Published On: Thu, Jul 11th, 2024
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Mum’s innocence proved by monitor but she ‘can’t be alone with baby’ | UK | News

A first-time mother has revealed how her nanny cam was instrumental in proving her innocence when her baby stopped breathing during breastfeeding. Ushma Kansara, 33, suffered from post-natal depression after her four-day-old daughter Amara stopped breathing, leaving her unable to be alone with her child.

In a terrifying ordeal, Amara was unable to breathe for several agonising minutes, prompting her father Harshil, 36, a service engineer, to perform CPR on the tiny infant before she was rushed to hospital. Doctors suggested that an ‘unsafe swallow’ might have caused Amara to choke and stop breathing.

Although no one was at fault, standard procedure required the police to review the incident at the hospital, though it was not classified as an “investigation”. Fortunately, the presence of a baby camera, which recorded the couple’s conversation, their attempts at CPR, and the 999 call, allowed officers to confirm there were no safeguarding concerns.

However, the traumatic experience left Ushma shaken and fearful that her daughter would be taken away from her. She continues to struggle with postnatal depression and even a year later, she still can’t be alone with her now one year old daughter due to fears of another health issue arising.

Ushma, an early-years assessor from north London, is now determined to help reduce the stigma surrounding post-natal depression and encourage other mothers who are suffering to seek support. She confessed: “I can’t be left alone with my daughter – I just fear when I’m alone with her.” 

“I felt guilty and thought it was all my fault because I was feeding her when she stopped breathing.

“We would like to have a second child but with the trauma and experiences we’ve had we need to work on my mental health.

“Being able to be alone with my daughter is something we’re going to work on. I’m very easily triggered by the smallest of things. It’s hard to know how I’ll respond in different situations.”

Amara was born on January 3 2023 and went home on January 7. But on the morning of January 8, as Ushma was breastfeeding her daughter, the baby stopped breathing.

While Ushma was going through the initial checks, Harshil called the ambulance and started CPR.After rushing her to hospital, Ushma and Harshil were confronted by police who said they were attending as part of their safeguarding procedures.

Thanks to a baby camera, police were able to confirm there were no safeguarding concerns. Amara was taken to Eveline London Children’s Hospital where she was in intensive care for five days and underwent cardiology and MRI scans.

She was moved to a local hospital in early February, and home soon after. But she was tube fed until she was eight months old and her parents continue to monitor her for unsafe swallows.

Ushma has candidly opened up about her battle with guilt and self-blame, despite undergoing counselling and cognitive behavioural therapy. She found solace in penning a diary, which she transformed into a book titled “Dear Amara: How you survived”, published in April 2024.

Ushma shared, “There were days were I would just be in bed crying and there are days even now when I just don’t want to do anything,” She continued, “My daughter will be playing in front of me, and I just want to be on the sofa.”

The struggle extends to her work-life balance as she expressed, “When I’m working, I just want to be with my daughter – I miss her – but other days I’d rather be in bed all day than face the world.”

Ushma’s mission is clear: “I want to raise awareness. My book is written for mums in similar positions.”

She aims to provide guidance, stating: “There’s information in there about the questions they can ask and what mindset to be in.”

Ushma believes that open discussions can lead to recognition of post-natal depression, explaining, “Having those conversations will allow people to recognise post-natal depression because when you’re in it, you don’t recognise that you’ve got it.”

She concludes with a call for empathy and understanding: “And less stigma will help people accept the fact that they have it, and might help their family accept and help the condition rather than suffering in silence.”

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