Mother loses baby after being given 'abortion' drug to induce labour

Interested in home birth, hospital birth or private midwifery care? Questions or comments? Email Melissa Maimann or call 0400 418 448. Link

The death of Sofia Figus three days after she was born was caused by a lack of oxygen ... Her mother Anne ... was 12 days overdue when she was prescribed Misoprostol – a drug widely used in abortion clinics – to bring on contractions.

Mrs Willicombe and her husband ... are now suing the ... Hospital ... for failing to monitor the baby ...

Misoprostol is only licensed ... for the treatment of stomach ulcers. Under official guidelines ... it should not be used to induce labour unless as part of a clinical trial.

... the drug ... is cheaper than other methods to induce birth ...

Belinda Phipps, chief executive of the National Childbirth Trust, said she was "absolutely incredulous" that any hospital would give the drug to women ...

She said: "This drug is not licensed for use in labour, and the NICE guidance is categorical on that point. In this country, misoprostol should only be used in labour if the baby is already dead, or after the birth, because otherwise the risks are simply too great."

Mrs Willicombe was not informed the drug was only recommended for use in clinical trials – and nor was she told that she was taking part in any trial.

"I just remember them being very reassuring and saying this drug is fine," ...

... Mrs Willicombe ... was not properly monitored and was treated in a room unsuitable for what should have then been classified a high-risk birth.

Within 10 minutes of being given the drug ... her waters broke – almost certainly naturally because it was too soon for the Misoprostol to take effect. About four hours later, she was given a second dose leading to contractions which then became more frequent ...

... The mother-to-be was moved from the maternity ward to the delivery suite but then placed in a room ... without proper monitoring equipment ... The midwife then ordered Mr Figus to hit the alarm button. A team of doctors raced in to deliver the baby, the first time Ms Willicombe realised her dream of a first child was turning into her worst nightmare.

"She just came out blue and lifeless," recalled Ms Willicombe, "She was completely floppy. They held her up very briefly for us to see her and then took her away to resuscitate her ... she ... suffered severe brain damage due to a lack of oxygen ... we agreed to take her off the ventilator. Three days later she died."

... a coroner in east London concluded Sofia had died of natural causes as a result of neglect.

Their lawyer ... said: "It appears clear that Mrs Willicombe received substandard monitoring during her labour with Sofia. This substandard monitoring also needs to be put in to the context of the use of an unlicensed drug which is known to have the side effect of uterine hyperstimulation. It appears that Sofia's death could have been avoided, had the monitoring been appropriate."

... " ... it was not the drug which led to complications for her mother, but rather the failure of a midwife to provide proper supervision during labour ... That midwife has ... been dismissed ...

Melissa Maimann, Essential Birth Consulting 0400 418 448