Mum who saved her choking baby wants all parents to know how to give the kiss of life

20th Feb 18 | Real Life

Brave Nicola suffers with flashbacks to when she battled to save her daughter's life.


Forced to give her seven-week-old baby the kiss of life, after she choked on her own mucus, a mum is now campaigning for all parents to have "vital" resuscitation training.

Just five weeks before Nicola Bell’s husband, Steve, 45, realised their premature daughter, Cece, had stopped breathing and turned blue in her cot, the couple from Rothwell, Leeds, West Yorkshire, had been trained to resuscitate newborn babies at their local hospital.

Stay-at-home mum, Nicola, 37, said: “Cece had started choking on her own mucus, after suffering with a bronchiolitis”

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Mum Nicola with Cece (Collect/PA Real Life)

She went on: “I cannot even contemplate what it would have been like if we'd lost her and I am desperate for other mums not to through the same thing as me.

"It was horrendous. You would never want to resuscitate your own baby, but if that heart-breaking moment comes, parents should know how to do it."

Left with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – an anxiety condition, caused by trauma – Nicola still experiences horrifying flashbacks of the events that morning, when she battled to save her baby.

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Cece was saved by mum Nicola (Collect/PA Real Life)

But she will always be grateful that the policy at Pinderfields Hospital, in nearby Wakefield, where Cece was born on October 11 2017, eight weeks early, weighing 4lb 7oz, is to offer training to all parents of babies admitted to either the neonatal or transitional care units.

Now Nicola and tool hire company assistant manager, Steve – also parents to Caiden, four – wants the training to become compulsory on Pinderfields neo-natal unit, as well as wanting to raise awareness nationwide.

Currently, the hospital simply documents it in the baby’s discharge plan if parents have refused the training and there is no national policy for it.

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Callum with Caiden, Cece and mum Nicola (Collect/PA Real Life)

Nicola, who named her daughter Cece, after the waitress in TV show First Dates, discovered she was pregnant hours before her hen weekend in Bradford in March 2017.

Then, on October 10, she was looking after her son, Caiden, when she felt a gush and, panicking, ran to the bathroom without her phone, discovering her underwear to be soaked with blood.

Running upstairs after his mum, quick-thinking Caiden managed to find her phone and rang his dad, asking for help.

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Nicola named Cece after the waitress in TV show First Dates(Collect/PA Real Life)

Steve, in turn, called his wife’s friend, Hayley, who lived nearby and she dialled an ambulance – rushing over to look after Caiden and Nicola's son Callum, 15, from a previous relationship.

Meanwhile, meeting Nicola at Pinderfields Hospital, Steve was with her when Cece was born by Caesarian the next morning at 11.48am.

Nicola smiled: "We had no idea of the sex, but when the midwife said it was a girl, I just knew she was a Cece. I loved the named from the TV show First Dates, even though she spells it Cici.”

She went on: "And Steve said that, after everything I had been through with the birth, it was my choice."

Kept in the Neonatal Unit for two-and-a-half weeks, the family finally took their baby girl home at the end of October.

Then, on their final day in hospital, Steve, who has a 16-year-old son, Luke, from a previous relationship, and Nicola, were given the training that saved Cece’s life.

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Nicola pregnant with Cece with Steve and Caiden (Collect/PA Real Life)

Nicola, who has been with Steve for nine years after meeting when they worked together at a tool hire company, said: "One of the nurses asked us if we wanted to do some resuscitation training before we went home.

"She said it would take 20 minutes and I thought it would be helpful to know how to do, never for a second thinking I would need to use it on my own child."

Shown how to give rescue breaths and chest compressions, Nicola said they left the training, never imagining it would be used to save their baby’s life just five weeks later.

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Cece started choking on her own mucus, after suffering with a bronchiolitis (Collect/PA Real Life)

But on Friday December 1, 2017 - Nicola's due date - Cece had developed a cold, which became so bad that her parents took her to accident and emergency at Pinderfields Hospital on the Sunday.

Diagnosed with bronchiolitis – when the smallest airways in the lungs become infected – Cece was sent home, but showed no signs of improving.

By the Tuesday night, Nicola and Steve vowed to take her back to the hospital the next day.

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Baby Cece, her mum Nicola still experiences horrifying flashbacks (Collect/PA Real Life)

Then, at 5.55am the following morning, when Nicola went downstairs to get some baby milk and Steve was getting ready for work, she heard a frightening choking sound through the baby monitor - followed by her husband’s screams.

Nicola tearfully recalled: "I ran upstairs and Cece was just lying there, blue and lifeless. She was momentarily dead, really, as she had choked and stopped breathing

"I don't remember thinking about what I was doing. I just remember springing into action and doing what I had learned at the training. I thought to myself, 'She's not going to die, not on my watch!'"

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Baby Cece, her mum Nicola still experiences horrifying flashbacks (Collect/PA Real Life)

With Steve frozen in a panic, and Nicola screaming at him to call an ambulance, she then got to work.

Starting with five back blows between her shoulder blades with the heel of her hand, then Nicola checked her mouth, then using two fingers, she gave her five downward chest thrusts.

Then after that she gave Cece five initial rescue breaths, before starting the sequence of 30 chest compressions and two rescue breaths, and amazingly, after three minutes, Cece let out a scream.

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Doting dad Steve (Collect/PA Real Life)

"It was incredible to hear her scream. The ambulance crew then rushed in and she was taken to hospital," Nicola said.

"I was hysterical, shocked at what had just happened. How close we were to losing our girl."

Once in accident and emergency, medics told Nicola her kiss of life had saved her daughter.

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Cece choked on her own mucus (Collect/PA Real Life)

"They said if I hadn't done what I did, then she wouldn't have made it,” said Nicola. “It was absolutely devastating to hear and even now, almost three months later, I am suffering with flashbacks to that morning and have been diagnosed with PTSD."

Ventilated in the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at Pinderfields Hospital for three nights, Cece was then transferred to the children's ward for six more nights, before being discharged in time for Christmas.

Now Cece is a happy and healthy girl, and her mum is determined to make a difference.

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She said: "Cece is really smiley and a real mummy's girl, but I am really overprotective of her.

"If I can stop one other family from going through this and save one more life, then it would be amazing.

"I'm going to get in touch with my MP and see if I can make a difference nationally."

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Steve and Caiden with Cece (Collect/PA Real Life)

Zoe Chivers, head of services at the premature and sick baby charity Bliss, which has supported Nicola's family, said: "Even basic first aid training can help parents identify if their baby has stopped breathing and what to do before an ambulance arrives.

"A number of neonatal units offer parentcraft classes which include resuscitation training. Bliss would strongly encourage all NHS trusts across the UK to ensure that parents know how to resuscitate their baby if an emergency occurs.

"Nicola's story highlights the very real difference that this training can make."

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Cece’s mum will always be gratefu to Pinderfields Hospital
(Collect/PA Real Life)

Susan Langworth, assistant director of nursing, children's and radiology at the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: "We recommend resuscitation training to all parents of babies on the neonatal unit, but this has to be parental choice."

FACT BOX – How to perform CPR on a baby:

St John Ambulance says if you are on your own, you need to give one minute's worth of CPR before calling for help, making sure to take the baby with you when you do. This involves giving chest compressions and rescue breaths to keep the baby's circulation going.

For further information see

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