A baby born just a fortnight after the abortion limit weighing 2lbs 6oz has been thriving at home after spending eleven weeks on a ventilator.
Now six months old and a healthy 16lbs, Bailey Appleyard arrived more than three months early when his mother Clair Felstead, 25, from Leighton, Cheshire, went into labour at 25 weeks and six days.
Most abortions in England, Wales and Scotland are carried out before 24 weeks of pregnancy – and only performed after if the mother’s life is at risk or the child would be born with a severe disability.
Doctors put Bailey on a ventilator after he was diagnosed with chronic lung disease – which causes breathing problems – and Clair and partner Jordan, 25, were forced to leave their son alone at the hospital due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The parents were allowed to visit separately on alternating days, before finally taking their newborn home in late May, a week before his initial due date.
A baby born just a fortnight after the abortion limit weighing 2lbs 6oz has been thriving at home after contracting chronic lung disease and spending eleven weeks on a ventilator. Pictured, Bailey Appleyard and mother Clair
Now six months old and a healthy 16lbs (pictured right), Bailey Appleyard (pictured left, after his birth) arrived more than three months early when his mother Clair Felstead, 25, from Leighton, Cheshire, went into labour at 25 weeks and six days
Doctors were forced to put the 2lbs 6oz baby (pictured recently) on a ventilator after he was diagnosed with chronic lung disease – which causes breathing problems
Clair said: ‘Jordan and I were terrified when we were told that he could die at any moment if not under the most professional care. We were told by the doctor that I was asking questions they don’t know the answer to which scared me even more.’
The call centre worker said she was surprised when she went into labour on the 23rd February after being told the pregnancy was progressing normally.
She was getting ready for work, but visited the hospital immediately after feeling labour pains, recalling: ‘It was almost like he was just ready to come out early, we experienced no complications or health warnings.’
Clair went to the hospital that morning and found out from the doctor that she was 6cm dilated.
‘I was given tablets to delay the pregnancy by 48 hours as I wanted to make sure the baby was safe, two days later, I gave birth to baby Bailey’, she added.
Clair and partner Jordan, 25, were forced to leave their son (pictured) alone at the hospital due to COVID-19 restrictions
The parents (pictured with their son after his birth) were allowed to visit separately on alternating days, before finally taking their newborn home in late May, a week before his initial due date
The call centre worker said she was surprised when she went into labour on the 23rd February after being told the pregnancy was progressing normally. Pictured, Bailey just after he was born
WHAT IS A PREMATURE BIRTH, AND WHAT ARE THE RISKS TO BABIES?
Around 10 per cent of all pregnancies worldwide result in premature labour – defined as a delivery before 37 weeks.
When this happens, not all of the baby’s organs, including the heart and lungs, will have developed. They can also be underweight and smaller.
Tommy’s, a charity in the UK, says this can mean preemies ‘are not ready for life outside the womb’.
Premature birth is the largest cause of neonatal mortality in the US and the UK, according to figures.
Babies born early account for around 1,500 deaths each year in the UK. In the US, premature birth and its complications account for 17 per cent of infant deaths.
Babies born prematurely are often whisked away to neonatal intensive care units, where they are looked after around-the-clock.
What are the chances of survival?
- Less than 22 weeks is close to zero chance of survival
- 22 weeks is around 10%
- 24 weeks is around 60%
- 27 weeks is around 89%
- 31 weeks is around 95%
- 34 weeks is equivalent to a baby born at full term
Despite the medics best efforts, Bailey was born at 25 weeks and six days at Leighton Hospital in Crewe.
Neither Clair or Jordan were allowed to hold him, and at just 30-minutes-old, Bailey was rushed 31 miles away from his parents to a hospital in Liverpool.
Clair said: ‘I saw my baby come out and he was laid on the table for a moment and then sweeped off into an ambulance to Liverpool. Doctors at Leighton hospital told me the baby would have a better chance of survival at the Liverpool hospital.
‘I struggled with so many emotions. This was my first baby and I just wanted everything to go perfectly.’
Doctors weren’t able to say what caused his early arrival, but put him on continuous antibiotics to avoid contagious illnesses and infections and monitored his lungs and oxygen.
Clair (pictured left) was getting ready for work, but visited the hospital immediately after feeling labour pains, recalling: ‘It was almost like he was just ready to come out early, we experienced no complications or health warnings.’ Pictured right: Bailey and dad Jordan
Clair went to the hospital that morning and found out from the doctor that she was 6cm dilated. Pictured, Bailey recently
Bailey (pictured with his mother after his birth) was born at 25 weeks and six days at Leighton Hospital in Crewe
He was diagnosed with chronic lung disease as a result of his prematurity and was put on a ventilator for eleven weeks, until he reached 36 weeks of gestation.
WHAT IS CHRONIC LUNG DISEASE?
Chronic lung disease (CLD) is a lung condition that can cause long-term breathing problems. Babies born prematurely are more likely to get CLD.
The condition can develop in infants who need ventilators to help them breathe in their early days. Sometimes premature babies are born before their lungs are fully formed, meaning they cannot properly take in and absorb oxygen to stay alive.
The lungs also may not produce enough surfactant – a fluid that helps keep the lungs open.
Children suffering with this condition are given extra oxygen.
The condition most commonly affects babies who are born more than 10 weeks before their due dates and weigh less than 2 pounds.
It affects around 10,000 newborns every year in the US. It’s not known how many children in the UK develop the illness.
During his growth, Bailey was also diagnosed with E-coli, which symptoms include severe stomach cramps, vomiting, and diarrhoea.
Clair said: ‘As a first time mother, I was scared of anything and everything. We had fears that Bailey would have different infections everyday that could be deadly.
‘He was put on a ventilator and was fed through a drip but we weren’t told much else unless we were there.’
Due to the coronavirus lockdown, Clair and Jordan, 25, stayed in a local hotel and were only allowed to visit baby Bailey separately and on alternating days.
Clair said: ‘Coronavirus ruined my first three months with my baby – I just wanted to spend everyday cuddling him, but I couldn’t.
‘It’s one thing going through what we went through and that heartbreak, but it’s another just not being able to see him and spend time with him.’
Bailey was discharged in late May, a week before his initial due date and is now six- months-old and weighs around 16lbs, and is a healthy, bubbly baby.
He even towers over the cherished cuddly teddy octopus which once dwarfed him following his recovery.
Due to coronavirus, parents are unable to take their babies to the clinic as often unless of emergency.
Clair added: ‘I laid him next to the octopus teddy in his crib and he is has grown so much bigger than it he’s so cute.
‘The whole experience was full of ups and downs and so many emotions. I am so glad to have him in the house living with me and Jordan.’