Tayside and Central Scotland

Nevaeh Stewart death inquiry hears from midwife

Forfar Sheriff Court
Image caption The fatal accident inquiry is being held at Forfar Sheriff Court

A woman whose daughter died just hours after birth had a "perfectly normal" labour with "no known risks", her midwife told a fatal accident inquiry.

Nevaeh Stewart died three-and-a-half hours after she was born at Montrose Royal Infirmary's community midwife unit on 30 September 2012.

The hearing has previously heard the unit described by the baby's father as an "emergency response blackpot".

The inquiry into Nevaeh's death is being held at Forfar Sheriff Court.

The baby's mother Kimberley Stewart went to the unit after going into labour at her home in Auchenblae, Aberdeenshire, on 29 September and gave birth the following morning.

'Pale and floppy'

The fatal accident inquiry heard that midwives called doctors at Ninewells Hospital to alert them to Nevaeh's "pale and floppy" appearance within ten minutes of Nevaeh's birth at 05:10.

Thirty minutes later midwives noted that a neo-natal transport team was "en-route" from Dundee, 32 miles away, but that they did not arrive until 07:15.

By that time the two midwives working at the unit had begun CPR after they lost Nevaeh's pulse.

Sandra Menzies, who retired after 30 years working at Montrose Royal Infirmary three months after the tragedy, told the inquiry that the midwife-led maternity unit was the only part of the hospital in operation overnight with no doctors anywhere in the building.

She told how she and fellow midwife Suzanne Knox were "concerned" that Nevaeh might die when she was born pale and floppy and was not breathing

'Low-risk care'

Ms Menzies said: "She was marked as low-risk care. When baby was born she needed to be resuscitated.

"I opened her airway and gave her five ventilation breaths - her chest was moving which was a good sign.

"Suzanne called Ninewells and before the call even ended baby was breathing spontaneously."

However, despite Nevaeh having a normal heart rate and breathing on her own, she remained pale, floppy and non-responsive.

Fiscal depute Nicola Ross asked: "Would it be an unusual situation for baby to have a heart rate and have respiratory effort - and look to be in that condition?"

Ms Menzies replied: "Yes - it was very unusual. The numbers looked good. The baby did not."

In earlier evidence, the baby's parents have criticised the emergency response available to mothers at community maternity units.

The inquiry continues and is scheduled to be held over seven days between now and September.

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