This clinical negligence claim concerned the alleged failure by the attending midwife to adequately supervise and advise Julia Geis-Clements on breastfeeding during the hour or so after her daughter, Cerys Clements’ delivery, resulting in a profound asphyxia insult and cerebral palsy.

The claim centered around the allegation that Julia Geis-Clements should not have been advised that when breastfeeding shortly after delivery, baby Cerys would wriggle and move her head backwards if she could not breathe. Further, Julia Geis-Clements should have been advised to check Cerys when breastfeeding, so that if the airway became obstructed, her head could be moved backwards. Finally, it was alleged that the Midwife should have returned to the room an hour and 5 minutes post birth to undertake regular checks.

On consideration of the midwifery expert evidence, at a Trial in the High Court on 25 to 28 June 2018, Mrs Justice May concluded that the advice that babies would move to breathe during breastfeeding, was in line with a responsible, reasonable and respectable body of midwives practicing in 2012. The Court held that this practice was logical with a proper basis and that midwives were still providing this reassurance in 2018. Further, the Court accepted that it was appropriate to leave the family for about 40 minutes or more to enjoy their bonding time. The Court concluded that the care of mother and baby during the birth and afterwards was in accordance with all the guidelines.

The Claimant’s case was that her asphyxiation was caused by her airways being obstructed by her mother’s breast tissue. The Court considered the literature provided by the expert Neonatologists on Sudden Unexplained Postnatal Collapse and was not satisfied that on the balance of probabilities Cerys stopped breathing because her mouth and nose were obstructed by her mother’s breast tissue and concluded that Cerys’ collapse remains unexplained. The claim was dismissed.

A spokesperson for Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust said: “We extend our sympathy to Cerys and her family and wish them all the best for the future.”

Capsticks Solicitors LLP were instructed on behalf of the Defendant by Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and NHS Resolution.