Stillborn baby’s mother ‘was a good candidate for a C-section’

Michelle and Barry Rocks at Belfast Coroner's Court where an inquest for their still born daughter Cara is being held
Michelle and Barry Rocks at Belfast Coroner's Court where an inquest for their still born daughter Cara is being held

The mother of a baby stillborn at a Northern Ireland hospital had been a good candidate for a planned caesarean section, an inquest has been told.

The revelation came as harrowing details about the circumstances of Cara Rocks’ death emerged during the second day of her inquest at Belfast Coroner’s Court.

Barrister Fiona Doherty QC, representing Cara’s parents Barry and Michelle Rocks, of Moneymore, Co Londonderry, cross-examined middle grade obstetrics specialist Dr Joanna Krystowska.

She said: “There was a history of a previous c-section. You had determined that the baby was big and in addition the baby was presenting as breech.

“This was a good candidate for a planned c-section.”

Cara was stillborn at the Causeway Hospital, in Coleraine, on June 26 2013.

Dr Joanna Krystowska, who assessed Mrs Rocks at 32 weeks pregnant, acknowledged she had been “keen” for an elective c-section.

The medic, who had more than a decade of experience at the time, conceded that while she could not have predicted the future of the pregnancy, Mrs Rocks would have been a prime candidate for the planned surgical procedure. She added that the final say on a mode of delivery should always lie with the patient.

When pressed on the issue of choice by coroner Joe McCrisken, the doctor replied: “My role is to express all pros and cons regarding both modes of delivery.

“The last decision is for the patient.”

Later, Dr Krystowska claimed everyone involved in the case had been left “traumatised” by Cara’s death.

She also accepted that she may have told the family that the baby had been “hanged” during complications at delivery involving the umbilical chord.

She added: “I think this couple and the people involved were traumatised by this event. Out of my sympathy I might have said something like that.”

On Tuesday, the Northern Health and Social Care Trust that runs the hospital apologised for Cara’s death and admitted a series of failings in the care provided to the baby’s mother.

The hearing continues.