The 27-year-old was admitted to hospital to await a miscarriage. When she did not go into early labour, she was advised to terminate the pregnancy.
Doctors said the unborn boy could not survive losing so much of the protective fluid from her womb.
But after conducting her own research, Cally sank 15 pints of water a day to replenish the lost liquid.
It worked — and ten weeks later, Cally gave birth to 1lb 10oz Leo.
Cally, from Ashton-under-Lyne in Greater Manchester, says: “Leo is our real-life water baby. I’m sure the water I drank saved him by helping to protect him until he was strong enough to be born. I couldn’t terminate when his heart was beating.
“That’s when I desperately started researching and found the advice about the water. It’s astonishing doctors said there was nothing they could do, yet something so simple may have saved his life.”
Full-time mum Cally and partner Jason Clark, 26, an IT manager, already had Oliver, nine, and Holly, five, when they found out they would be parents again.
Having already suffered four miscarriages, Cally was terrified when she started bleeding early in the pregnancy and doctors diagnosed a blood clot in the womb.
To not tempt fate, superstitious Cally avoided taking photos of her bump. At 16 weeks, the bleeding seemed to have stopped. But just two weeks later, Cally was folding washing at home when she realised her waters had broken.
At hospital, a consultant told her the baby could not be saved and to expect a miscarriage.
I had nothing to lose so I just kept sipping
She says: “Jason and I clung to each other and cried.
“It was heartbreaking to think our baby would soon be gone, especially as I could still feel him moving inside me.
“He was too small to survive labour. They called it a miscarriage but, to me, it didn’t feel like that.”
It was then she realised she had no pictures with her baby bump, so she got out her phone.
She recalls: “I cradled my bump and was saying goodbye to him as the picture was taken. I was so upset that this was going to be our first and last ever photo.”
By the next morning there was still no sign of labour and a scan showed her son’s heart was still beating.
She says: “I was told a termination was the best option because they said he had a less than one per cent chance of survival with my waters having broken so early. They said the small amount of fluid was not enough for him to survive.”
Desperately seeking information, Cally headed to Facebook and found a group called Little Heartbeats, which supports women who suffer from pre-term pre-labour rupture of membranes, known as PPROM.
Cally says: “When I read that other mums believed drinking more water had helped, I knew straight away I couldn’t give up on my baby.
“I kept researching and read that the more the mother drinks, the more the baby urinates which increases the amniotic fluid, so it made sense that drinking more might help replenish some of the waters at least.
“I had nothing to lose so thought I would try.” Doctors accepted her decision but warned there was a high chance of infection.
Following advice on the Little Heartbeats website she rested as much as possible and drank 15 pints — nine litres — of water a day.
The average recommendation is to drink six to eight glasses (1.2 litres).
Vital for survival
"Just ten per cent of babies born at 18 weeks survive the mum’s waters breaking.
“It’s vital for the mother to rest and look out for fever or other symptoms that suggest infection.
“Drinking plenty of fluids prevents dehydration and can help fight infection. There’s evidence extra fluids counteract the loss of amniotic fluid and help the baby survive.
“When a baby beats the odds and is born alive, as Leo was, lung problems are common, as amniotic fluid has a major effect on lung development.”
She says: “It wasn’t easy drinking that much but I had to try for our baby, so I forced it down.”
To her and Jason’s delight, their unborn son continued to grow.
Cally says: “I was desperate to get to 24 weeks, which is when Leo would be recognised as viable and given medical assistance to stay alive, so I just kept sipping away.”
At 24 weeks she was given steroid injections to boost Leo’s lungs.
Finally, at 28 weeks, contractions started and Cally gave birth to Leo at Royal Bolton Hospital on July 16, 2016. He was unresponsive and needed resuscitating but kept fighting and was finally allowed home a week before his due date in October. By then he was a healthy 6lb 1oz.
Now just a few months short of his second birthday, he has been given a clear bill of health.
Cally says: “All mums think their kids are a miracle but Leo really is.
“Don’t get me wrong, he’s a little terror sometimes, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.”
A spokeswoman for Little Heartbeats said: “Many mothers we support who have experienced PPROM believe that drinking water has helped.
“But tragically we acknowledge this might not always be the case, as there are many contributing factors and each pregnancy is unique, which is why we continue to fundraise for more research.”
- For more information about Little Heartbeats, visit little-heartbeats.org.uk.
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