July 1, 2023

Lailah’s Birth Story

Understand our Co-Founder's personal birthing story and why we started Aster to prevent this from happening to other families.

I was assessed and placed in the low risk pregnancy category which meant I had regular appointments with my community midwife and only two ultrasound scans throughout the pregnancy.

At times I felt issues were being missed but I trusted the experts and the answers I was given. When speaking up against what I felt was not right I was wrongfully reassured, including measuring my own fundal height at home which was small but being told in clinic that it was in fact perfectly average as well as being told a urine sample at 34 weeks wasn’t required and I could just bring this in next time.

Towards the end of pregnancy I visited the maternity assessment unit because I had some concerns over reduced fetal movements.

It was there after prompting from my Husband to check the results of the latest urine sample from 36 weeks, I was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia which had been clear on my lab results for 8 days before this but I was not informed. I was induced on an antenatal ward during the middle of the night. I immediately became unwell and noticed worrying symptoms including continuous 10/10 pain. I raised concerns and was told I was not in labour, nothing could be happening and patronized into thinking I didn’t know what I was talking about, as it was my first pregnancy.

I was a doctor in a local hospital experiencing complications I had seen myself and knew to be bad. Yet I was told everything was fine.

The culmination of this was 6 hours later when our baby’s heart tracing was finally checked. Everything then took a terrifying turn when I was rushed to the labour ward and given medication to stop my contractions which were 9 in 10 minutes, as I was explaining. I was taken to theatre for a crash c-section and faced an agonizing wait when our baby didn’t cry for over 7 minutes and was born flat.

After being resuscitated and taken to neonatal intensive care we discovered he was also severely growth restricted and required extensive testing to ensure he hadn’t sustained a brain injury due to lack of oxygen which had been present for hours.

I faced an agonizing wait when our baby didn’t cry for over 7 minutes and was born flat.

These were the hours I had been told everything was fine and made to feel I was exaggerating my symptoms. Where unconscious bias from medical professionals took over the clinical issues in front of them. Where my 4 pound baby narrowly escaped life changing implications of a stretched, broken and unfair system.

Eesa, is 4 years old now and is a wonderfully energetic and happy child obsessed with spider-man.

Other families are not so fortunate, other women who we so often hear very similar stories from are made to feel they are to blame for bad outcomes and near misses during pregnancy and delivery. This is unacceptable.

I was able to recognize the mistreatment I experienced and brought about an investigation, the result of which was an admittance of negligence and apology from the hospital trust. Lessons have been learnt and with this we strive for better care for everyone.

By Dr. Lailah Kara-Newton