Mother Care

Recent reports and reviews of maternity units and last night’s Panaroma programme have highlighted the failures of maternity units up and down the country.  With a baby boom of one child born every 40 seconds, patient to midwife ratio at 32 to 1, and complications and fatalities increasing, it is even more evident that good quality maternity care is vital and demanded.

This particular subject is very close to my heart as my own birth story nearly ended up as a tragedy totally due to an understaffed unit and appalling midwife care.

I was provided with an agency midwife when delivering my first child. This was a particular difficult pregnancy as I had suffered a condition called Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD) and later a liver function failure called cholestasis.  I had to be induced two weeks early as there was concern for the baby’s survival chances. I was introduced to the midwife who would be delivering my baby and so my hell began.

Without going into the entire emotional story, the short version of it was that I had a midwife who had worked back to back shifts so was tired. She was not familiar with any of the machinery in the room and could not work them. This meant that she was unable to competently monitor my condition and more vitally, the baby’s heart rate during labour. She tried to insert an intra-venous drip several times before calling a senior midwife to help. All of this without my husband being there.

When he arrived at the hospital, he quickly saw that things were not quite right and neither of us had confidence in her. He complained and requested another midwife. This was not taken seriously and we were told not to make things difficult. They were understaffed and could not provide another midwife. Our midwife became quite abusive and would repeatedly shout at me. She trebled the dose of syntocinon which made the labour abnormally painful and told me to just have an epidural, which was against my birth plan, if I couldn’t handle it.

The only time my labour progressed was when she went on her break and a replacement midwife came in. I recall at one point begging her to stay. But she could not. The original midwife came back. After 12 hours of labour, the baby had become extremely distressed and was losing oxygen. It was because of my husband’s fussing that a senior midwife looked in and checked the baby’s heart beat. We were rushed into theatre and our baby was born by caesarean section. Alive.

It was the worst and best day of our lives. We didn’t want anyone else to go through our experience and so made a formal complaint. It took a year to get an apology and for changes to be made into hiring agency midwives by the hospital.

I was extremely lucky to have the support of the head of midwifery at the hospital. She followed my complaint through and ensured that my second birth went smoothly.

My story has a happy ending. Many stories do not. I really do believe that the majority of midwives are great, however, just like with every other section of the care service, they are understaffed and overworked. Proper training and diligence is being disregarded. The health care trusts really need to address this before more and more maternity units get closed down.

Bunty

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3 Comments to “Mother Care”

  1. Goodness,Bunty I had no idea it could turn into such a nightmare. I have only been on the other side welcoming a new baby and mum with flowers not in the delivery room. I hardly ever use the NHS but I hope people who join midwifery do so because they care not just as another job. It should be against regulations for midwives to work double shifts it’s not like a normal job where you can fudge through.

  2. I totally agree with Bunty however its not the health trusts (both acute and PCTs) making the decisions. Unfortunately we have a health secretary who simply doesnt listen to the public or health care professional’s concerns. Raja Singh

  3. Bubbly, it doesn’t have to be as my second birth showed. We had an amazing midwife who made me laugh so much. My baby was born in two hours.
    Thanks Raja Singh for highlighting who makes the decisions.

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