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Mother of stillborn baby had asked for C-section

By Cate McCurry

The mother of a baby stillborn at the Causeway Hospital in Coleraine was told that it would be "no problem" if she wanted a planned Caesarean section, a landmark inquest has heard.

Michelle Rocks (38) from Magherafelt was yesterday described as a "good candidate" for a C-section during the inquest in Belfast's Coroner's Court.

The revelation came as harrowing details about the circumstances of baby Cara Rocks' death emerged during the second day of the case, which is the first inquest to focus solely on a stillbirth death.

Mrs Rocks had repeatedly requested an elective C-section during a number of antenatal appointments. However, she was refused at 36 weeks pregnant and had the stillbirth on June 26, 2013.

Barrister Fiona Doherty QC, representing Michelle and her husband Barry, cross-examined middle grade obstetrics specialist Dr Joanna Krystowska, who had assessed the mother at 32 weeks pregnant.

She admitted that during this appointment, Mrs Rocks had been "keen" for an elective C-section. But Dr Krystowska went on to say that she was not able to decide to give her a C-section during this appointment.

"The patient can always change their mind and she was not well informed and was not given the leaflet yet," she added.

However, coroner Joe McCrisken disagreed and reminded the medic that Mrs Rocks had already been through a C-section in her first pregnancy.

"She could have made that decision at the consultation, something must have stopped you. You could have decided at that meeting she was going to have a C-section," he said.

"She wanted it and was asking for it. The guidelines were not stopping you."

Dr Krystowska added that the final say on a mode of delivery should always lie with the patient. "My role is to express all pros and cons regarding both modes of delivery. The last decision is for the patient," she said.

Ms Doherty pressed the medic about Mrs Rocks' requests for a C-section.

"By the end of this meeting it was clear she wanted a C-section and had a history of having a C-section" she said.

"You had determined that the baby was big and in addition the baby was presenting as breech. This was a good candidate for a planned C-section.

"What Mrs Rocks says is that you two talked about a planned C-section and you told her if she was still as adamant after reading the leaflet, you would see no problem for her having a C-section."

The inquest heard that Dr Krystowska had appeared "very upset" by the baby's death at a later meeting with Cara's parents. Dr Krystowska claimed everyone involved in the case had been left "traumatised" by Cara's death.

Ms Doherty told the medic: "You were upset and were in tears. You could not get over what happened. She asked you what you thought caused the death. You told them the umbilical cord had wrapped around her neck three times.

"You said this happened when her waters broke and as a result the baby was hanged. That was very upsetting for them."

Midwife Brigeen Downey admitted during her evidence that there were a number of errors on the antenatal cardiotocograph (CTG) form which monitors the fetal heartbeat.

Ms Downey said that she made an error in not recording that Cara's heartbeat had decelerated for longer than three minutes on the CTG form. If this had have been done, then it would have shown a pathological CTG trace.

On Tuesday, the Northern Health and Social Care Trust that runs the hospital apologised for Cara's death and admitted a series of failings in the care provided to the baby's mother.

The hearing continues.

Belfast Telegraph


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