But motherly instinct took over the moment the docs handed the tiny baby to Carolyn to say goodbye.
The baby gasped for breath as soon as Carolyn touched her, following which the mother removed Rachael's blanket and placed her on her chest.
Rachael started crying, raising the hopes of Carolyn and hubby David, 35.
Even after an hour docs still feared the worst, but later the experts decided to put her on a ventilator.
But now, Rachel, who is 17 weeks and weighs 6lb, has been allowed to go home.
"After she gasped my mother's instinct kicked in. I took off her blanket and pulled down my clothes to put her on my bare chest. She started to cry and it gave us all a bit of hope," The Sun quoted Carolyn, as saying.
"I think that cuddle at the very beginning helped. The doctors said the skin-to-skin contact probably saved her," she added.
Rachel no longer needs oxygen, but has to undergo regular check-ups.
"We didn't think she'd live because she was so weak, but she was determined. It's unusual for babies to survive at 24 weeks, so I was astonished she improved," Dr Ian Laing, the consultant baby expert who cared for Rachael, said.
"I think the cuddling was very important and I've no doubt that the warmth of her mother's skin was also very important," he added.