A baby who was so big she became trapped during birth was saved by medics who broke her arm.
Weighing 10lb 15oz, Poppy Screen got stuck midway through the delivery, leaving her unable to breathe – and doctors feared she would be stillborn.
But her life was saved after a quick-thinking consultant snapped her limb to free her and then battled for 12 minutes to get her breathing.
Poppy’s mother Lucy Screen, 26, from Abertillery in Gwent, South Wales, said: ‘We knew Poppy was on the big side but we didn’t know how big or I would not have risked a natural delivery.
‘She almost died and we were warned that because she had been starved of oxygen for so long she may have suffered brain damage. Thank goodness she is perfect. But we know how lucky we have been.
‘I think they were a bit worried when they told me they’d had to break Poppy’s arm, but I couldn’t thank them enough … She wouldn’t be here today if they hadn’t broken her arm.’
In May last year, 37 weeks into Mrs Screen’s pregnancy, doctors induced labour due to complications with her blood type. But having had their first child Rosalie two years earlier, she and husband Jonathon were expecting a straightforward delivery. Mrs Screen said: ‘I’d been told the second birth is always easier because your body knows what to do.’
The labour progressed quickly and everything went according to plan until after the baby’s head had been delivered.
‘I could see people’s faces change as they tried to deliver the rest of her but they couldn’t,’ Mrs Screen said. ‘They kept moving me around and I was pushing with all my might but it made no difference.’
Midwives called for emergency help after they suspected a case of shoulder dystocia, which means one or both of the baby’s shoulders get stuck behind the mother’s pelvis. The condition – which is common among larger babies – can be fatal.
It became clear that both of Poppy’s shoulders were trapped and she was being starved of oxygen.
Mrs Screen said: ‘Alarm bells were ringing and people were running in and out like a scene from a film … I knew we were losing her because I could see tears in the eyes of one of the midwives. I begged them to do anything to save her.’
It was then that a consultant snapped the unborn baby’s arm, freeing her so she could be delivered.
X-ray: The break allowed trapped Poppy to be delivered after her shoulders got trapped behind her mothers pelvis and she began to suffocate.
Mrs Screen said she ‘went into shock’ because she was so convinced that her child had died. But in the corner of the room medics continued CPR on the baby until finally, after 12 minutes, she took her first breath.
Poppy was rushed to special baby care while medics were left to explain to her parents that her arm had been broken. Mrs Screen said: ‘We didn’t care at all about that. We were just so grateful that they hadn’t given up on her.’
But the couple were warned that Poppy may have suffered brain damage after being unable to breathe for so long. She was transferred to the Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport for pioneering cooling treatment to reduce the risk of brain injury. Her mother said: ‘I broke down when I saw her.
‘She looked perfect other than a splint on her little broken arm and lots of nail marks where people had tried so hard to free her.’
Weak: Poppy pictured in hospital with a tiny splint. Her parents could not hold her for the first five days.
The anxious parents held vigil while Poppy was treated over the next 72 hours.
She began to breathe unaided and five days after the birth her parents were allowed to hold her for the first time.
‘It felt like a miracle,’ Mrs Screen said. ‘She had almost died but all she had to show for it was a broken arm.’ Poppy was discharged five weeks later and is now a perfectly healthy eight-month-old girl.
Mrs Screen is now calling for increased growth screening in the later stages of pregnancy to prevent incidents like her daughter’s. She is also walking 32 miles to raise money for Royal Gwent Hospital.