Baby Sophie: Inquest told of midwife’s concern over heartbeat of baby girl who died after birth following mother’s ‘textbook’ pregnancy

AN INQUEST into the death of a newborn baby girl whose mother enjoyed a “textbook” pregnancy heard very few recordings of her foetal heartbeat were available in the hour before her birth.

everal midwives from the National Maternity Hospital gave evidence that difficulties were experienced in obtaining readings of the heartbeat of baby Sophie Kennedy in the lead-up to her birth on March 5, 2018.

Dublin District Coroner’s Court also heard that Sophie’s mother, Karen Kennedy, had an uneventful pregnancy as well as a first stage of labour with no advance warning of any difficulties.

Baby Sophie was born looking “limp, pale and white”.

A midwife, Anneke Wolterink, said she had become concerned at one stage about the baby’s heartbeat but the inquest heard medical staff decided to allow Ms Kennedy to continue to try to have a natural birth as she was considered a low-risk patient and making progress with pushing.

Cross-examined by solicitor, Roger Murray, for Sophie’s parents, Ms Wolterink admitted it was difficult to know how the baby was doing because of the poor quality of CTG recordings, which monitor the baby’s heartbeat.

She agreed with Mr Murray that three CTG readings in the hour before Sophie’s delivery were “abnormal”.

Another midwife, Lynn Mulvaney, said that she could hear the baby’s heartbeat at all times, despite the poor CTG readings.

The inquest heard Ms Kennedy had been in active labour for around an hour and three quarters even though hospital guidelines indicated mothers should not continue pushing without some other intervention after one hour.

However, other midwives who assisted Ms Kennedy said the guidelines were “not set in stone” and were used in combination with clinical judgement.

Both of Sophie’s parents were overcome with emotion while giving evidence.

Ms Kennedy recalled her excitement about finding out she was pregnant with her first child in June 2017 at the age of 34 after being married the previous year.

She described how her early hospital appointments were “boringly normal” before being “over the moon” to find out at 21 weeks that she was pregnant with a baby girl.

She stressed that she had never stipulated that she would object to any intervention such as a Caesarean section, despite medical staff being notified that she had “needlephobia”.

Ms Kennedy recalled during the early hours of being in labour that she was enjoying the process and “felt empowered and being in awe of what was happening to me”.

By 6.30pm on March 5, 2018, she felt she was near the finishing line but said the following two hours were a blur, although she remembered a midwife being concerned about her baby’s heartbeat.

Ms Kennedy said she was pushing so hard that her contact lenses popped out of her eyes a number of times.

She told the inquest how she felt a sense of relief and how it had been all worth it after Sophie was delivered shortly after medical staff performed an episiotomy to facilitate the birth. Choking back tears, Ms Kennedy recounted: “I remember only briefly seeing a dark mop of hair and someone grabbing her and running out of the room.”

She said she had no idea anything was wrong and there was no sign of anything abnormal until her husband, Kevin, came back to her crying.

Ms Kennedy said Sophie had taken 20 minutes to be resuscitated which she learnt was the ethical cut-off point for stopping resuscitation.

Sophie’s condition deteriorated the following day and she died at 4.20pm.

Her husband sobbed as he recounted how his wife got to hold Sophie for the first time after her life support had been switched off.

“It was both beautiful and heart-breaking,” he recalled.

Details of a post-mortem are due to be examined in greater detail when the inquest resumes tomorrow.

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