Donna Kelly from UK, who suffered two miscarriages in the past, spent ten weeks, 24 hours a day, laid “upside down” in a hospital bed until she gave birth to a healthy daughter.
When doctors told five months pregnant Donna Kelly, 29, that she was at high risk of losing another baby, she readily agreed to their radical solution.
Ultrasound scans had shown that damage to the neck of Donna Kelly womb, or cervix, meant the baby had dropped too far down.
To alter the force of gravity on her cervix, Donna Kelly lay in a bed tilted at a 45 degree angle with her feet pointing upwards.
Donna Kelly had to eat, read and watch television in the bed at University Hospital in Coventry, only getting out of it to go to the toilet.
Donna Kelly, who gave up work as a gynaecology nurse following the birth of her son Joshua four years ago, said: “I was surprised when she told me to lie in bed at a tilt but I was ready to give anything a try.
“It made me feel sick at first but after a couple of days my body adjusted and I soon got used to it.
“I propped myself up with pillows and the barrier round the bed kept me from falling out.
“I’d even have to stay in the bed to eat by rolling on to my side, but I’d always have a dead arm by the end. It could be boring at times but I knew it wouldn’t be as painful as losing my baby.”
Doctors told Donna Kelly and husband Mark, 32, a Sky television installation engineer, that Joshua’s natural birth may have permanently weakened her cervix. They think this caused her to miscarry in January 2009 at 23 weeks and again in May 2010 at 19 weeks.
This time Donna Kelly was given cream containing the hormone progesterone to help strengthen the cervix and prevent infection.
She also underwent a cervical stitch at 14 weeks to strengthen the neck of the womb but by 23 weeks the cervix had re-opened.
Professor Siobhan Quenby, an expert in recurrent miscarriages, told the couple the only chance of preventing another miscarriage was to reduce the pressure on her cervix by making her lie at a tilt.
While his mother was in hospital, Joshua went to nursery but visited her each evening with his father. Donna Kelly gave birth to 4lb 15oz Amelia by emergency caesarean in August after her waters broke six weeks early.
Baby Amelia spent two weeks in an incubator in intensive care before the couple was allowed to take her to their Coventry home, where she is now thriving.
Donna Kelly added: “The other day Joshua said to me, <<Mummy, I love being a big brother>. For me that makes it all worthwhile.”
Prof. Siobhan Quenby said there were several causes of cervical weakness, including damage from previous births and miscarriages, smear tests and treatment for pre-cancerous cells.
“Donna’s cervical weakness was bad as you can get,” she added.
“It’s the weakest I’ve ever dealt with.
“The concept of keeping a woman at a tilt is relatively simple – it’s basic physics – and while it may sound strange, it is very effective.”
Prof. Sionhan Quenby said it costs around £300 ($450) per day to keep a patient in hospital, but the cost of caring for a premature baby in hospital is around £2,000 ($3,000) per day.