Health & Fitness

We’re heartbroken after the death of our little boy – now we’re fighting for change

A HEARTBROKEN couple said they didn’t know what to do when their baby boy suddenly stopped breathing at just seven days old. 

Little Rowan was at home with his parents when their worst nightmare came to be. 

Rachel Pepper and her husband Christian, pictured with their son Rowan, are campaigning for parents to be taught basic CPR
Rowan was born on October 11 2022, and was ‘sassy, content and perfect’
Rachel Pepper

Rachel, 35, and Christian Pepper, 37, from Shelton Lock, said they had been shown a video on how not to shake a baby when their son was born on October 11 last year. 

“But nothing on how to resuscitate a baby,” Christian, a warehouse operative, remembered. 

Now the couple is campaigning for all UK hospitals to give parents CPR training, or provide vital information on what to do in emergency situations as part of the discharge process.

They’ve called it the “Rowan’s Rule” campaign. 

Rachel – a site coordinator – told The Sun: “I don’t see why this doesn’t already exist.” 

She described the week after Rowan was born as ‘a wonderful dream and everything we could have hoped for’.

There were ‘no warning signs whatsoever’ of what was to come and everything had felt normal, she added. 

Just after 9pm on October 18, baby Rowan was in his mum’s arms being fed. 

“He went pale and floppy all of a sudden,” Rachel said.

“I was hysterical. I ran outside and screamed for help.” 

She recalled the ‘traumatic’ few minutes in which the couple called an ambulance and friends frantically looked up how to perform CPR on Rowan on the internet.

Three or four ambulances arrived and baby Rowan was taken to Nottingham’s Queen Medical Centre. 

He passed away a week later on October 25 – the cause was Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

In most cases, SIDS – also known as “cot death” – strikes when parents and their baby are asleep.

It was incredibly rare that Rachel and Christian were awake when Rowan stopped breathing, they said.

The NHS states that around 200 babies die suddenly and unexpectedly in the UK every year. 

Methods to perform CPR on a baby are different to an adult or older child, the couple noted.

And they want parents to know what to do if their baby stops breathing. They hope the Rowan’s Rule campaign will help save babies‘ lives in the future. 

Christian said: “We know sudden baby deaths happen, we are not going to stop it – we know that.

“But if CPR training could help save one or two babies each year, then that would be amazing.”

To get the campaign going, Rachel and Christian turned to two local councillors, Phillip and Celia Ingal. 

At the council meeting in January, the councillors called on Derby City Council to write to the University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust and the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Steve Barclay calling to introduce CPR training for babies at all hospitals. 

Rachel and Christian said the motion had been passed unanimously and that the council was now in the process of writing the letter to Barclay. 


University Hospitals of Derby and the NHS Staffordshire Trust are looking to implement Rowan’s Rule this year, the couple told The Sun. 

They are now taking each day as they can, Rachel said.

“We’re trying to make Rowan proud.”

Rowan was at home with his parents for four days in total, Rachel said. In those days, he was ‘sassy, content and perfect’. 

The support from everyone around them since October has been ‘overwhelming’, she added.

Aside from campaigning to get Rowan’s Rule instituted in hospitals, the couple have also been fundraising for health charities and Nottingham’s Queen Medical Centre – where Rowan was admitted. 

Rachel’s advice to parents was: “Hold on tight to them.”

“Don’t not do something because you think it might not happen to you,” Christian added.

He told The Sun: “Watching a video about giving a baby CPR might be scary, but a baby dying is scarier.” 

The parents hope Rowan’s Rule will help save babies in the future
Rachel Pepper

How to do CPR on a baby

CPR stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Knowing how to do CPR can give your baby the best chance of survival.

First you need to perform the primary survey, this means checking for danger first, seeing if the baby is responsive, checking they are breathing and that their airway is open and clear. You then also need to check for signs of severe bleeding.

If you have found that the baby is unresponsive, you need to ask a helper to call 999 or 112 for emergency help while you start CPR.

If you’re on your own, you need to give one minute of CPR before calling on a speakerphone.

Do not leave the baby to make the call.

Once you have done this, you need to place the baby on a firm surface and open their airway.

To do this, the experts said you need to place one hand on their forehead and very gently tilt their head back. With your other hand, use your fingertip and gently lift the chin.

Next give initial puffs. Take a breath and put your mouth around the baby’s mouth and nose to make a seal, and blow gently and steadily for up to one second. The chest should rise. Remove your mouth and watch the chest fall. That’s one rescue breath, or puff.

You need to do this five times and if their chest does not rise, perform compression only CPR.

The expert said it is vital you perform rescue breaths as cardiac arrest in a baby is likely caused by a respiratory problem.

You will then need to give 30 pumps.

To do this put two fingers in the centre of the baby’s chest and push down a third of the depth of the chest. Release the pressure allowing the chest to come back up.

Repeat this 30 times at a rate of 100 to 120 pumps per minute.

Then after 30 pumps open the airway and give two puffs. Keep alternating 30 pumps with two puffs (30:2) until:

  • emergency help arrives and takes over
  • the baby starts showing signs of life and starts to breathe normally.

If the baby shows signs of becoming responsive, such as, coughing, opening their eyes, making a noise, or starts to breathe normally, put them in the recovery position.

Monitor their level of response and prepare to give CPR again if necessary.

Source: St John Ambulance

Source of data and images: thesun

Related Articles

Back to top button