New mum told to abandon home birth to go to hospital due to midwife shortage

Claire Timbrell from Swansea had always wanted to give birth at home.

She had hired a birthing pool and set everything up at home ready for when she would go into labour.

But her birthing plans had to change when she suddenly discovered there were no midwives available to help bring her baby boy into the world.

And she was already in labour.

Claire told ITV News, "Everything was set to be fine for the home birth.

"We started off at home, absolutely fine, I'd hired a birth pool - everything was set up perfectly and I felt very relaxed just being in my own environment and ready to have my home birth.

"Unfortunately, when the midwives arrived, it was made apparent quite quickly afterwards that they only had a couple of hours left of their shift and they knew that there was nobody there unfortunately after that shift had finished to come in, so I knew there were no midwives at that point."

Claire had originally planned a home birth. Credit: Claire Timbrell

Claire said her choices became "pretty limited".

I was told, "You need to get into hospital" which at that point I was already quite established into labour and already in the birthing pool.

And then having to be told that, 'We need to get you out of the birth pool, we need to get you dressed, we need to get you down the stairs, we need to get you into the car, we need to get you into hospital.

"I was always quite realistic with the fact that I knew if there were any sort of medical complications I would need to go into hospital.

"I was always made aware of that and I was ready for that. I guess I just never thought that one of those complications would be there isn't any midwives on."

Claire was taken into hospital after initially getting into her birthing pool at home. Credit: Claire Timbrell

After arriving into hospital, Claire ended up needing an emergency Caesarean section to help deliver her baby boy Edward.

She's praised the health board for that care that she received, even though it wasn't the birth she had originally wanted or planned.

"The level of care, professionalism, compassion, everything, I couldn't fault it and I was definitely in the right place.

"It's remarkable what those people do, it's fantastic and I couldn't fault it, but, it wasn't the planned birth that I had in mind.

"I was definitely in the right place and the level of care was fantastic, you just have to be understanding of that fact that it just wasn't how I'd imagined but I understand completely the reasons for it.

"It was really really stressful. I think my message for mothers that are expecting now and have obviously had the news that your home birth is just not happening is, you're going to be OK.

"The hospital is absolutely fantastic and the team there will look after you."

Edward was born 10 days ago. Credit: Claire Timbrell

Swansea Bay University Health Board has suspended its home birth services for the time being and will be reviewing the situation in two weeks' time.

The health board said: "Our maternity services are under severe pressure because of the number of staff who either have Covid-19, are having to self-isolate or are unavailable due to sickness in addition to Covid related issues.

"In response we have to change how we provide services with immediate effect – including making the very difficult decision to suspend the home birth service.

"This is to maintain and ensure safe maternity care for all our families, in line with professional guidance from the Royal College of Midwives and Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

"We will be reviewing the situation in two weeks and will update you as soon as we have any changes.

"We would urge those families who have planned a home birth to make contact with their community midwife to discuss the options available.We appreciate this may cause disappointment, but please be assured the decision to suspend this service has not been taken lightly."

Claire says she "completely understands" the circumstances maternity services are having to deal with during the pandemic.

Claire has since been enjoying time at home in Kittle, Swansea with her baby boy Edward who was born 10 days ago.

She said: "He's wonderful. He's been keeping up on our toes, definitely keeping us busy but he's wonderful. He's exactly how I'd imagined it all to be, very stressful, lots of sleepless nights, but he's just perfect."