CHANGE NEEDED: Felicity Aitken sharing a moment with her son, Shai, after he passed away.
CHANGE NEEDED: Felicity Aitken sharing a moment with her son, Shai, after he passed away. Contributed

Mother's desperate plea after death of baby son

Trigger warning: This story discusses stillbirth and contains images that may be upsetting to some.

 

A HEARTBROKEN Queensland mother is calling for changes in hospital practices after the death of her tiny son - which she believes could have been avoided.

South Burnett mum Felicity Aitken wants change at Kingaroy Hospital; not the infrastructure, but rather the culture and practices within the hospital.

Ms Aitken had a stillbirth at the hospital in March 2017, giving birth to her son Shai.

It was a death she believes could have been avoided.

"It was a really surreal experience because I had never held death or had it close to me before," she said.

"You should be looking at your baby, feeding it, hearing its breath. I went in there pregnant with the car seat ready and I came out with dirty pyjamas because they stuffed up my birth and getting the baby out."

She understood the risks of giving birth at 41 years old and was prepared to travel to Brisbane or Toowoomba but the staff at Kingaroy assured her they could deliver her baby.

"I was a high-risk pregnancy and I should never have had my baby there but I trusted that they would look after me," she said.

A spokesperson for Darling Downs Health Service said the service expresses sympathy to families who have stillbirths and miscarriages.

"It is not appropriate for Darling Downs Health to publicly discuss the details of individual cases for patient confidentiality reasons," they said.

"However, we extend our sympathy and ongoing support to all families who deal with the tragedy of stillbirth and miscarriage."

 

Felicity Aitken sharing a moment with her son, Shai.
Felicity Aitken sharing a moment with her son, Shai. Contributed

Ms Aitken felt during the birth the practitioners were not listening to her or one of the midwives.

"Everyone's voice needs to be heard," she said.

"What I want to see is that all practitioners are trained correctly and procedures and policies followed through."

She also believes practitioners need to understand what to do when a birth doesn't go as planned.

"After the birth they didn't know how to deal with me, they forgot to refer me to the community nurse and I had to remind them to give me tablets to stop my breasts from lactating," she said.

"I have had to go through a lot of counselling and trauma birth counselling and I believe midwives need to talk to people who counsel births and understand the needs of the mother."

Darling Downs Health Service said the staff at the Kingaroy Hospital are appropriately trained for their roles.

"All our staff are appropriately trained and ongoing professional development is undertaken in various areas to maintain high standards of care," they said.

"As a healthcare service we look for opportunities to improve our care and we welcome feedback from patients, carers and families on how this can best be achieved.

"After some clinical incidents, a review is undertaken by an independent clinical team and the recommendations are implemented to improve practices.

"This is an open disclosure process where the patient and family are kept informed of the review and outcomes.

"Consumers are also involved with health service planning so we can understand individual and community needs and expectations."

An upgrade to maternity services is part of the planned Kingaroy Hospital redevelopment, due for completion in 2021.

Ms Aitken's oldest son, Joshua, is eight years old.

She said Shai's death had taken its toll on Joshua and left her with post traumatic stress disorder.

"There is a little boy that doesn't have a brother and grandparents that don't have a grandchild," she said.

Ms Aitken moved from Sydney to the South Burnett two months before her due date.

She wants to work with those involved to ensure the best level of care is provided to the community.

"I don't want the death of my son to be unnoticed, I want change to happen," she said.

"I want to be able to heal and sit down with the people involved and say 'what changes have you made about the death of my child', because this should never happen to any other family ever again.

"I want to see rural health not be looked at as second class."

 

**Do you need to talk?** Call Lifeline on 13 11 14 any time. 

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