When Ayla Heller was pregnant, her daughter Maddy’s in-utero movements slowed down, and she eventually stopped kicking. Some firm and sensible advice from Ayla’s own mum saved her baby’s life.
So I've decided I wanted to share publicly what happened with my delivery in hopes that it can help someone else one…
“Be safe, rather than sorry”
In a long post on Facebook, Ayla Heller shared her story and issued a warning to other parents to trust their instincts and seek medical assistance if they suspect something is amiss.
“If you have doubts, go in. Go in. Go in. Go in!!! Always be safe rather than sorry,” the relieved mum wrote.
Ayla was 38 weeks pregnant, expecting her first baby with boyfriend, Dalton Henderson, when she felt something was not quite right.
“The day I turned 38 weeks was obviously just a normal day, I got up and went to work like usual. Pretty early that morning I had already noticed Maddy wasn’t kicking around very much but had assumed she was having a less active day (which happened regularly). By noon, I felt her adjust her position which brought to my attention that she still hadn’t kicked, but at least I had felt some kind of movement,” Ayla explained.
By 7pm that night, the worried couple realised that Maddy had not been kicking at all that day and her movement had slowed down dramatically.
“I became uneasy as I realized she still hadn’t moved all day,” Ayla wrote. “I took a bath, drank cold orange juice, Dalton poked at my belly, and we even listened to her heartbeat with our fetal Doppler (there was a heartbeat) but still no movement.”
Unsure of what to do, Ayla consulted the typically unhelpful Dr Google, who advised her that a) something could be very wrong or b) the baby had “run out of room” and all was well.
A concerned Ayla turned to her own mum for more sensible advice.
“My Mom was very persistent and insisted I go in or at least call my midwife,” Ayla recalls. “So I called my midwife, left a voicemail, and eventually got a call back saying there would be a room waiting for me in the labor center.”
Ayla and Dalton headed to the hospital, where the mum-to-be was admitted and a process of monitoring the baby and trying to encourage some movement began.
“Literally at one point they had my bed set up to where my belly and legs were flat and my upper body was tilted upside down,” Ayla says. Despite best efforts, their little girl remained quiet and inactive.
This lack of response from tiny Maddy quickly escalated things. Ayla’s midwife was summoned and the worried mum was prepared for an emergency c-section, which happened very, very quickly.
“Before they could even get Dalton in the room they began the delivery. She came out fine and cried a little bit, but she needed oxygen.”
“After about 40 more minutes, Maddy and I were released back to our original room,” Ayla remembers.
After the birth, doctors diagnosed that there’d been a problem with the placenta and that – through no fault of Ayla’s – baby Maddy had been struggling for quite some time.
“I was informed that my placenta had aged prematurely, was calcified, and had basically given up,” Ayla explains.
“This had caused Maddy to not be receiving as much oxygen or food as she needed. This was causing her to try to preserve her energy, which is why she had stopped moving. This also caused her to have low blood sugar upon arrival so she needed to be hooked up to a glucose drip IV her first few days.”
From all accounts, this was a narrow escape for this now healthy and happy family.
“My mother asked what would have happened had I not gone in when I did. “She wouldn’t be here” was the reply,” Ayla wrote. “She wouldn’t have made it the rest of the night…”
Trust your instincts
“You know your body and what’s normal for your baby,” Ayla posted, urging parents to trust their instincts. “If you have doubts, go in. Go in. Go in. Go in!!! Always be safe rather than sorry. Because I almost didn’t. I almost waited till morning to see if anything changed. And had I done that, I wouldn’t have my love.
Ayla said the adage that babies could “run out of room” and that lack of movement was nothing to worry about was a potentially life-threatening myth.
“I’ve heard so many stories of stillbirths because signs may not have been taken as seriously as they should’ve been,” she wrote.
“I wanted to let anyone expecting, or planning to have a baby to be aware of activity and that a halt in activity is very much NOT normal.”
We’re so glad Maddy arrived fairly happy and healthy, and that this family acted in time to save her life.