The Rainbow Clinic made a huge difference to our lives

Fran and Doug from London found out they were expecting their first baby in 2018. Their daughter Beth sustained severe brain damage during birth and died several days later. Throughout Fran’s next pregnancy, she was supported by Professor Alex Heazell at the Rainbow Clinic in Manchester. Baby Dominic was born via C-section in February this year.

 Doug and I were delighted when we found out we were expecting a baby in 2018. After an easy and uneventful pregnancy, I went into labour on the evening of November 15th and want to the hospital early the next morning.

Tragically, just 30 minutes before Beth was born, her heartbeat was lost. She was resuscitated and quickly transferred to the neonatal unit, where she was looked after for 3 days. Sadly, after it became apparent that Beth did not have any brain function, Doug & I made the difficult decision to remove her life support several days later.

Beth will always be our first born and is very much part of our family.

Getting a referral to The Rainbow Clinic

I had many questions about what had happened – we felt completely lost. We wanted to try and again as soon as possible to have a sibling for Beth, so it felt important to find out what went wrong and if it could happen again. We felt like we needed more support than our local hospital was able to offer.

We found about the Rainbow Clinic at Tommy’s Research Centre in Manchester on a forum for bereaved parents. Lots of people were talking about the wonderful work of Professor Heazell and I contacted the clinic to see if I was eligible for support despite living in London. They got back to me very quickly and informed me that our GP could refer us to the Rainbow Clinic.

After the referral, we were booked in for a preconception consultation with Prof Heazell. I was already pregnant with our second child when we had our appointment. Prof Heazell was amazing. He answered all of our questions and created a plan for the pregnancy. He also offered us an in-depth placenta scan at 23 weeks and let us know that we could contact the Tommy’s midwives whenever we needed extra support. It made me feel better know that Prof Heazell was overseeing us.

I was terrified something would go wrong in the pregnancy, but the support from Prof Heazell helped me to cope with my anxiety.

Personalised care throughout my pregnancy

Pregnancy after loss is, at times, a terrifying experience. Most mornings, my first thought upon waking would be “is my baby still alive?”.

Whenever we had a worry, the team at the Rainbow Clinic answered any questions I had very quickly via email which was incredibly helpful me. When I think it about it, it’s amazing how quickly Prof Heazell and his team would respond. I know they treat so many families, but it never felt like they were too busy. The care was incredible.

At 23 weeks, we visited the clinic for our scan. Thankfully, my placenta looked healthy and baby was growing as expected. We were offered another scan when I was 34 weeks for extra reassurance. At this appointment, Prof Heazell noted a high doppler reading and recommended that my local hospital keep on eye on it.

Giving birth to our son

A week later, the reading was still high and, in conjunction with my consultant and based on the advice of Prof Heazell, my delivery date was brought forward. I decided to give birth via an elective C-section; I did not want to go through labour again.

Our son, Dominic was born on Valentine’s Day. It was such a special moment when he was placed into my arms.

Prof Heazell helped me to make informed decisions about my own care. His recommendations empowered me to advocate for myself when planning for the birth of our son.

Thank you, Tommy’s

Having access to the Rainbow Clinic made a huge difference to my pregnancy, mental wellbeing and our lives and we will be forever grateful for the safe arrival of her brother. I want to say a heartfelt thank you to Prof Heazell and his team. Without his support, we would have been lost.

I passionately believe that there should be more Rainbow Clinics across the country. Pregnancy after loss is incredibly tough and requires special support. The care they offer is vital and should be accessible to all.