A mother who suffered two miscarriages and two stillbirths has spoken for the first time about her heartbreaking ordeal in a bid to save St Helier Hospital’s maternity unit.
Last month the Better Services Better Value review (BSBV) put forward its preferred model for the future of health services in south-west London recommending that St Helier lose its accident and emergency and its maternity departments.
Taya Cunningham, 43, from Kingswood, credited the hospital with helping her through her “darkest times” and has voiced her concerns for future mums should the unit close – which was only opened three years ago at a cost of £2.8m.
The mum-of-two had her first child, Siena, eight years ago, but it was another six years before she had her second daughter after four failed pregnancies.
After falling pregnant for the fifth time Mrs Cunningham said: “St Helier was amazing as I was totally paranoid at the time.
“They gave me lots of extra scans and I was introduced to their grievance counsellor.
“She would see me on a regular basis and made sure I wasn’t getting too stressed.
“Unfortunately at six months I felt that the baby wasn’t kicking and sadly the baby had died again.
“Having another child was the only thing keeping me going and I was in a very dark place.”
Mrs Cunningham was referred to Maggie George, a midwife and the only counsellor in the area who caters to the emotional needs of pregnant women and is frequently referred patients from other hospitals and GPs, a service which would disappear from St Helier should the maternity unit close.
She said: “For all my patients I feel it would be a great loss.
“What we focus on is looking at their physical well being as well as their mental state – the two go hand in hand.
“If we don’t look after them properly then women do commit suicide because they haven’t been given the support.”
Mrs Cunningham was then referred to a specialist a two-hour journey away in London by St Helier doctors.
She said: “When you are pregnant and stressed that’s a long time to be travelling, but St Helier were happy to do the majority of my treatment and liaise back with the London hospital.”
After falling pregnant for the sixth time Mrs Cunningham finally gave birth to baby Mia, now two, after an anxious 38-week wait.
She said: “That was probably my darkest time.
“Everyone is so happy and you finally have this baby, but actually you’re not because you have that baby in your arms and you suddenly realise, two of these died.
“That’s when you don’t know who to talk to because no one really understands.
“You will never forget those babies you buried, having to give birth to them and carry them.
“The only people who really understood was St Helier because was they are coping with it all the time.”