'We couldn't have had better maternity care'

Michelle Keen with baby Isabelle, who was born by emergency c-section before her husband could make it to the hospital. She is pictured in the operating theatre just after the operation

Published on 14 January 2021

A mum who gave birth by emergency caesarean section before her husband could make it to the hospital has thanked the maternity teams who looked after her.

Michelle Keen was planning an elective c-section because baby Isabelle was in a breech position – feet down instead of head down - after medics advised a vaginal birth could be risky.

But the tot did not want to wait, and Michelle, 37, went into labour at home in Herne Bay three weeks early.

When it became clear the labour was progressing quickly, midwives at the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital in Margate advised her to call an ambulance as husband Jarno had to stay with their other children until her parents arrived to take over.

Michelle said: “I really didn’t want to call an ambulance but they said it was the right thing to do, and the paramedics were amazing.

“They were constantly reassuring me, and we were met at the hospital by the same midwife we’d spoken to on the phone.

“I was really panicking, because I’d had to leave so quickly and my husband was still at home, but she helped keep me calm.

“She was due to finish her shift in 15 minutes but she said she would stay with me until after the baby was born.”

Michelle was whisked to theatre to be prepped for the operation, with midwife Kayleigh Mackay by her side.

The operation proved trickier than expected as baby Isabelle had turned sideways and was in a difficult position, and had her cord wrapped around her neck.

Michelle said: “I’d never had a c-section, or any kind of operation, and it was absolutely terrifying.

“Kayleigh was fantastic, and so were the theatre team, who explained everything to me.

“Kayleigh kept reassuring me and making sure I knew what was happening, and then when I was in recovery she contacted my husband and parents to reassure them too.”

Michelle found out she was pregnant just before the start of the coronavirus pandemic, and had to attend all her appointments and scans on her own.

She was anxious about how the rules would affect her birth experience, but now says she had nothing to fear.

She said: “All the way through the staff were just incredible. From the scanning teams, to the day care staff, to the midwives who looked after us on the ward, we couldn’t have had better care.

“After I had Isabelle they were constantly checking on us and if I had to buzz for help they were there straight away.

“They made sure I had everything I needed and there were always cleaners working on the ward.

“I want to reassure other people – it’s normal to be anxious but you will be so well looked after.”

Isabelle had to spent two days on Rainbow Ward at the QEQM to receive light therapy for jaundice, and again Michelle said the teams could not have been kinder.

She said: “Although the rules meant only one of us could be there with her, the staff were lovely and really looked after us.

“One of the play specialists came to check on us and they were always there to help.

“I was worried I would feel like I was on my own because of the virus but it wasn’t like that at all.”