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

A mother of four has revealed her horror after discovering that her daughter would be born with her guts on the outside of her body.

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

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

Her exposed viscera had been wrapped in cling film before Laura got her first hug, and within hours her vital organs were reinserted – nothing was left of her traumatic start to life except a bulging belly button.

Laura Woodward, 24, of Clitheroe, Lancashire, revealed her horror when she learned that her daughter would be born with her guts on the outside of her body.  In the picture, Laura and Millie of 10 months

Laura Woodward, 24, of Clitheroe, Lancashire, revealed her horror when she learned that her daughter would be born with her guts on the outside of her body. In the picture, Laura and Millie of 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 bodies.  Pictured, Millie a 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 bodies.  Pictured, Millie a 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 bodies. Pictured, Millie a day after her birth at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital

“Looking at her now, you’d never think she’s been through all of that,” Laura said.

“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 got her first hug

Her exposed intestines were wrapped in cling film before Laura got her first hug

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

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

Her exposed intestines were wrapped in cling film before Laura got her first hug (pictured left), and within hours her vital organs were reinserted into the body shortly after birth

Laura tried not to worry her when partner Adam Porter, 30, was unable to join her for her 12-week scan at Blackburn Hospital in June 2020, due to coronavirus restrictions.  In the picture, Laura during her first trimester of pregnancy

Laura tried not to worry her when partner Adam Porter, 30, was unable to join her for her 12-week scan at Blackburn Hospital in June 2020, due to coronavirus restrictions.  In the picture, Laura during her first trimester of pregnancy

Laura tried not to worry her when partner Adam Porter, 30, was unable to join her for her 12-week scan at Blackburn Hospital in June 2020, due to coronavirus restrictions. In the picture, Laura during her first trimester of pregnancy

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

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

Millie underwent reversal surgery to reinsert her small and large intestines 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 to Alder Hey Childrens Hospital

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

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

Pictured, Millie breastfeeds 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 an eight-week private sex test in May 2020, before the 12-week ultrasound a month later.

“I wasn’t worried because I’d done it three times before with my other kids,” Laura said.

“I knew the process and my other pregnancies had gone so smoothly so I had no reason to think this time would be any different.”

Laura tried not to worry her when partner Adam Porter, 30, was unable 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 that their unborn baby had a rare birth defect.

In the picture, Millie at home with her mother after her successful surgery

In the picture, Millie at home with her mother after her successful surgery

“Looking at her now, you’d never think she’s been through so much,” Laura said of her daughter, introducing LR at home with her mother after her successful surgery.

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

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

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

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

“They just looked at me and said they were sorry — it felt like everything was going in slow motion,” Laura said.

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

The rare condition that causes 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 fully develop in the womb.

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

Some areas of the intestines may appear darker because they have been in contact with the amniotic fluid in the uterus, which can damage them.

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

In general, the incidence is quite low: every year 1 in 3000 babies is born with gastroschisis.

Source: Great Ormond Street Hospital

The couple were referred for a specialist scan to learn more about their little girl’s birth defect, and doctors confirmed she would be born with gastroschisis, in which the intestines grow outside the body.

“They tried to reassure us, but it sounded terrifying,” Laura said.

“We were told I didn’t have to go through with the pregnancy if I didn’t want to, but I wouldn’t give 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 difficult to stay positive and couldn’t enjoy her pregnancy – so she was overwhelmed with relief when she was finally hospitalized for a planned cesarean section.

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

“I’ve always thought 11 is a lucky number — even more so!” Laura said.

“When she arrived, they wrapped her exposed organs in cling film and let me hold her for a moment, which was just what I needed after all those months of worrying.”

Millie underwent reversal surgery to reinsert her small and large intestines into her body, an operation that went “incredibly smoothly” at Alder Hey Hospital, Liverpool.

“Looking at her now, you’d never think she’s been through so much,” Laura said.

‘She has only a small belly button to show, and is a little smaller than her friends, but I couldn’t love her more if I tried.

“I’m not trying to coddle her, but I just want to do everything I can to protect her now that she’s here.

“She’s just perfect in every way.”

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