This is to try to help us all to make positive changes following a negative birth experience.
My pregnancy ended with a precipitate labour (super speedy) and 4th degree tear, both of which I believe could have been prevented or at least the trauma minimised with better care.
I have had 2 babies, both of which were induced due to pregnancy induced hypertension with odema and slight signs of protein in urine. The first of my induced labour experiences, was a 10 hour controlled labour and successful vaginal delivery of a healthy 8lb 6oz baby. The second, my baby was measuring over 9lb at 38 weeks and it was decided that I be induced at 40 weeks in an attempt to control my blood pressure.
So I was admitted to the antenatal ward on Feb 14th and given Propess. I was encouraged when I showed signs of pain and tightenings almost immediately after it was administered. After a couple of hours I was not able to walk the full length of the hospital corridor without having 3 or 4 contractions which were strong enough to stop me in my tracks. The first midwife I had unfortunately finished her shift at this point but advised me to inform my new midwife if things were progressing and that she could examine me.
So upon meeting my second midwife (still in the antenatal ward at this point), I informed her that my contractions were significantly painful, a minute long and two minutes apart. I asked for pain relief. (This was about 3 hours into the induction.) My impression of her response was that she was dismissive and she did not seem phased by what I told her. I thought the fact my contractions were so close together was significant but she clearly did not as she did not offer to examine me but gave me paracetamol and codeine.
I continued with my contractions getting stronger and closer together to the point where there was no rest in between and I was "climbing the walls". I was examined at 6pm and told I was 3cm dilated and that I could be transferred to the labour ward. I asked for diamorphine at this point and was not told either way whether I was getting any, I was also not offered any other type of pain relief like gas & air despite showing huge discomfort. This left me feeling very frustrated and confused why no one was doing anything to ease my pain?
During the examination my cervix was also 'pulled forward' and the propess removed in the hope things may slow down a touch. It seemed to do the opposite and the time between doing that and delivery was 1 hour 10 minutes.
I was waiting to be moved to the labour ward but seemed to be in a queue with another woman. The midwife came from the labour ward to collect the other woman but upon seeing me decided I was more urgent. They tried to get me to move beds but I was paralysed with pain at this point. It sounded like no one could decide whether to move me or not. It sounded like no one was communicating. No one tried to encourage me, or tell me I was ok. I felt like I was going through all this pain alone and no one was helping me. Why did no one take charge of the situation? In the end I just shouted at them to take me to the labour ward because I didn't want to give birth with 3 other women and their husbands in earshot. I remember worrying about how it all sounded to them and if anything was visible when I should have been concentrating on my labour. It was frantic and chaotic and I found it incredibly difficult to remain calm.
I was wheeled down the corridor screaming that I could feel the head coming and then every one started running. The midwife said 'no you can't' but I knew I was feeling the same way as I had with my first baby. All I had in my head was, how could I be ready to give birth as I had been only 3cms not long ago!!!
I entered the labour ward around 6:55 and my baby was delivered around 7:03. The delivery, still without any pain relief, made me feel scared that I was going to die, (no exaggeration), feeling like I could pass out from the pain at any point, like there was no way I could survive this experience and still no one was giving me any verbal reassurance that everything was going to be ok. My husband couldn't even get close to me because of the mad dash down the hall, leaving him dragging bags and coats along behind him. This was most certainly NOT what either of us had wanted. Why wasn't I transferred to the labour ward sooner??
After my baby was delivered, I was told I had endured a tear and would have to go to theatre to have it repaired. I was so completely mentally numb and in shock from the birth that this did not really sink in until after the surgery when I realised it had taken two hours to repair me.
I don't understand HOW I was able to tear so terribly when my labour was INDUCED!! Surely it was supposed to be in someone's control? If I had laboured naturally and my body had complete control of the process then I could understand that a tear couldn't be avoided to some extent but this was 'man made' and as such surely someone should have been able to slow things down since they had been able to speed things up.
It seemed as though there was a 'one size fits all' kind of plan and the midwife was following it so rigidly that it allowed no room for common sense when I was quicker than the plan allowed. The plan I was given focused on what happens if the labour goes on a long time, but it did not account for someone like me who was faster! Why was I not examined sooner? I believe I was left vulnerable to such a miserable labour.
I have been told that propess is 'unpredictable' and in which case why was I not monitored more closely? I was only checked on twice and one of those times was because I called for help. I felt as though they set a bomb on me and I was left for it to explode!
Following on to post natal care, in the operating theatre all I was thinking about was how the first few hours of my babies life I was missing, leaving her with my husband with no way of feeding her. All the pre natal advice about 'skin to skin' being so vital for bonding was going through my mind and I felt like I was already failing my daughter. It was distressing and actually in my opinion feel the advice given about skin to skin contact is completely unnecessary because a lot of women are unable to do this if they have c sections and such...why put this extra pressure on women?
Four days post partum I suffered a panic attack and high blood pressure saw me re admitted to the post natal ward. It was then that I realised that I needed to have some sort of counselling and nip this in the bud. I spoke to my community Midwife and she put me In touch with a fantastic counsellor who helped me to see why I was so upset.
I had been robbed, my positive experience had been taken from me and left me feeling raw and uncared for when I should have been feeling the polar opposite. Exploring my feelings and pushing forward with a complaint to the hospital allowed me to get ‘an audience’ with senior members of the maternity unit and get some answers and to some extent some closure. It was enough to hear them apologise and I have since been involved with them in taking forward some improvement initiatives at the hospital. Had my experience recorded for training purposes, spoken at a trainee Midwife event and at an NHS Improvement event, and on the whole these have been very healing experiences.
I want to continue to help make birth better and have committed to being part of a Maternity Voices Partnership with the hospital and look forward to seeing where this can take us.
A year on and my relationship with my daughter is very strong, despite the shocking start to her little life, we made it! And I feel very proud of us for that.