A former DGH consultant has warned that changes to the maternity services at the hospital will see a 300 per cent increase of babies born in cars in East Sussex.
Kirsty Peyton-Lander gave birth to her son Archie in the back of the family’s vehicle as her frantic husband Leigh Lander raced to the Conquest Hospital in Hastings.
She delivered her son with the help of an ambulance crew that Mr Lander flagged down on the journey, three days after the changes were introduced.
Vincent Argent, who was a consultant obstetrician gynaecologist at the hospital for 19 years, has warned that under the new system – which has seen the Eastbourne hospital become a stand alone midwifery-led maternity unit – the number of car births in East Sussex will rise significantly.
Mr Argent said giving birth in such a way was a high risk situation, adding, “The number of car births will increase by 300 per cent in East Sussex under this system.”
Mrs Peyton-Lander was planning to give birth at the hospital in Hastings because of complications in her pregnancy.
The couple were told to make their way over to the hospital when the contractions were five minutes apart. When Mr Lander was able to get back through to the hospital shortly before they left at 7am the contractions were four minutes apart.
His 31-year-old wife delivered baby Archie at 7.44am in the back of the car in Queensway, Hastings.
Referring to the dramatic birth, Mr Argent added, “It’s quite clear under the old system they would have been in hospital by the time she gave birth.
“The trust will have to get better at giving people advice in these situations.
“I also suggest that each pregnant woman in Eastbourne is issued with a delivery pack which contains the equipment for a birth outside hospital. The woman and her partner should be trained by their midwife in how to use the delivery pack and how to conduct birth in a car.”
Jamal Zaidi, Consultant Obstetrician, said, “There is absolutely no evidence to substantiate the claims of Mr Argent. It is a shame that all his comments do is scaremonger and cause anxiety amongst pregnant women. As an ex consultant he will know that the average length of labour for a woman is about 12 hours which is plenty of time for the woman to get to her chosen place of birth. There are occasions when labour is much quicker and some babies will be born very quickly. He will also know that in vast majority of these cases the baby is healthy and suffers no ill effects from its speedy arrival.
“We recognise there will continue to be, as there have been in the past, babies born before the arrival of a midwife. We do not anticipate a significant increase in these numbers.
“We are working with women during their pregnancy to plan their place of birth based on their individual preference, medical history and personal circumstances as well as encouraging them to practise a dummy run to their place of birth to plan the route and work out the journey time.”