A mother died hours after giving birth to her third child due to a complication caused by a condition related to having multiple C-sections, her family has revealed.
Hayley Roberts, 34, died after suffering a massive haemorrhage in hospital, a complication caused by placenta percreta, a condition where the placenta penetrates through the uterine wall and attaches to another organ such as the bladder. The risk of developing the condition increases with each Caesarean a woman has.
Speaking to exclusively FEMAIL, Hayley’s mother Jackie George, 63, from Wirral, Merseyside, told how her daughter had been offered the option of terminating the pregnancy once the condition was diagnosed, but chose to put her unborn baby first.
Jackie said: ‘Hayley’s children meant everything to her and she was so excited about having a third baby.
‘When she was diagnosed with percreta she was offered a termination but she put her baby first and made the decision to keep going.’
Hayley Roberts, 34, from Wirral, Merseyside, bled to death undergoing her third C-section after suffering from the high-risk pregnancy complication, placenta percreta. Pictured, Hayley with husband David on their wedding day
Mother-of-three Hayley has left behind her children, Lilly and Oliver and baby Ivy (pictured)
Jackie (pictured with daughter Hayley) is now hoping to raise awareness of the condition and the dangers of repeat C-sections
She continued: ‘We were warned the condition could cause severe complications and I was upset on learning Hayley would need a hysterectomy after delivery and possibly her bladder removed. But we didn’t know she could die.
‘Her beautiful little girl, Ivy, survived but she will never know her mummy. But Hayley was someone who’d help others and if her story prevents it from happening to someone else, then her death won’t be in vain.’
Hayley was the third of Jackie’s four daughters and Jackie says she was beautiful inside and out.
‘She had such a caring side, even as a child she’d always looked out for others,’ she explained. ‘When she was older she was a mobile hairdresser for a time. She’d go round doing all the old folks’ hair and afterwards she’d offer to do some housework for them.’
Hayley met her future husband, David, on a night out and when she fell pregnant Jackie was thrilled.
PLACENTA ACCRETA: A POTENTIALLY LIFE THREATENING CONDITION
A placenta is an organ which forms in the uterus during pregnancy to nourish and maintain the foetus through the umbilical cord.
Placenta percreta is a disorder where the placenta doesn’t get the signal to stop growing, Dr Chavi Karwowsky, a maternal foetal expert at Montefiore Medical Center, New York, explains.
It keeps spreading, down and out, through the lining of the uterus in what is called placenta accreta.
Or the placenta can keep growing through to the muscle wall of the uterus in what’s called a placenta increta.
It can penetrate through the uterus, working its way to adjacent organs such as the bladder or bowel – in what’s called a placenta percreta.
A woman who has had one prior caesarean has a risk of 3 percent; a second caesarean ups the risk to 11 percent; at the third, 40 percent; fourth, 60 percent; and by the fifth, the risk of placenta accreta jumps to 67 percent.
‘They made a lovely couple and I knew always knew Hayley would make a wonderful mother, she was such a natural,’ she said.
Hayley planned a natural birth too. But in 2011, when she went into labour the baby became distressed and she needed an emergency Caesarean.
The surgery went well and baby Lilly was perfect.
Three years later Hayley fell pregnant again. Having already had a C-section it was just presumed she’d have another with her son, Oliver.
‘Everything went as planned and Oliver was such a little cutie,’ recalled Jackie. ‘When he was two Hayley, then 30, and David, 32, married in our local church and he and Lilly, then 5, were pageboy and bridesmaid.
‘Wearing her vintage lace dress Hayley looked like a film star but she had no thought for herself. She loved the fact her children stole the show, they looked so adorable.’
Then in summer 2019, Hayley announced she was expecting another baby.
‘She was so excited, she couldn’t wait,’ Jackie said. ‘But soon we discovered this pregnancy was different from her previous two because of the problem with her placenta.’
A scan at 17 weeks revealed Hayley had placenta increta and her consultant told her there could be complications.
‘Hayley was asked if she wanted to terminate the pregnancy but she said no,’ explained Jackie. ‘She wanted to keep her baby. It was her decision and although I was worried, I respected that and so did David.’
But two weeks later another scan revealed the condition had worsened to percreta.
Hayley’s placenta had now burst through the wall of her womb and a further scan at 23 weeks showed it had attached to her bladder.
‘I sat with Hayley as they explained they’d have to deliver her baby early,’ said Jackie. ‘They also told her that afterwards she’d need a full hysterectomy and possibly her bladder removed.
‘I was devastated for her. She didn’t want anymore children but I struggled with the enormity of what she faced.
‘But she accepted it and calmly told them, “as long as the baby’s okay that’s all that matters.” ‘It was typical of her, putting others first.’
When Hayley was diagnosed with percreta she was offered a termination but she put her baby first and made the decision to keep going. Pictured, Hayley on her 30th birthday
By now Hayley and David had found out it was a little girl and her goal was to reach 24 weeks, knowing by then the baby would be viable.
When she reached that milestone the next was to keep going until the following week and so on.
