'We don't want another family going through what we have' Wakefield couple's fight to change neonatal care level after devastating loss of their baby
Candice Baldwin is desperate to be a mum.
After trying for over three years for a baby and two early miscarriages in 2019 and 2020, she and partner William, 32, were looking forward to the birth of their son, Reggie in October this year.
At 20 weeks, Candice, 28, had a scan at Pinderfields Hospital and was told her cervix had started to drastically reduce in size.
Candice said: "I saw a specialist and was given the option to either wait or have surgery, which was a risk, but one we took for Reggie. And it did work."
But days later, Candice started getting minor pains and went back into hospital on June 5.
"I was checked and was told everything was fine and I could go home. But four days later I began having really bad pains and was rushed to hospital. I was told I was in labour and Reggie was born just 30 minutes later, at 22 weeks and three days.
"He was breathing and I just screamed 'please save him'.
Reggie continued to breathe on his own for more than three hours.
"He was fully formed, had perfect little ears, a beautiful little nose and massive hands and feet. His heart was working," Candice said.
"But he wasn't given a chance. We were told that they were unable to help him because he was under gestation. That he didn't meet the criteria."
Pinderfields Hospital have a neonatal level 2, meaning they will only intervene if a baby is over 27 weeks. Hospitals such as Leeds and Bradford do have Level 3.
Candice, from Knottingley, said that the criteria that needs to be met includes a baby weighing over 500 grams and needs to show signs of living.
"They weighed him after he had died and he was one pound one ounce, so he met the criteria and he showed signs of living - he was fighting for three hours, breathing.
"I had to watch my baby died when he could have been saved."
Candice is now calling on Pinderfields Hospital to change their Level 2 to Level 3, where they will help babies born from 22 weeks.
"Pinderfields is a local hospital to tens of thousands of people. I didn't know anything about neonatal level 2 or level 3 and it makes me wonder how many other women actually know about these difference levels in neonatal care.
"I'm desperate to be a mum. Our perfect baby boy was taken away from us and I imagine this has happened to many families and it’s not fair and Pinderfields policies need to change and they need to do everything they can for babies that are born alive."
Candice has started a petition with the hopes of raising her concerns, so "no other families have to go through what we have."
She said: "We're so hopeful that we can change it. There are comments from women on the petition who have said they went through the same thing 20 years ago - 20 years ago! Why hasn't anything changed?
"Our perfect baby boy was taken away from us and I imagine this has happened to many families and it’s not fair.
"Pinderfields policies need to change and they need to do everything they can for babies that are born alive."
Candice added that the aftercare she received by the midwives has been amazing.
"Although we went through this, the aftercare from the midwives has been amazing. They allowed us to stay with him as a family and we had professional photos taken and were also able to get hand and foot prints of Reggie.
Candice has contacted Yvette Cooper about her plight, with the MP saying early labour shouldn't be a postcode lottery because of where you live.
Ms Cooper said: "Candice’s experience is heartbreaking.
"Parents need the right level of care and support if they have to cope with early labour and there shouldn’t be a postcode lottery because of where you live.
"I have contacted the Health Secretary, Mid Yorkshire Trust and the CCG to ask them to look into what happened and why there wasn’t more support in place and also to call for increased neonatal and maternity support for families in our area.”
David Melia, Director of Nursing and Quality, at The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust said: “Our thoughts are with Reggie’s parents and their wider family at this very sad time.
"Having already gone through so much to become parents, to lose their child in this way is extremely saddening.
“Reggie was born at 22 weeks and the team at Pinderfields did everything they could to give Reggie the support and care he needed, but unfortunately his heart was too weak to support
“There are indeed different levels of neonatal services around the country, with a certain number of level 3 units commissioned for each region. In our region the level 3 units are in
Leeds, Bradford, Sheffield and Hull.
“At Pinderfields our unit is classed as level 2, and we care for babies expected to arrive at 27 weeks or older. Every level 2 unit within the region is equipped to stabilise babies younger than 27 weeks for possible transfer to a level 3 unit if that is required, and all the paediatricians on our neonatal unit are trained in how to resuscitate a baby delivered younger than 27 weeks.
“Unfortunately, in this instance there was no time to transfer Candice to the nearest level 3 unit as Reggie arrived very quickly, but our paediatricians did everything they could for both him and his mum.
"Sadly, even in a level 3 unit the chances of survival at 22 weeks are very small.
“Our thoughts again go out to the parents and we understand how difficult it is to lose a baby at any time.”