Young mother saved her newborn baby's life after midwives told her 'not to worry'

Despite assurances her baby was fine, Anna noticed he had a pale nose, and thought he was pursing his lips as if struggling to breathe. Picture: SWNS
Despite assurances her baby was fine, Anna noticed he had a pale nose, and thought he was pursing his lips as if struggling to breathe. Picture: SWNS
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A young mother has been praised by a hospital after she trusted her instincts and spotted symptoms of a deadly infection saving her newborn baby's life.

Anna Santos-Witkowska, 29, couldn't ignore the niggling feeling that something was wrong with her baby boy Oliver, just hours after giving birth.

Anna Santos-Witkowska, 29, couldn't ignore the niggling feeling that something was wrong with her baby boy Oliver, just hours after giving birth. Picture: SWNS

Anna Santos-Witkowska, 29, couldn't ignore the niggling feeling that something was wrong with her baby boy Oliver, just hours after giving birth. Picture: SWNS

Despite assurances her baby was fine, Anna noticed he had a pale nose, and thought he was pursing his lips as if struggling to breathe.

And when she couldn't get him to latch onto her breast, her mother's instinct kicked in and told her that her boy was in danger, and she pleaded midwives take a closer look.

It turned out baby Oliver had a collapsed lung and was suffering from pneumonia and septicaemia as well as a kidney and liver infection.

Later tests revealed Anna was a carrier of Group B Streptococcus (GBS) which passed on to Oliver, causing his potentially deadly infections.

Anna said: "I genuinely didn't know whether or not I'd be coming home with Oliver." Picture: SWNS

Anna said: "I genuinely didn't know whether or not I'd be coming home with Oliver." Picture: SWNS

Thanks to Anna, doctors were able to save her baby's life and Oliver is now a healthy little boy.

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Anna, from Ealing, London, said: "Oliver is my only child, so I didn't really know what was normal for a newborn baby, but something told me he wasn't right.

"I think mother's instinct had a huge part to play and maybe I was extra anxious with being a new mum.

"The midwife changed his nappy and assured me he was ok, but he still looked uncomfortable and wasn't latching onto my breast, so I called her back in for help.

"I'm so glad that I persisted and got her to come back a second time - I just felt in my gut that it wasn't normal and that feeling ended up saving my baby's life."

Anna met assistant shop manager Romek Santos-Witkowski [CRCCT], 32, in 2006, and the pair tied the knot in December 2017 in their native Poland.

Primary school teacher Anna discovered she was pregnant in October 2018.

Anna's pregnancy appeared to be normal until her waters broke on 21 June 2019 and doctors told her she was a high risk case due to reduced fetal movement.

The first time mum was in labour for 39 hours before her baby boy Oliver was born the next day at Northwick Park Hospital, weighing a healthy 8lb 1oz.

Anna said: "When I was in labour for so long, the doctors did warn me that babies are at a higher risk of contracting an infection when they aren't born within 18 hours of the mother's waters breaking.

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"I was understandably worried, but the midwives couldn't care less about me stressing and just said the delay was because they were short staffed.

"When Olly finally arrived after 39 hours of labour, I was relieved to hear the doctors say he was healthy and fine.

"The midwife said that as Olly and I were both healthy, we could stay on the ward for the next five hours to recover and then we were free to leave."

As the next few hours passed, the new mum grew concerned over her baby's health.

Oliver looked uncomfortable, and after Anna struggled to get him to latch onto her breast to feed, she asked the midwife to take a look at her baby.

The midwife changed Oliver's dirty nappy and handed the baby back to Anna, but the young mum couldn't shake the feeling that something was wrong, she said.

Anna said: "Oliver kept squirming and his nose looked pale, but the midwife just put it down to him having a dirty nappy and changed it before giving him back to me.

"I just had this gut feeling that something wasn't right, and I think I may have been extra vigilant and persistent because I was worried after I was in labour for so long.

"When I called the midwife back the second time, she was just about to finish her shift and brought in another midwife who was due to take over from her to observe Oliver together.

"They started discussing something dropping below 80%, which I later found out was to do with his oxygen levels, and then one of the midwives got a doctor to come look at him.

"The doctor took Oliver to the neonatal unit for an x-ray and immediately saw that he had a collapsed lung.

"A nurse later told me it was a result of me being a carrier for GBS - something I had never heard of or been tested for."

Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is a very common bacterium carried by 2 in 5 adults in the UK, often in the gut, and for 25% of women, in the vagina.

Carriers of GBS are often unaware that they have the bacterium inside them as it doesn't cause any symptoms, but it can be fatal to newborn babies.

Two babies a day in the UK will develop a GBS infection, with one baby a week dying and onea week surviving a GBS infection with a long term disability.

In the UK, pregnant women are not routinely offered testing for Group B strep by the NHS, but expectant mothers can pay £35 for a test.

Anna said: "I had never heard of GBS before this, and had no idea that I was carrying something which could potentially infect and kill my baby.

"If I had known about the option of paying for an ECM test to protect my baby, I wouldn't have hesitated in paying £35 for the test.

"GBS is too common and too deadly for mothers to have not heard about it, and I just want more women to know they can be tested for it so nobody has to experience what I did."

On the neonatal ward, Anna was told that the GBS had resulted in pneumonia which led to Oliver's lung collapsing.

Blood tests revealed that Oliver was also suffering with septicaemia and a kidney and liver infection.

Doctors immediately started the newborn on antibiotics to combat the infections before they spread to his brain.

They had to administer a lumbar puncture on the poorly baby when he was just one day old to ensure he didn't contract meningitis.

Thankfully, testing his spinal fluid showed that the infections hadn't spread up to Oliver's brain as the antibiotics started to work just in time to stop it.

Anna said: "I genuinely didn't know whether or not I'd be coming home with Oliver.

"I remember thinking to myself 'Oh my god, I'm going to have to ask someone to clear out my house of any baby things. Who on earth do I give the awful job of removing any signs of a baby?' "We were told that Olly could have died or ended up severely brain damaged, but that was only after he was clearly getting better.

Oliver was discharged from the hospital a week after being born.

Anna said: "We are blessed to finally have Olly home, and I feel so lucky that he's completely healthy now and has no problems at all.

"The midwife who helped me the day Olly was born came to see me a few days after I gave birth and told me she was so impressed by my mother's instinct and that I'd saved my son's life.

"I have now suffered with PTSD as a result of going through this with Olly.

"I worried about absolutely everything and was convinced that so many things were happening or going to happen to my little boy.

"I want other mums to know that that's not something to be ashamed of and that they're not alone."

Northwick Park Hospital said the NHS doesn't routinely test women for Streptococcus B during pregnancy, but that they will always check mums and babies closely for any signs of concern both before and after birth.

A spokesperson for Northwick Park Hospital said: "We respect the intuitive and understanding a mother has and Anna did the right thing by alerting the midwife who immediately responded to her concerns.

"We're delighted Oliver made such a great recovery and wish him and his family all the best."