‘Feeling concerned I went with her to all her fortnightly appointments,’ recalled Jackie. ‘David was worried too but he wanted to support Hayley in what she wanted.
‘But she couldn’t relax, she constantly fretted – never for herself, but for her baby. She kept saying, “I just want her to be okay,” as she’d cradle her bump protectively.’
At 30 weeks, Hayley felt breathless and her legs began to swell.
A scan revealed the percreta was putting a strain on her heart and her condition was now considered too serious to be treated at her local hospital so she was taken to another hospital, a two hour drive away.
There, doctors gave Hayley steroid injections to strengthen the baby’s lungs and a week later in March 2020 they deemed her healthy enough to deliver.
‘I went to see her the night before and I could tell she was scared, but not that she’d let on,’ Jackie said. ‘I tried to hide my concern too, telling her, “you’ll both be home before you know it”.’
Jackie said that Ivy (pictured, now 21 months) is ‘amazing’ and is a ‘little ray of light’
The following day David was with Hayley as she was taken into theatre. Around 11am he rang Jackie to tell her their little girl, Ivy, had been born.
‘I was thrilled and I’d never felt so relieved,’ explained Jackie. ‘I couldn’t wait to see Hayley and meet my new granddaughter.’
But shortly after David rang Jackie again, sounding panicky. He’d been taken into the family room and guessed something must be wrong.
‘At first I thought he meant Ivy but it was Hayley,’ she said. ‘When he told me, “I think you’d better come,” my head span. Immediately I got in the car, I don’t remember the two-hour drive there.
‘When I arrived with my partner Lawrence and my daughter Rachael, David met us and told us Hayley was still in theatre with complications.
‘As we waited for news David took us to see Ivy. Born weighing just 3lbs 4oz, she was tiny, and like a perfect little doll.’
Afterwards they sat in the family room and as the hours passed different doctors and nurses came in and out, telling them they were working on Hayley.
With it taking so long Jackie guessed that along with the hysterectomy they’d had to remove Hayley’s bladder too.
‘I thought, “my poor girl, what she was going through”. But we’d all pitch in while she recovered,’ said Jackie.
Finally around 7pm Hayley’s surgeon emerged, with a team of medics, looking grave. He told them Hayley had suffered a massive haemorrhage, a complication of placenta percreta. They’d fought all day, pumping 72 units of blood into her.
But her blood loss had been impossible to control. And now he had to deliver the devastating news. Hayley wasn’t going to make it.
Hayley was the second to last youngest of Jackie’s four daughters and Jackie says she was beautiful inside and out. Pictured, Jackie with Hayley as a baby
Jackie said that ivy is now ‘thriving.’ Pictured, wearing the same christening gown as Hayley when she was a baby
‘When he told us we had to say our goodbyes I screamed and felt my legs give way,’ said Jackie.
‘Lawrence had to hold me in his arms. Afterwards I don’t know how I managed to walk but somehow I did, into a room where Hayley lay, her eyes closed and hooked up to a life support machine. It was the most heartbreaking sight.’
The priest came and read the last rites and afterwards Jackie asked for Ivy to be brought in.
She then gently placed her on Hayley’s chest and with tears running down her cheeks she promised Hayley that she’d look after her children.
Afterwards they said goodbye as Hayley’s machine was switched off and she passed away, aged 34.
David was too traumatised to tell Lilly then eight, and Oliver, five, so Jackie sat them down with Hayley’s three sisters, Rachael, Vicky and Sarah and gently broke it to them.
‘Oliver was too little to understand but Lilly screamed for 10 minutes for her mummy,’ explained Jackie. ‘A few days later we took them to see Ivy. They adored her but they expected to see their mum too.’
Now, 21 months on, Jackie (pictured, recently) still can’t believe that her daughter has gone
Three weeks later, Hayley’s funeral was held but because of lockdown restrictions only a few could attend.
Now, 21 months on, Jackie still can’t believe that her daughter has gone. But she says David, who’s been left to bring up three children, has been incredible, while she helps out each day and does the school runs.
She added: ‘It’s the children who keep us going. They’ve been amazing and Ivy is a little ray of light. Despite being born prematurely she’s now 21 months old and thriving. And one day when she’s old enough we’ll tell her about her beautiful, brave Mummy.
‘We were warned about severe complications with percreta but we didn’t know Hayley could die. Before she was diagnosed none of us had even heard of this condition related to repeat Caesareans.’
Currently, 1 in 4 births in the UK are via C-sections and the family believe women should be made aware, especially in regard to multiple Caesareans.
Jackie, who has since launched a fundraising page, said: ‘Hayley was someone who’d always help others and if by telling her story we can prevents it from happening to someone else, then her death won’t be in vain.
Kate Edwards, UK Global Ambassador for the National Accreta Foundation commented: ‘We are saddened to hear of Hayley’s passing and unfortunately Placenta Accreta spectrum is becoming more common.
‘We can be found on Facebook – Placenta Accreta support group UK and can offer support and ensure women are given all the correct information’.