Judge tells heartbroken mother not to blame herself for suffocating her newborn daughter
Shelby Sands, 19,  the mother of seven-week-old Deleilah Woodford who died after she is believed to have been accidentally smothered while sleeping on her parents’ bed in Stibbard, near Fakenham, Norfolk (Picture: East Anglia News Service)

A judge has told a heartbroken mother not to blame herself for suffocating her newborn daughter. 

Shelby Sands, 19, had been bottle feeding her seven-week old daughter Deleilah Woodford following a night out when she dozed off.

Deleilah who normally slept in a Moses basket was found lifeless and lying face down in her vest and baby gro on top of the bed the following morning.

A nurse who lives next door and paramedics tried to revive her at Miss Sands’ home in Stibbard, Norfolk, but she was pronounced dead.

Please note sent under embargo - no use before 3pm February 19 2017 Mum Sarah Boyle, 26, and her baby son, Teddy, 1, who saved her life after he repeatedly rejected her right boob during breastfeeding causing her to go to the doctors in November 2016, where she was diagnosed with triple negative grade 2 cancer of the breast. See SWNS story SWBREAST; A young mum tells how her baby son saved her life after he repeatedly rejected her right breast during breastfeeding - persuading her to go to the doctor for a check-up. Sarah Boyle, 26, a call centre worker, tells how Teddy, now one, would ëscreamí and ëbecome distressedí when she tried to breastfeed him from her right breast. Worried, she went to her GP in November 2016 and was referred to hospital where she underwent a scan and a biopsy. Two weeks later she was diagnosed with grade 2 triple negative breast cancer. The new mum, who lives with her husband Steven Boyle, 28, a recruitment consultant from Staffordshire, is now receiving chemotherapy and is planning a double mastectomy with immediate reconstruction.Mother says her baby son discovered her cancer by refusing her breastfeeding

But an inquest heard how there were no suspicious circumstance surrounding Deleilah’s death on July 3 last year.

Home Office pathologist Dr Nat Cary who conducted a post mortem gave the cause of her death as ‘unascertained’ but said it was consistent with Deleilah ‘co-sleeping’ with her parents and ‘a degree of smothering and over-laying’.

Dr Cary found no evidence of any natural cause of death or injury to Deleilah other than to her ribs which was caused by the resuscitation attempts on her.

Norfolk Area Coroner Yvonne Blake who read from Dr Cary’s report said: ‘It is well recognised that co-sleeping is a risk factor for unexpected death. The risk you take when sleeping with a baby can be quite high.’

Miss Sands who attended the hearing with her mother Sarah, 47, said: ‘It makes me feel really bad.’

EAST ANGLIA NEWS SERVICE, tel 07767 413379nnSeven-week-old Deleilah Woodford who died after she is believed to have been accidentally smothered while sleeping on her parents' bed in Stibbard, near Fakenham, Norfolk, an inquest in Norwich heard today
Seven-week-old Deleilah Woodford died after she is believed to have been accidentally smothered while sleeping on her parents’ bed in Stibbard, near Fakenham, Norfolk (Picture: East Anglia News Service)

Mrs Blake tried to reassure her, saying: ‘You don’t need to be sorry about anything.’

The coroner recorded a conclusion of accidental death, saying: ‘The most likely explanation is that she was in the bed and got smothered accidentally because she was face down.’

‘If you happen to get a baby in a face down position, they are not strong enough to move. Everyone accepts it is a terrible tragedy, particularly for you. You would not have done it, if you thought it would happen.

Please note sent under embargo - no use before 3pm February 19 2017 Mum Sarah Boyle, 26, and her baby son, Teddy, 1, who saved her life after he repeatedly rejected her right boob during breastfeeding causing her to go to the doctors in November 2016, where she was diagnosed with triple negative grade 2 cancer of the breast. See SWNS story SWBREAST; A young mum tells how her baby son saved her life after he repeatedly rejected her right breast during breastfeeding - persuading her to go to the doctor for a check-up. Sarah Boyle, 26, a call centre worker, tells how Teddy, now one, would ëscreamí and ëbecome distressedí when she tried to breastfeed him from her right breast. Worried, she went to her GP in November 2016 and was referred to hospital where she underwent a scan and a biopsy. Two weeks later she was diagnosed with grade 2 triple negative breast cancer. The new mum, who lives with her husband Steven Boyle, 28, a recruitment consultant from Staffordshire, is now receiving chemotherapy and is planning a double mastectomy with immediate reconstruction.Mother says her baby son discovered her cancer by refusing her breastfeeding

‘All parents have had moments, where if you could go back in time, you would change it. Clearly there was no malice or intention. It was just a terrible tragedy. You are never going to get over it.’

Miss Sands admitted that she had previously breastfed Deleilah and her two-year-old son Deacon in bed when he was a baby, without any problem.

She said she had been feeding and cuddling Deleilah at the bottom of the bed and had ‘no recollection of her changing position in the night.’

The inquest heard how Miss Sands and Deleilah’s father, carpenter Wesley Woodford, had been out to a VW rally in nearby Holt.

Her older sister Abbi Sands, 22, who has a child herself, was babysitting for the couple and stayed over for the night.

Abbi said in a statement that she went to wake up the couple in the morning and saw Deleilah face down at the bottom of the bed.

She went to pick her up and screamed when she found she was pale and not breathing, waking up her sister and Mr Woodford.

Abbi told police that her sister had come home ‘tipsy’, but was not drunk. She described her as ‘a very good mum’.

The inquest heard that Deleilah was not known to Norfolk social services and was not on any at-risk register

Speaking after the hearing, Miss Sands who is seven months pregnant, said: ‘I will never forget Deleilah. She will always be in our hearts.’

She urged other mothers to ‘think again’ before feeding their babies in bed.