Mother-of-four, 24, reveals baby was born with her intestines outside of her stomach


A mother-of-four has revealed her horror after discovery her baby girl would be born with her intestines on the outside of her body.  

Laura Woodward, 24, from Clitheroe, Lancashire, received the news her baby had gastroschisis – a rare birth defect that causes a baby’s intestines to be born on the outside of their body – shortly after her 12-week scan.

The mother was terrified, but after a tense few months little Millie Woodward was born via planned C-section on 11 December 2020, weighing 5lb 11ozs, at Liverpool Womens NHS Foundation Trust. 

Her exposed intestines were wrapped in cling film before Laura was allowed her first cuddle, and within hours her vital organs were re-inserted into the body – leaving nothing to show for her traumatic start in life other than an outie belly button.  

Laura Woodward, 24, from Clitheroe, Lancashire, revealed her horror at discovering that her baby girl would be born with her intestines on the outside of her body. Pictured, Laura and Millie at 10 months

Laura Woodward, 24, from Clitheroe, Lancashire, revealed her horror at discovering that her baby girl would be born with her intestines on the outside of her body. Pictured, Laura and Millie at 10 months

She was born with gastroschisis - a rare birth defect that causes a baby's intestines to be born on the outside of their body. Pictured, Millie one day after her birth at Alder Hey Children's Hospital

She was born with gastroschisis – a rare birth defect that causes a baby’s intestines to be born on the outside of their body. Pictured, Millie one day after her birth at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital

‘To look at her now, you’d never think she’s been through all of that’, said Laura.  

‘My whole world stopped when the sonographer told me they were “sorry”- I thought that was it.

‘But after the most stressful time of our lives she arrived, and it couldn’t have gone better.

‘We’re so proud of her – she’s just a beautiful little girl.’  

Her exposed intestines were wrapped in cling film before Laura was allowed her first cuddle

Pictured, Millie at Liverpool Womens NHS Foundation Trust before being  transferred Alder Hey Childrens Hospital

Her exposed intestines were wrapped in cling film before Laura was allowed her first cuddle (pictured left), and within hours her vital organs were re-inserted into the body shortly after birth 

Laura tried not to let it worry her when partner Adam Porter, 30, wasn't able to join her for her 12-week scan at Blackburn Hospital in June 2020, due to coronavirus restrictions. Pictured, Laura during her first trimester of pregnancy

Laura tried not to let it worry her when partner Adam Porter, 30, wasn’t able to join her for her 12-week scan at Blackburn Hospital in June 2020, due to coronavirus restrictions. Pictured, Laura during her first trimester of pregnancy

Millie is pictured with one of the surgeons who saved her life at Alder Hey Hospital,

Millie received reversal surgery, to reinsert her small and large intestine into her body, an operation that went 'incredibly smoothly'

Millie received reversal surgery, to reinsert her small and large intestine into her body, an operation that went ‘incredibly smoothly’ at Alder Hey Hospital, Liverpool. Left, Millie with one of the surgeons who saved her life. Right, Millie at Liverpool Womens NHS Foundation Trust before being transferred Alder Hey Childrens Hospital

Pictured, Millie breastfeeding through her nasojejunal feeding tube on December 19th last year

Pictured, Millie breastfeeding through her nasojejunal feeding tube on December 19th last year 

The couple, who already had children Ava, seven, Zachary, five, and Tommy, decided to have a private eight-week gender test in May 2020 before the 12-week scan a month later. 

‘I wasn’t worried because I’d done it all three times before with my other children,’ Laura said.

‘I knew the process, and my other pregnancies had been so smooth, so I didn’t have any reason to think this time would be any different.’

Laura tried not to let it worry her when partner Adam Porter, 30, wasn’t able to join her for her 12-week scan at Blackburn Hospital in June 2020, due to coronavirus restrictions.  

But her world was turned upside down when the sonographer revealed their unborn baby had a rare birth defect.

Pictured, Millie at home with her mum following her successful surgery

'To look at her now you'd never think she's been through so much,' Laura said

‘To look at her now you’d never think she’s been through so much,’ Laura said of her baby daughter, pictured L-R at home with her mum following her successful surgery 

'But after the most stressful time of our lives she arrived, and it couldn't have gone better. We're so proud of her - she's just a beautiful little girl', said Laura about little Millie

‘But after the most stressful time of our lives she arrived, and it couldn’t have gone better. We’re so proud of her – she’s just a beautiful little girl’, said Laura about little Millie

The couple are pictured at home with baby Millie and their children Ava, seven, Zachary, five, and Tommy

The couple are pictured at home with baby Millie and their children Ava, seven, Zachary, five, and Tommy

‘They just looked at me and told me they were sorry – it felt like everything went into slow motion,’ Laura said.

‘I didn’t understand what it would mean for our baby, I was just terrified.’

The rare condition causing babies to be born inside out: What is gastroschisis? 

Gastroschisis is a type of abdominal wall defect. It occurs when a child’s abdomen does not develop fully while in the womb.

In gastroschisis, the abdominal wall does not form completely so the intestines develop outside and are open to the air when the child is born.

Some areas of the intestines may look darker as they have been in contact with the amniotic fluid inside the womb, which can damage them.

It is not known exactly what causes gastroschisis although it is becoming more common, particularly in younger mothers under the age of 20 years.

Overall the incidence is quite low with 1 in 3000 babies being born with gastroschisis each year.

Source: Great Ormond Street Hospital

 

The couple were referred for a specialist scan to gain further insight into their little girl’s birth defect, and doctors confirmed she would be born with gastroschisis, where the intestines grow outside of the body.

‘They tried to reassure us but it sounded terrifying,’ Laura said.

‘We were told I didn’t have to continue with the pregnancy if I didn’t want to, but there was no way I wasn’t giving our baby a chance.

‘They told us it was a high survival rate and something that can be fixed – so we just have to hope for the best.’

Laura said she found it incredibly hard to remain positive and was unable to enjoy her pregnancy – so was overwhelmed with relief when she was finally admitted to hospital for a planned C-section.

Little Millie, now eleven months, arrived at 11:11 on 11 December 2020, weighing 5lb 11ozs.

‘I’ve always thought 11 is a lucky number – even more so now!’, Laura said.

‘When she arrived they wrapped her exposed organs up in clingfilm and allowed me to hold her for a bit which was just what I needed after all those months of worrying.’

Millie received reversal surgery, to reinsert her small and large intestine into her body, an operation that went ‘incredibly smoothly’ at Alder Hey Hospital, Liverpool.

‘To look at her now you’d never think she’s been through so much,’ Laura said.

‘She just has a little outie bellybutton to show for it, and is a little smaller than her friends, but I couldn’t love her more if I tried.

‘I try not to molly-coddle her but I just want to do everything I can to protect her now she’s here.

‘She’s just perfect in every way.’

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