First-time South Yorkshire mum gives birth to tiny premature baby at 24 weeks, weighing just 1lbs 2oz
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A woman who lost nine stone to fall pregnant gave birth to a 1lbs 2oz baby 16 weeks early – and he was so tiny he was dwarfed by his toy stuffed octopus.
Della Shiel, aged 32, from Rotherham, had always dreamed of being a mum, and decided to lose weight after struggling to conceive for a year.
She had a gastric bypass to lose nine stone and was delighted to fall pregnant with her partner, 31-year-old Joe Morris, a steel worker, in October 2022.
Della, a homeless officer, struggled with hyperemesis – severe morning sickness – from early on in her pregnancy, but despite feeling ill herself, she was consistently told the baby was fine.
Della said: “On March 12, 2023, I was sat on the sofa, and I felt a gush. I looked and it was blood.
“I wasn’t worried – I had a little bleeding early on.”
Della went to Rotherham General Hospital to get examined, and to her shock was told she was in labour.
She said: “I saw the nurse's face – she went to get someone more senior. They came back and told me I was 5cm dilated.”
Unfortunately it was too late for Della to have a cervical stitch, but the doctors aimed to keep the baby in for as long as they could. But when Della’s waters broke, they decided to transfer her to Bradford Royal Infirmary, where they were better equipped to look after premature babies.
Della managed to hold on for two days until March 14, when she suffered a cord prolapse – meaning the umbilical cord had slipped in front of the baby.
Her son, Henry Morris, was born March 14, at 8.55am weighing a tiny 1lbs 2oz at Bradford Royal Infirmary.
Della said she felt “guilty” watching her tiny son “covered in wires” in hospital.
She said: “The first few weeks were the scariest. Seeing something so small fighting – but knowing he should be tucked up in the womb was so hard.
“I brought him into this world, I knew everything he had to go through.
“When I saw Henry for the first time it was just surreal. I felt I was watching someone else’s life. His skin was very delicate, it was hard to recognise him as my baby at first. I felt so sorry for him.”
Baby Henry spent 100 days in hospital. He stayed on a ventilator for seven days before being moved onto CPAP - to help with breathing. Then at two weeks old he battled sepsis and acute kidney injury.
After undergoing nine blood transfusions, Henry finally went home on June 22 – 12 days before his due date.
Now four months old, Henry is a healthy 9lbs 6oz and settling in at home.
Since coming home Henry has had laser eye surgery for his retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) – an eye disease often common in premature babies.
He is also being monitored for his heart condition - pulmonary stenosis – a heart valve disease.
“I feel really lucky to have him home,” Della said. “It’s been lovely. He presents as a typical newborn – sleeping, eating and filling his nappy.”