Published: 06:00, 10 July 2020
| Updated: 11:23, 10 July 2020
A mum-of-three has revealed how she was sent home from hospital and told she had "wet herself" - despite insisting her waters had broken.
Two days before giving birth to her daughter, Tina Williams visited the QEQM in Margate and "pleaded for help" but was told to go home.
The distressing experience ended with both her and her baby suffering infections - and the newborn fighting for her life in intensive care.
"They actually made me feel insane," said Tina, from Canterbury. "I was mentally breaking down, because no-one was believing my water had broken."
The 24-year-old, then already mum to two little girls, had been at home in Querns Road on September 9 when she felt her waters break.
She and her then-partner hurried to the QEQM, where staff carried out a test to see if her waters had broken.
But it came back negative, leaving Tina confused.
"They said, 'we're going to have to send you home'," she recalled. "They said I must have wet myself.
"That was my third child. I knew my waters had broken."
Concerned, but "not wanting to cause a scene", she returned home.
After a sleepless night, she returned to the QEQM next morning, but says she was again told to go home, this time without being admitted.
"My waters were still just leaking - they were dripping and dripping," she said.
"I was in such a state, I came home and couldn't physically talk. I was shaking, I was so, so worried about my child.
"I tried calling the hospital and they just said 'there is nothing we can do for you'."
Desperate, and worried about the smell of her amniotic fluid, Tina rang her midwife who called her in to the Kent & Canterbury.
"The second I walked in she said, 'Tina, you need to be in hospital. I can smell your waters have broken. I don't even need to test you to know.'"
Tina was taken by ambulance to the William Harvey hospital in Ashford, where her labour was induced next morning, on September 11.
Doctors used forceps to help deliver her baby in theatre.
At 3.45am on September 12, more than two days after she believes her waters broke, Tina gave birth to Annie-Marie.
But she quickly realised something was very wrong.
"They put her on my chest and my child was blue, and wasn't breathing," she recalls.
Both Annie-Marie and Tina had developed infections.
Tina was given a course of antibiotics and was soon discharged from hospital, but her newborn spent a nearly two weeks in critical condition in intensive care.
"My daughter was fighting for her life," said Tina. "She had tubes in her nose, a breathing machine. They were pumping morphine into her. It was just absolutely awful."
Tina says she was never told the cause of Annie-Marie's infection, but feels it could have been caused by the length of time between her waters breaking, and giving birth.
"They couldn't tell me what her infection was, but I knew in my heart it was because they'd left her in me so long," she said. "She was a very healthy baby until that point.
"Her umbilical cord looked badly infected and inflated."
Thankfully, Annie-Marie made a full recovery and is now a healthy, bouncing 10-month-old.
But Tina continues to suffer as a result of her ordeal.
"It's physically and mentally broken me as a mum," she said. "I'm still depressed now over it. It was so traumatising."
Tina plans to file a formal complaint against the QEQM, which is already being investigated as part of an independent review into the baby deaths and alleged maternity failings at East Kent Hospitals.
"I am worried about other people's children and pregnancies," she said.
"I was pleading with Margate hospital to help me. I want for them to listen to ladies when they're telling them that their body doesn't feel right.
"My babies are my world, but me and my kid could not be here today. My daughter could have died.
"They're playing with kids' lives here. Babies should be the most important things in that department, and I don't feel that was the case."
Responding to Tina's concerns, a spokesman for East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the QEQM, said: “We are very sorry Ms Williams did not feel listened to when she contacted our maternity day care service.
“Now Ms Williams' concerns have been brought to our attention, we have invited her to a meeting to discuss her care and answer any questions she has.
“We take all concerns raised about our services extremely seriously."
Tina believes she experienced pre-labour rupture of membranes (PROM).
PROM is when waters break prior to labour starting, because the protective sac of fluid around the baby has a hole in it that allows the water to drain away.
The NHS says the risk of serious neonatal infection in such cases is 1% - twice that in other mums.
Midwife Amina Hatia, of childbirth charity Tommy's, said: “National guidelines say that mum and baby can wait at home for up to 24 hours after waters break, unless it’s a high-risk pregnancy or hasn’t reached 37 weeks yet.
"Mothers should be given information at hospital to advise on what to avoid and warning signs to look out for during that time.
"Symptoms are usually feeling hot or feverish, changes to the colour or smell of amniotic fluid, or changes in baby’s movements – so if you’re sent home after your waters break, keep an eye on these things, check your temperature regularly and seek help if you feel unwell.”
East Kent's maternity unit is under investigation following a series of baby deaths and other serious incidents.
More by this authorLydia Chantler-Hicks
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