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Young Framlingham mother tells inquest her world has been turned ‘upside down’ after baby died moments after birth

By Nicola Miller


A young Framlingham mum yesterday blamed hospital staff for the death of her baby girl just moments after she was born.

Emma Strachan, 29, questioned the advice she was given by staff and told of the ‘mad panic’ when problems developed in her labour.

Mrs Strachan told an inquest at Ipswich that medics said her baby was in a breech position - where the feet and are likely to emerge first rather than the head.

But she was advised to continue with a natural, vaginal delivery at Ipswich Hospital rather than a caesarian section because of her previous health problems including diabetes.

The hearing was told that little Bonnie May Strachan died on January 24 this year after being deprived of oxygen during her birth when her legs and torso emerged first.

Around nine minutes after this, hospital staff decided to release the baby’s head after becoming concerned about the lack of a foetal pulse.

The inquest heard that Bonnie was born ‘floppy and pale’ and despite attempts to resuscitate her, was declared dead around 30 minutes later.

Since the incident the Strachans, who have a two year-old son called Percy, say they have been unable to move on with their lives.

Mrs Strachan said: “We feel like our world has been turned upside down and we’re trying to find our feet again.

Mrs Strachan claimed she and her husband James were given bad advice to have a natural breech birth and described the birthing room turning from jovial and happy into a ‘mad panic’.

She said: “The midwife commented that everybody wanted to watch a vaginal breech delivery, saying ‘We could sell tickets’.

“In many ways it seemed too relaxed.

“Looking back, at times I felt left alone while everybody around me was relaxed and jovial.

“I remember saying does she need to be coming out as she had been hanging there for a long time.

“The situation changed from a relaxed and jovial atmosphere to a mad panic.”

Natural breech births are extremely rare in the UK and the Strachans claimed they only agreed to it after advice from numerous doctors

She said: “We were told that if a vaginal breech birth wasn’t progressing as expected a caesarean would be performed.”

“We thought that this was a good option.

“We do not feel we had properly been made aware of the risks of a vaginal breech delivery.

“I felt that I was in safe hands with them, I didn’t expect on the day to be left in the hands of a registrar who I later found out only had the experience of two vaginal births in the breech position.”

Midwife Suzanne Kelly told the inquest she was aware of hospital guidelines which say a consultant should be present at vaginal breech deliveries.

“Our baby girl was taken from us and Percy’s little sister from him.

“It’s difficult to ascertain the stress and confusion Percy has on this.

“James is suffering from flashbacks and is unable to talk about what happened in the delivery room.

“The thought of a future pregnancy, labour and birth currently petrifies us.”

The family has instructed medical negligence law firm Irwin Mitchell to represent them.

Consultant obstetrician Andrew Leather told the inquest baby Bonnie-May could have survived had a more experienced person been on site at Ipswich Hospital.

Mr Leather, an expert in breech deliveries who knew the family, said when he heard the baby was in breech position he offered to oversee the birth.

But he told the coroner his request was rejected by Dr Bethany Revell the registrar in charge of the labour. The inquest heard three calls were made to Mr Leather from Dr Revell and a senior midwife in the lead up to and during the birth.

He said in hindsight he should have gone to the hospital regardless of what the junior medics were telling him.

He said he would do that if a similar situation occurs in future.

Dr Revell broke down while giving her evidence and answering why she didn’t ask Mr Leather at attend the birth.

In tears, Dr Bethany Revell admitted there was confusion over whether Mr Leather should have attended but denied asking him not to come.

The inquest is expected to be concluded by Suffolk Coroner Peter Dean today.

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