‘My son could have been an A6 baby’

Sydney Kirkham with parents Alison and Rick and sister Lola
Sydney Kirkham with parents Alison and Rick and sister Lola

CORBAR Birth Centre wasn’t a luxury for Buxton mum Alison Kirkham – it was either that or having an A6 baby.

For when Alison’s son Sidney arrived in June, the labour was so quick that she had no chance of reaching Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport and would have had to deliver him somewhere on the A6 in the back of an ambulance or the family car.

It’s a prospect that’s horrifying for Alison and she’s adamant that Buxton’s under-threat birth centre unit should remain open.

“If Sidney was born on the A6 I would have been in a lot of distress,” she said. “It would have been very frightening.

“You only give birth to your baby once and you want everything to go well. You don’t want to give birth in the back of an ambulance and you don’t want to give birth in the back of a car. It’s something that does happen sometimes – that’s life – but it’s not what you’d want.”

Thankfully Alison, who lives on Holmfield with husband Rick, daughter Lola and Sidney, was able to give birth at Corbar on June 11.

But when she started having contractions at 35 weeks, she had to go to Stepping Hill, where she says she was left unattended for four to five hours because the staff there were so busy.

“The staff there were very nice and very professional but there just wasn’t enough of them to deal with the volume of people coming through the doors and I was left alone for a long time.

“You’re just a number there because they’re so busy.

“Goodness knows what it’ll be like if they do shut Corbar and everybody’s shipped down there.”

She added: “After being in at 35 weeks, I couldn’t wait to get to 37 weeks (when Alison could give birth at Corbar). I did not under any circumstances want to go down to Stepping Hill again.

“It’s nothing to do with the hospital, I just didn’t want to give birth in that environment, in a room where they couldn’t even find me a pillow (because they were all already taken).

“I’m not saying the staff at Corbar are not busy – because they are – but you’re never left unattended, there’s always someone around for help and advice.

“The midwives and midwifery assistants are very approachable, they’re fantastic.

“You’re not just on a conveyor belt, in and out.”

Alison also had daughter Lola, three-and-a-half, at Corbar and has first-hand experience of the benefit of having such an important facility close to home.

“During pregnancy if I had any problems, there were people on hand at Corbar,” she explained. “At various times if I was a bit concerned about something, I could just nip up to Corbar and get checked out. It was really useful to allay any fears or concerns. If Corbar closes women will have to go to Stepping Hill or Macclesfield for that.

“I just think Corbar is a fantastic facility and it’s a crying shame they want to shut it.

“The birth experience there is fantastic and even if Stepping Hill was closer, I’d still choose to go to Corbar.

“It’s a lovely relaxing environment and that is important when you’re giving birth and just after you’ve had your baby.

“It’s an invaluable service for the community and it would have a massive impact on people’s lives if it were to close.”

Alison’s husband Rick, agreed. “It’s an absolute lifeline for the community. It’s not a long way to travel to Stockport in a lot of cases but it is when your wife’s having a baby and it’s coming very quickly.”

Even though little Sidney made his appearance rather quickly and Alison managed to make it to Corbar in time, Alison knows that if she’d have given birth while on the way to Stockport, things could have been different.

“If it had been in the car, there could well have been a lot of complications afterwards,” she said.

“Some people might think giving birth very quickly is absolutely fantastic and it can be but it can also be quite scary. My baby was born after a labour of 40 minutes and the last thing I needed was to be thinking Oh My God I might deliver in the car as well.

“When you give birth you want everything to be ok and to be in a place with the right people around you. And you at least want to be on a bed.