Susan Strongman

Broadcasting reporter for the New Zealand Herald

Justice seen at last: Mum

Belinda Wharehinga says story of baby Shalom’s botched delivery ‘served its purpose’.

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

A mother whose botched delivery of her baby daughter led to a midwife being criticised says she has finally seen justice served for the little girl.

Belinda Wharehinga revealed her identity online after a Herald story on Tuesday detailing a Health and Disability Commission decision against the midwife, which had removed the parties' names.

Mrs Wharehinga, a mother of two, laid a complaint against the woman, and shared the story of the birth of her daughter Shalom, who now suffers delayed communication and social skills, on the website of the group Action to Improve Maternity (Aim).

"I can only say, we've done the best by our daughter in seeing justice served. I am so thankful for the outcome in all aspects," she wrote.

"If more of these incidents are prevented and our babies [are] delivered safely and in good health, Shalom's story has served its purpose."

She said she hoped some serious change would occur within maternity care as a result of the decision.

Health and Disability Commissioner Anthony Hill criticised the midwife for failing to provide services to Mrs Wharehinga with reasonable care and skill.

He said some of the midwife's choices placed Mrs Wharehinga and her baby in danger and she would be referred to the director of proceedings to decide whether any further measures should be taken.

Mrs Wharehinga was 35 weeks pregnant when she went into labour and phoned her midwife, who the commissioner found did not communicate adequately and failed to assess the situation properly.

"She ignored what I said and treated me as though I was an inconvenience to her," she wrote on Aim's website.

The midwife eventually advised her to go to the maternity unit in Botany, and upon her arrival saw Mrs Wharehinga was in labour and called an ambulance.

The commissioner found that Mrs Wharehinga should have been advised to go directly to hospital, based on her risk factors.

"We left the maternity unit en route to Middlemore Hospital and a few minutes later I had a contraction and felt something fall out," she wrote.

"I told the midwife to have a look. She did so and said to me she could see baby's head and instructed the ambulance to turn around and go back to the birthing unit."

A second midwife then joined the pair in the ambulance and upon seeing the baby's legs and umbilical cord protruding, ordered the ambulance to return to the hospital, while applying pressure to the baby and holding the prolapsed cord in order to keep it warm.

"I remember [the second midwife] saying in an urgent voice, 'I'm trying to save your baby'.

"In the meanwhile my midwife looked on in shocked horror."

Upon their arrival at the hospital, Mrs Wharehinga's baby was delivered by caesarean section.

"I was taken into theatre and I remember praying and crying out to God in desperation to please save my baby."

On July 23, at 7.57pm Shalom was born and immediately transferred to the neonatal unit for head cooling in an attempt to minimise any brain damage caused by lack of oxygen during birth.

"Shalom went on to recover, and three weeks later we took our girl home," Mrs Wharehinga wrote.

She is now 2 and has been assessed as having delayed communication and social skills.

Mrs Wharehinga wrote that she encouraged all women who felt there was something wrong during pregnancy to go to the hospital, even if their midwife had not advised them to.

nzherald.co.nz
To read more about this story go to tinyurl.com/midwifeunwise.

- NZ Herald

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