An expectant mum whose waters had broken had a shock when she rang the Countess of Chester Hospital only to be told the maternity unit was full.
Katie Shone’s experience has highlighted something of a baby boom which has put a number of hospitals through the region on alert.
The Countess says it has been a ‘busy spell’ for births and it was one of five North West hospital trusts to put a diversion in place for maternity services.
Pregnant mum Katie Shone went through a marathon ordeal after contacting the maternity unit at the Countess of Chester Hospital and being told: “Sorry, we’re full”.
Katie and partner Lee Lynch, both aged 23, had to travel to Leighton Hospital in Crewe instead after the expectant mum’s waters had broken.
However, they were eventually able to go to the Countess when space did become available where Katie endured a 36-hour labour before giving birth to little Isobelle.
Their experience has highlighted an unusual situation for maternity services not just in Chester but in the entire region which seems to be going through a ‘baby boom’.
The Countess says it was one of five North West hospital trusts to put a diversion in place for maternity services during the second half of February.
But the Chester hospital stressed nobody needing urgent attention would ever be turned away from its doors.
Proud new dad Lee, a builder, who lives with Katie in Northwich, said his wife’s labour started at 4am last Monday but the Countess’ maternity unit had no room.
“We rang up and they said we’re closed so they sent us to Leighton,” he said.
“We were in there seven hours from 6am until 2pm and then we came through to here. We were booked in for 10pm at Chester but we went in at 8pm and then we were in there right the way through.”
The couple live half way between Chester and Leighton but preferred the Countess because Katie’s Huntington-based mum was her second birthing partner.
“They said it was our choice if we stay there or go to Chester,” Lee explained.
“It’s not their fault they were full. At least they sorted us out in the end. They were still full while we were there though. We went in a little room for a bit.”
The Countess says diverts are put in place as a standard practice in maternity services to manage peaks in activity.
A spokeswoman said: “This is a managed process across the region and involves a planned discussion with any women who may be affected before they leave their home for hospital at the appropriate point in their labour.
“The frequency of this happening varies from month to month and year to year, as there is no national tool that can predict demands for maternity services.”
Julie Fogarty, head of maternity services at the Countess, said: “Stress in pregnancy is not good for mums-to-be, so we want to reassure women who are expecting to have a baby at the Countess over the coming weeks not to be worried.
“Midwifery services work together across the region to support a safe labour and anyone with concerns about the likelihood of their preferred hospital being full when they are due to give birth can speak to their midwife directly about their options.”
Five generations pose with new born baby at family home
New parent Katie posed, with baby Isobelle, for a Chronicle photo at her mum’s home in Aldford Road, Huntington, to show off five generations of the same family.
Katie, a former pupil of Bishops’ High School in Boughton, was still exhausted when The Chronicle met her and her two-day-old daughter who weighed a healthy 7llb and six-and-a-half ounces when born at 3.51pm last Tuesday.
“My waters went and she just didn't come out,” Katie said.
Speaking about her emotions, she added: “I can’t explain it, I’m knackered. Hopefully I will have a nice sleep this afternoon. She’s been absolutely fine, good as gold.”
Her mum and new grandma Kathryn Lane, 47, owner of Charlie’s Kids Cuts in Boughton, who is married to Robin with two other daughters Sophie-Mae, 12 and Charlotte, 17, said: “Oh my God, I'm speechless. She’s amazing.”
Great-grandma Eileen Dodd, 67, from Caergwrle, said: “I don't know who was more overwhelmed, Kathryn being a grandma or me being a great-grandma. It’s just so exciting. Even though it’s been nine months and you’re expecting it, it's still very exciting when it happens.”
Her mother Margaret, 92, who also lives in Caergwrle, is happy with her new title of great-great-grandma. She said: “I couldn't believe it when I first realised what it meant to be that. I can't do any better than that.”