Stevenage parents' home birth drama

A HOSPITAL has been criticised for failing to attend a planned home birth due to staff shortage. Kanan and Ravi Tekchandani, of Trajan Gate in Stevenage, had planned and booked a home birth, when a community midwife would come to their house to deliver th

A HOSPITAL has been criticised for failing to attend a planned home birth due to staff shortage.

Kanan and Ravi Tekchandani, of Trajan Gate in Stevenage, had planned and booked a home birth, when a community midwife would come to their house to deliver their baby.

But when Mrs Tekchandani went into labour on Saturday, her husband said he called Lister Hospital three times, and was told that community midwifery support in North Herts had been suspended due to a combination of staff sickness and a very busy maternity unit.

"Contractions were approaching five to seven minutes apart, the point at which we were advised to call the delivery suite for a midwife to come to the house," he said.

"We were asked to come into the suite but, a few moments later, the waters broke."

He said that despite Lister being three miles away from his home, it took 45 minutes before any support arrived.

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He put the phone on speaker and, following guidance, delivered the baby himself. Dax Yuan weighed a healthy 7lb 2oz.

Paramedics pulled up a few minutes after delivery to clamp the cord before Mr Tekchandani cut it and, moments later, two midwives arrived to weigh the baby and complete the relevant paperwork.

Mr Tekchandani claimed the call not to support homes births could have risked lives.

"We were told earlier that week that nine midwives would be on call for Stevenage," he said.

"We needed the support we were promised not to be cancelled four hours before we needed it.

"I am over the moon for having a beautiful boy but still in disbelief. I am lucky that mother and baby are with me."

Chris Nixon, the East and North Herts NHS Trust's head of midwifery and a practicing midwife, said: "When discussing homebirths with families, our midwives always satisfy themselves that any risk of complication is as low as possible.

"They also make it very clear that home births cannot be 100 per cent guaranteed as it is impossible to predict how much pressure our maternity units will be under on any given day.

"Both community midwives for North Herts were needed on the Lister unit as it was especially busy that day."

One of the two community midwives for East Herts was also off sick.

Ms Nixon said Mr Tekchandani was asked to bring his wife into hospital the first time he called but, after his second call, the ambulance service was notified and the one community midwife in East Herts asked to attend. The midwifery manager, a fully trained midwife, also decided to attend.

"As it turned out, the birth was exceptionally quick at around 35 minutes and both the midwives and paramedics arrived after their new baby was born," said Ms Nixon.

"They then spent a substantial amount of time with the family explaining what had happened and ensuring mother and baby were healthy and happy."

A spokesman for Lister said approval of the new �16.4 million maternity unit is expected within the next week and, when completed in 2011, will make maintaining midwifery and doctor rotas easier.

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