Mother gives birth in car days after maternity changes

Kirsty Peyton-Lander and baby Archie Peyton-Lander
Kirsty Peyton-Lander and baby Archie Peyton-Lander

A DEVASTATED young mother has told of her trauma at having to give birth in the back of her car on the busy Queensway road just days after the controversial NHS maternity changes.

Kirsty Peyton-Lander was forced to deliver little Archie without expert care after being unable to reach the Conquest Hospital in time despite the valiant efforts of her husband.

She was expected to travel to the hospital because she had a previous medical complication.

The 31-year-old slammed the recent changes and told the Observer: “How many more mothers are going to have to give birth by the side of a dangerous road? If I had been allowed to go the DGH, I would’ve given birth safely there.”

The drama unfolded at 5.55am last Friday (May 10) when Kirsty woke with excruciating pain.

She got up to walk it off and went back to bed at their home in North Harbour, Eastbourne. But 10 minutes later she was in pain again.

This time Kirsty’s husband Leigh rang the Conquest. Her contractions were every eight minutes.

They put him through to a midwife who advised to wait until contractions dropped to five minutes.

At 6.15am, Leigh rang again and told the midwife contractions had dropped to four minutes.

The midwife told him to leave for hospital.

But five minutes later he rang back fearing they could not make it in time. The couple claim no-one answered the phone this time.

They had to wait for Leigh’s mother to arrive to look after their six-year-old daughter Lexie and set off just before 7am.

He then drove to the Conquest but they became stuck in roadwork traffic on Queensway around 7.30am.

Leigh then spotted an ambulance ahead in the queue.

The paramedics were taking a non-emergency passenger to the Conquest and initially pointed in the direction of the hospital.

But once they realised Kirsty was having the baby they sprang into action.

The female paramedic laid her down in the back of the car and she gave birth on her second contraction in chilly conditions.

Little Archie was safely delivered weighing 7lb 1oz. Leigh then drove them to the Conquest accompanied by the female paramedic.

After a few hours under a heat lamp, Archie was allowed to go home.

“It was a traumatic experience,” said Kirsty. “The reason I had to go to Conquest was I had the top layer of my cervix removed in 2009 as a prevention to possible cancer. A smear test revealed I had many Cin 3 cells present, which is sometimes a precursor to cervical cancer.

“I am convinced this will happen again and the outcome may not be as successful.

“The NHS says the changes were made of the grounds of safety. But how safe is it for a mother with complications to go 15 miles and then be forced to give birth on the side of a road. My baby would have been born at the DGH had we been allowed but I had that basic human right taken away.

Margaret Williams, chairman of the Hands Off The Conquest campaign, said: “This happened just three days after the changeover.

“We warned something like this would happen. The roads are too difficult. She should have gone straight to the DGH.

“The mother was traumatised and so was the baby. What if they had lost the baby?”

Suzanne Gooch, spokeswoman for the East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “The average length of labour for a woman is 12 hours.

“However there are occasions when labour is much quicker.

“Over the last three years in East Sussex, an average of three mothers per month delivered without support from a midwife because their labour was too quick. The majority of these happened at home but some do occur whilst travelling to the planned place of birth.

“In the vast majority of these quick labours, the baby is healthy and suffers no ill effects.

“The changes have been made purely on the grounds of safety. We firmly believe that they will ensure we can provide a safer and higher quality service to mothers and babies across East Sussex.”