Father delivers own son as midwives nowhere to be seen

Jeni Harvey

WHEN Sarah Copley started having contractions she assumed that, already being on the labour ward at a Yorkshire hospital, she was in the best possible place.

However, despite pressing the emergency buzzer, no midwives were in sight – and her husband David ended up delivering their baby son himself.

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Mrs Copley, a mother-of-five, had gone into the Jessop Wing maternity hospital in Sheffield in the early hours of the morning after developing blood clots.

She said: “I started the contractions while I was there. I was examined and people were coming in to check on me every hour, or every half hour or so.

“Then my contractions got stronger and I told them they were getting stronger, but they didn’t seem to take any notice of me.

“I told David I needed to push and told him to go and push the buzzer to try and get someone to come. Then I realised Leo was coming.”

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Mr Copley then had to step in and untangle baby Leo from the umbilical cord, which was wrapped around his neck.

Luckily there were no further complications and the baby boy, who weighed in at 8lb 5oz, is now a week old and doing well at home in Firth Park, Sheffield.

Mrs Copley, 35, said: “I think it’s wrong that I was left on my own, without a midwife. If David hadn’t been there then he would’ve ended up on the floor.

“He had to untangle him from the cord and pick him up. It did happen very quickly, but they weren’t checking on me enough.

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“I know these things do happen, and you hear stories of dads delivering babies in all sorts of places, but I was already in hospital. We’d been planning a home birth, and if I’d had that I would have had two midwives there all the time. Instead I went to hospital and I had none.”

Mrs Copley added “There should be more midwives and they should be able to check on people more often. It seems that there’s a lot of cases like this happening at the moment.”

Supermarket worker Mr Copley, also 35, added: “It’s nice to look back and know I delivered my own son, but it was a frightening time.”

Dotty Watkins, head of midwifery at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said Mrs Copley had been seen by staff and had been given a course of treatment which sped up her labour.

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“This, coupled with it being Mrs Copley’s fifth baby, meant the birth progressed much more rapidly than expected.”

Staff did respond to the buzzer, she said, but were not there for the birth.

She apologised to the couple and said the circumstances would be reviewed and any measures needed to prevent a recurrence put in place.