A bereaved mother of Asian/Indian ethnicity felt she was not listened to by healthcare staff and so did not get the care she needed to feel safe when giving birth to her baby at home at 16 weeks. 

This story was shared with Sands as part of the Listening Project. Some of the details in this story may be upsetting to read or hear, please remember that we are here for you

Around 16 weeks of pregnancy, the mother experienced unusual discharge and cramping pains, so she went to her nearest A&E to get checked very late on the Friday night of a bank holiday weekend. She had to go alone, as her husband needed to stay at home to look after their young son.  

At the hospital, she described what was wrong. She also explained that her pregnancy was high risk, because of a serious blood disorder diagnosed in her previous pregnancy. But she did not feel that the staff listened to her or took her concerns seriously. 

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She asked for a scan to show that her baby was OK. But the hospital staff would not accept that she was over 16 weeks pregnant.  

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A doctor on A&E tried to listen to the baby’s heartrate but could not pick it up. She told the mother quite dismissively that if she was already miscarrying there was nothing they could do, and she would just have to wait until after the bank holiday weekend to have a scan. The doctor was preparing to send the mother home, but a nurse advocated for her and managed to arrange a scan the next morning.  

At the scan, the mother and her husband were told that their baby had a heartbeat and was active. Although the mother was still in a lot of pain, she was sent home.  

The cramping got much worse over the Saturday and into the night. The mother woke up in unbearable pain and could barely walk. She called to her husband and, moments later, gave birth to her son in their bathroom.  

"What's always bothered me is that lead up to losing him was really poor. And we explored that with the hospital, they met us afterwards after everything had happened, we’d had the funeral and everything. And I just said to them, ‘You know, you may not have been able to save him. I can understand that. You may not have been able to do that. But if you’d have perhaps looked after me better, I’d have had a bit more dignity than to do that at home on the floor."

The mother has since questioned whether she received worse care because of her ethnicity. She wonders if the staff on A&E might have listened to her if her husband had been there to advocate for her. 

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Although she received much more sensitive care from paramedics and A&E staff after her loss, the whole experience was much harder because she was not listened to when she was worried and in pain. This meant that she didn’t get the care she needed at the time of her son’s birth.  

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You can read the findings of the Listening Project and how we're using this to tackle inequalities in baby deaths and get involved in our campaigning on this issue.

Sands supports anyone who has been affected by the death of a baby before, during or shortly after birth. We also offer tailored support for Black and South Asian parents, family members and others following pregnancy loss or the death of a baby.

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