Newborn baby dies after his 'dog tired' mother fell asleep while breastfeeding him in hospital be

Ann Bradley had been breastfeeding her newborn son Louie Francis while lying in a bed at Royal Bolton Hospital on August 27 last year.

Bolton Coroner's Court heard on Thursday that first-time mum Ann had woken up to find her newborn son Louie “white and floppy”.

Ann said she was struggling to breastfeed her son and had been told by midwives she could feed him by lying down on the bed side by side.

Assistant coroner John Pollard is now to write to hospital bosses raising concerns about the advice given by midwives.

He said it was "extraordinary" a new mother was left alone in bed with her baby when she was extremely tired after a long labour.

Louie died in hospital last year due to a combination of factors including an accidental obstruction of the airways.

Ann told the hearing she was feeling "a bit nervous" and was having difficulty breastfeeding so had chosen to stay in hospital for an additional night.

She said: "I was happy to stay – I felt it was a good idea because of how badly the breastfeeding was going."

Ann, from Harwood, near Bolton, said she had been advised to put the baby on her bare skin when he was cold.

She added: "They said we could lay on our sides."

Jane Westhead, the midwife who taught her the feeding technique of lying on her side, said that bed sharing is discouraged and bed safety awareness is discussed.

She said: "We make them aware of the dangers – I don't know if there's an actual policy, but that's what we do."

The midwife referred to specific guidelines about bed sharing in her evidence – but the coroner said that advice given had been contradictory.

Mr Pollard said it contradicted national advice against 'co-sleeping' because mothers are likely to be very tired after giving birth and therefore at risk of falling asleep.

Angela Helleur, a midwife expert and chief nursing officer for Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust, said: "We haven't got much option in terms of where the breastfeeding occurs.

"The important advice to give is if women feel tired or sleepy to put the baby back in the crib."

Pathologist Dr Melanie Newbould also found that Louie had undiagnosed bronchopneumonia at the time of his death and symptoms of a common cold.

Mr Pollard recorded a narrative conclusion stating: "On the 27th August 2017 Louie Francis Bradley died as a result of a combination of natural and unnatural causes, these being undiagnosed bronchopneumonia and symptoms of a common cold and an accidental obstruction of his airways whilst in bed following a breastfeed."

Following the assistant coroner's letter to the trust, he has given them 56 days to respond.

Val Clare, Head of Midwifery at Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, said: "It is such a tragedy when the unexpected death of a baby takes place.

"This was a very rare event and we feel for Louie's family.

"We are a Level Three UNICEF baby friendly initiative accredited unit which is the highest standard for breastfeeding and is a prestigious award, however we always strive for improvement and so, taking into account the coroner's comments, will review guidance."

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