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Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Medical misfortune or misadventure ?

I currently have no faith in the midwifery care offered to women in N.Z. during the perinatal stage birthing a baby.

I have had two horrible, traumatic yet preventable experiences, birthing through midwives. The second was life changing. Here’s my account of these experiences.

In 1998 on 15 April I began my labour, and 4 hours into it, my contractions were 10 mins apart, so I rang my midwife. She put on a vulgar amount of make up and eventually got to the hospital when I was 4 minutes apart. I was in need of pain relief and as discussed in my birthing plan, I had requested an epidural. I was given gas, which did not help with the pain at all. After two hours of requesting pain relief, finally in excruciating pain, my cervix was checked and I was 4.5 cm dilated. My midwife said unsympathetically, “Sorry you are too close to 5 cm dilated, at which point you are not able to have an epidural anyway.” With that she walked away and only returned for the delivery, which produced a 9 lb baby. (Hence the need for pain relief.)

My placenta was stuck, so my midwife tugged for about twenty minutes on my umbilical cord and stuck a needle into my thigh, telling me I was being put back into labour to expel the placenta. However, because of her lack of medical knowledge, my still firmly attached placenta began to tear due to the induced labour. Finally my midwife called for an ambulance and I was rushed from Burwood to Christchurch Women’s, where FINALLY I was given an epidural and operated on. I feel that my midwife was financially driven and wanted to remain in control of the delivery, rather than relinquish the responsibility of her misdiagnosis of my complication, over to a Doctor. This same midwife went on to be responsible for the death of a baby several years later in Wellington.

My second child was born at Christchurch women’s after being induced 3 times. I was sent home without being monitored and had a mild labour, which stopped after several hours. Two days later, I was induced again. This time, prostaglandin was used. Because 6 hours of mild labour had elapsed, to speed things up, more prostaglandin was applied.

I had a heavily induced birth and suffered an excruciatingly painful labour, that began with contractions 2.5 minutes apart and lasted nearly 3 hours in duration.

At the onset of my contractions, because my cervix was closed my male midwife, made a decision to go home, even though I pleaded with him not to leave me with no pain relief.

He said he had prescribed pethidine and a sleeping tablet and insisted that I was not in labour. Even though my cervix was closed, I KNEW I was in labour.

I felt immediately insecure and frightened of the increasing pain and was handed over to another’s care at 6pm . I assumed she would assist me with my, by then, unmanageable pain. When I pleaded for pain relief she glared at me as though I was being dramatic and would not acknowledge my pain. She disappeared when I again asked her to check my cervix.

Fifteen minutes later she returned with codeine and paracetamol, which failed to work. I begged her to check my cervix as I had been promised an epidural once my cervix began to dilate, as promised by the anaesthetist. She gave me a disdainful look and responded curtly :”Well I can’t check your cervix unless you lie down and stay still!” I replied “Well, you’ve got about 2 minutes between contractions”. When she checked me, I was 4 cm dilated, 20 minutes after my LMC had elected to go home.

I lodged a formal complaint about the lack of care and professionalism afforded me during my birthing experience at the birthing suite, Christchurch Women’s hospital, on 23-12-08, when I gave birth to Denley.

I was treated unsympathetically, and my midwife returned briefly, before the birth to collect his pay check for his part in the birth. Good one! I was then marched out of hospital with no assistance, or reassurance, some 3 hours after birthing, with my precious bundle, after a hurried shower, at 11.30 pm.

I would hate for any other woman to be treated so disrespectfully and spoken to so rudely, at such a stressful and painful time.

My baby should have been monitored by an CTG and heart monitor during such a heavily induced and aggressive labour.

I can’t help but speculate, that if I had been under the care of an Obstetrician, there would have been less professional negligence and maybe my baby would not have suffered loss of oxygen before the birth, leading to post natal seizures, resulting in brain damage.


Red Flags

        RED FLAGS

  • Lack of monitoring
  • “Normalising” the abnormal
  • Lack of action/delay in getting emergency care
  • Going over due date
  • Failure to progress in labour
  • Meconium-stained liquor (waters)
  • Lengthy handover during emergency
  • Inconsistent reporting and documentation
  • Your concerns being ignored

    Click here to read more about common warning signs


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