13 May 2024

‘Hard to believe so many women going through such horrors’, says woman whose baby daughter was stillborn

Data Correspondent and Presenter

Lauren Caulfield’s baby Grace was stillborn at Leeds General Infirmary two years ago.

The hospital failed to carry out a vital test which could have determined why Grace died.  A report into Lauren’s case found several other errors were made during her pregnancy.

Lauren Caulfield: I had a very standard pregnancy. I was midwifery-led care. I was pretty low risk from the beginning. I was really living over in Leeds, but moved to Bradford at about 20 weeks, and that’s kind of when everything went upside down. So my notes from Leeds, whenever transferred to Bradford, there was a huge load of information completely lost. I was going into hospital in Leeds with reduced movements that wasn’t being told to the Bradford side.

When I was going for my antenatal appointments, I was not having the necessary checks being done properly. So when they were measuring my bump, it wasn’t being measured correctly as it should have been. My concerns about her movement were completely disregarded. I raised concerns on several occasions, was just kind of made to feel like I was an anxious mum who didn’t know what she was talking about.

Ciaran Jenkins: And March the 20th, then, that was the day.

Lauren Caulfield: That was the day. So I went into labour and thought everything was fine to be honest. It wasn’t until we got to the hospital that they weren’t able to find her heartbeat. And it was, you know, it’s the worst moment of my life. And I requested at that point a caesarean because I didn’t want to go through the pain of giving birth. That was rejected by the consultant. I was told I could have an epidural. That never happened. I had to birth her, you know, silently into a room, of the pain and misery.

Ciaran Jenkins: And up until this point, you thought you were having a healthy pregnancy. And there had been two reviews , hadn’t there, because this involves hospitals in Leeds and Bradford, and both hospitals say they’ve acted on the recommendations of an independent report.

Lauren Caulfield: I don’t believe that to be true. For example, my placenta was lost by Leeds following Grace passing away, so we never managed to get any answer as to what happened. Upon speaking to somebody from the team, just a couple of months ago, I was told they haven’t looked into the system since and it hasn’t been updated. 

Ciaran Jenkins: That’s because you wanted the placenta to be tested to find out…

Lauren Caulfield: To see what went wrong, exactly.

Ciaran Jenkins: And Leeds have said that they are very sorry about that and that’s another action that they’ve taken. But just when you hear all these other accounts today from women across the UK, how does that make you feel?

Lauren Caulfield: It’s shocking. It’s hard to believe that so many women across the country are going through such horrors. One of the biggest things I think resonates is the amount of women who feel they’re not listened to. You know, I think women are put in this position where they’re not allowed to trust in their own bodies, and they’re made to feel like they don’t know what they’re talking about and just completely disregarded. And then looking at post-natal care, especially, that’s an area of huge concern for me. I know that they’re looking to have six week checks as standard, but that’s not incorporating bereaved parents.

Ciaran Jenkins: Is that how you felt, that you weren’t listened to?

Lauren Caulfield: I was not listened to at all, not during and not after, and I had no support in that after period. And that was so essential. And it’s not given to women whose babies die. You’re almost looked at as your baby died, you don’t matter, you’re fine. But your body birthed a child and in your mind you are still a mum, but you’re just completely disregarded by the NHS.

Ciaran Jenkins: Lauren, thank you very much for for speaking with us about that.