Words of Advice
During my second pregnancy with my daughter Safia, I was already aware of the 'Count the kicks campaign', which encourages pregnant mothers to monitor their babies' movements in the womb, in order to notice any reductions in activity. However, before the end of this pregnancy, I was to discover how truly important it is to follow this advice and to take any changes very seriously.
When I was 34 weeks pregnant, my midwife noticed my bump size was not as large as it should be. She referred me to the Princess Anne Hospital for a growth scan. The scan measured the baby and suggested that she was doing okay and was approximately six pounds and eight ounces. The scan also showed that there were no other issues at this time. I was reassured, but as time passed, I felt my bump was still very small and I had concerns about how things were going. My instincts were telling me that something was not quite right and I continued to express this to my husband. However, I must admit that I felt silly at thinking this, and began doubting my own mind on the issue.
A few weeks later, I had another appointment with a different midwife. She measured my bump and noted it had not actually increased in size from the previous appointment. Because I had already had a growth scan within the preceding four weeks, she was unfortunately prevented from booking me in for another growth scan on that occasion. Therefore, she reiterated the advice to me that I must monitor the baby's movements very seriously and she asked me to make sure that if I even had the slightest concern over the movements that I should take myself to the labour ward day unit to get checked over. She insisted this was very important. And that proved to be great advice, which I am so glad I followed.
When I was nearly 38 weeks pregnant, I woke up one morning aware that I had not felt the baby kick very much during the night. I sat and thought about what might be going on. Eventually, I woke my husband and told him I did not feel that the baby was kicking as much as she had been. But because I had felt a few kicks, I was aware she was still moving, but much less than normal. He asked what I felt I needed to do, and he was, of course, happy to support me in whatever decision I chose to take. My husband was due to attend a very important conference in Brighton for his work that day, so I was worried about stopping him from going to this.
In the end, I made the decision that I should go into the Labour Ward Day Unit for an assessment. I stupidly felt really guilty about doing this. I was concerned that I was making my husband miss a really important work function for nothing, and equally that I was wasting the time of all the midwives at the hospital. To add to my woes, on the drive to the hospital, I felt a kick and immediately felt embarrassed that I was making a fuss over nothing.
When I arrived on the labour ward, the staff were extremely welcoming, comforting, and I was put at ease. They monitored the fetal heart rate for half an hour and found that the heartbeat was strong, and as it should be, she also kicked during this time, which was great. However, one midwife noticed that my bump size looked very small. She, therefore, (thankfully!!) suggested that I have an immediate scan to check on the baby. A sonographer was available within the Day Unit and so this went ahead straight away.
After the scan was done, we were taken into a bay and it was explained to my husband and me that the blood flow from my placenta to the baby was inadequate and that the placenta was failing. They told me I therefore needed to be induced, there and then. This was completely terrifying and was a huge shock to find out there was potentially such a huge problem. I was extremely upset and scared. However, the midwife looking after us pointed out, when I was feeling very emotional, that we should be happy, as we were so lucky that the issue was discovered in time to save her, and whilst her heartbeat was still strong. She reassured us that our baby would be fine. She was completely right. Things could have been so different, but as it was, everything was going to be okay.
Following the induction, my gorgeous little Safia was born, weighing a tiddly 5 pounds and 9 ounces, but otherwise healthy and adorable.
Sometimes I look at Safia and I am reminded of how close we were to not having her in our lives. The midwife said to me she estimated that she had no more than four days left until it would have been too late. If I had not counted the kicks, and not received the advice I had, or reacted in the way I did, then she would not be here today. There is no way she would have made it had I left the situation.
Now whenever I speak to my maternity clients, or my pregnant friends, I always reiterate to them that they must take ANY reduced fetal movements extremely seriously. It might just save the little baby's life. Never ever be embarrassed to talk to the obstetrics' Day Unit about your concerns. You are not wasting their time. They would much rather you see them for a checkup and find out that everything was actually okay than not going in and something serious or life-threatening happen to the baby or you.
I want to thank all the lovely staff on the Labour Ward at the Southampton Princess Anne Hospital for their superb care. I am forever grateful to them for ensuring that my wonderful little daughter was born healthy and well looked after. She is truly a blessing.
Finally, I want to remind all the pregnant mothers out there, TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS, monitor your baby's movements and never be scared to ask for help.
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