Supporting Families, Preventing Tragedies




Thursday, 1 January 2009

Have you ever played on the train tracks only to be narrowly missed by a locomotive as it goes past? That is how I felt after the birth of my second son Jack. That train was so close I could breathe on it, any closer I would be sucked under it.

This was my second pregnancy we were happy how our first assisted delivery went (with a 9lb boy) so decided to use the same midwife. This pregnancy was relatively uneventful until the third trimester when I experienced significant breathing problems.

I had never had asthma before but now I was using an inhaler regularly. This baby seemed also to surpass his brother for size and I was getting worried as I am small framed and short (162cms).

After going 8 days overdue with a false labour on day 5 I had an induction appointment with a Registrar at CHC Womens hospital I asked him about the possibility of a cesarean as this baby was about 10lb and after an assisted delivery with a 9lb baby I was getting anxious. But because I didn’t have diabetes there was no way I was getting a cesarean. It didn’t seem to matter my asthma was getting worse and I was also refused a late scan to check the baby’s size as they were ‘unreliable’.

The midwives view was that I would be induced into labor and that if intervention was deemed necessary then it would happen. The large size of the baby or my “asthma” seemed to be irrelevant.

Well these people deliver hundreds of large babies I thought, they must know more than me.

I tried to stop worrying and awaited my induction date on day 10.

The induction gel didn’t work, there was meconium when my waters were broken, labour was slow and steady. Until it was time to push when I couldn’t breathe properly to push the baby out. Poor Jack was faring worse than me with his heart rate accelerating and decelerating. I couldn’t push the baby out.

The specialist was busy. Luckily my husband noticed things were not right and encouraged the midwife to go and get him again. When he arrived things moved fast very fast. Jack was born, emergency forceps delivery, he was limp and quiet when he came out weighing 10lb and measuring 59cms. This birth was fast turning into a nightmare and the feeling of euphoria I’d experienced with my firstborn was nowhere in sight.

Jack started to breathe and was whisked away to NICU. My husband went with him.

The feeling of panic was beginning to set in, I asked the midwife to get the chaplain (as I am a Christian) but was told the chaplain had gone home for the night. It was 815pm.

Jack was diagnosed with meconium on the lungs a pnemothorax and (4 days later) a fractured left clavicle. The fractured clavicle was only diagnosed because I mentioned to several hospital staff that he screamed if I fed him on the one side. They looked at the original xrays and noticed the fracture 4 days after his birth. They were too busy looking at his lungs on the x ray to notice the fractured clavicle (collarbone) they said.

My asthma (if it was asthma) stopped the day after I had Jack and has never returned, I am still recovering from birth injuries myself (3 years on).

My poor baby but luckily he is alive and now doing well, we love him so much and are thankful he is ok.

Complaining to HDC and ACC was also futile as LMC and hospital staff (and management) all hide behind these so called procedures ands protocols. Some of these need to be changed immediately as they are endangering the lives of our precious children.

i.e Why should a small framed woman have to go 10 days overdue with a 10 pound baby? Why can’t she be given the option of a cesarean or be induced earlier? When things go horribly wrong why doesn’t ACC fund counselling for traumatic births? Why aren’t birth injuries for mother and baby covered by ACC?

Please don’t believe that because it is your second delivery it will be easier, get a third or fourth opinion if necessary. Listen to you mothers or mothers in law!

Don’t feel intimidated by your midwife, a Cesarean is not a dirty word and is sometimes necessary to deliver our babies safely.


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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