Supporting Families, Preventing Tragedies


Near Miss


Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Last year my husband and I had our first child, a gorgeous baby girl called ‘Leyna’ who was born healthy weighing in at 9.1 pds and who is now 15 months old and thriving.

However, on reflection we now realise we were lucky. Lucky and thankful not to be victims due to the negligence of our midwife. My heart goes out to those who have lost due to negligence. It is only when a tragedy happens that a death is counted, but what about all the near misses? This is why I’d like to share my story.

I had a very experienced midwife and also a Specialist. I met with my midwife 3 days prior to my due date. During the appointment my midwife told me my Specialist had decided to go on holiday that week without my knowledge and at the same time informed us that she herself had not slept for 2 nights due to deliveries.

Unfortunately I went into labour that night and our midwife met us at the hospital (her 3rd night without sleep). During my labour my midwife was obviously tired and was often slouching in a chair beside me exhausted and of little help.

During the pushing phase our midwife left the room 4 times for up to as long as 15 minutes. Left alone my husband was forced to coach me through pushes and was fantastic. However when my baby’s head crowned, my husband had to press the emergency button as no-one was there.

Finally our little girl arrived, bruised and swollen but in good shape. I required stitches which I was concerned about, knowing how tired my midwife was. I later discovered that I had been pushing for three hours and as I was not coached correctly on how to push until the last half hour I had damaged all my muscles.

We were left alone in the delivery room after the birth for two hours. Another midwife later passed comment that our midwife was sent home after she was found asleep in a chair (no doubt this was during the 2 hours we were left stranded after the birth).

I could not stand or walk without assistance afterwards and took 3-4 weeks to walk properly and to lift my feet to get dressed. Other midwives in the hospital could not believe I had had a natural birth.

On reflection and with my second baby now on the way, I have many questions with no answers. Why is it that a bus driver is forced to step down after driving for so many hours, yet a midwife can work until she drops? Where was her backup? Where was her professional judgement? Who was monitoring my baby’s heart rate after each push when we were alone? Why were we left alone?

Our midwife tutors other midwives and this concerns me. Being first time parents, we had no idea at the time what correct procedure was, therefore we did not question. Now in preparation for our second birth, I feel under pressure and a little anxious about who I’ll get on the day.

We shouldn’t have to worry in New Zealand about the care we’ll receive but we have no choice. Next time I’ll be more aware, take control and question anything that I feel is not appropriate. Regulations need to be made tighter for all midwives.


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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