Supporting Families, Preventing Tragedies
Supporting Families, Preventing Tragedies
My horror came after a normal birth in 1994 at North Shore Hospital.
I fell pregnant in 1998 in Wanganui. At 20 weeks I became quite ill and at 28 weeks it was discovered my baby had died from intrauterine growth retardation. Ben had been dead for 8 weeks. The midwife failed to pick up that there was no heartbeat on her visit at 24 weeks which meant I carried him for a further 4 weeks, compromising my health. One of the midwives at the birth stated to me that it was the worst birth she had attended in 25 years. She had seen lots of 20 week old baby’s and mine was definitely 20 weeks. The body had deteriorated as it had been left so long, which complicated the labour. I gave birth to Ben naturally; labour was induced which resulted in the head being delivered then the cervix closed around the neck and the rest of the body was delivered some time later. I couldn’t move throughout the labour because of the deterioration of the body. The whole process was unbelievable. I thought I was at my limit mentally throughout. I never saw my baby as the midwife suggested it would be better if I didn’t.
In 1999 I fell pregnant again. At 9 weeks I began to bleed and at 12 weeks I miscarried.
In 2000 I became pregnant again. I chose the midwife that had been involved in the last two pregnancies as I thought she would have an understanding of what I had been through and would provide good care. She had also reassured me that I would be entitled to obstetric care because of my history.
I had scans up to 37 weeks. All was fine with my baby. Then at 38 weeks I had urinary tract infection. I tried to contact the midwife and was unable to. I left messages but she didn’t get back to me. I was very upset, anxious and a bit hormonal too. I lost confidence in the midwife and got another midwife who assured me she would work with the obstetrician, and contact him if I had any concerns, even though I had only seen the obstetrician twice. At 20 weeks he discharged me to the midwife. I wasn’t happy about it but didn’t think I could do anything about it.
At 41 weeks I went to the hospital. The obstetrician saw me on his rounds and suggested he induce labour in the morning if I hadn’t already gone into labour. But the plan changed when during the night the LMC decided she would induce labour to get things going around 1am. I saw her twice in the next 5 hours as she was tired because she had done a delivery not long before I was admitted into hospital, so she spent most of her time sleeping in the nurses room. I didn’t know what to make of this as I thought she would be keeping a close eye on me due to my history and she would need to be there to reassure me and monitor the labour.
In the last half hour she appeared in the delivery room, because my husband went looking for her because he could see I was in a lot of pain, and he didn’t know what to do. As Zara was coming down the birthing canal I felt something was wrong as she just seemed to stop moving. I stated to the midwife, “something is wrong everything has stopped.” She replied “That’s enough of that carry on, just push.” Then a second midwife appeared, whom I had never met. The LMC said, “she is with the hospital,” (turns out she was an independent midwife with her own client in the hospital).
When my baby was delivered she was lifted up onto my chest. I looked down at her and thought “why isn’t she crying, and why does she look so weak with no movements?”, It was so different to my son’s birth; he was crying and thrashing about after delivery. My baby was wrapped and handed to her father. He noted she had stopped breathing and alerted the midwives to this. They didn’t respond so he said again, “My baby isn’t breathing.” The second midwife glanced over but didn’t respond, as she stated she was watching to see how the after birth was proceeding (she stated “I had a client in labour myself and was only there to assist if needed”). He then yelled “My baby isn’t breathing!” and then the second midwife said she felt the apex for a heartbeat, and then she said she would take her for some oxygen.
There was no head of midwifery in the hospital at the time so other midwives assisted. The house surgeon was called and informed Zara needed to be intubated but she decided she didn’t want to intubate even though she was trained to do the procedure. The pediatrician was called 20 minutes after she was born and arrived 10 minutes later to try to stabilize her.
Zara was flown to Wellington hospital and placed on life support. Her condition deteriorated and she died two days later from severe asphyxia combined with a delay in recognizing and treating her.
What were the concerns from the Pediatricians at Wellington hospital?
My first and foremost concern is that my event happened 10 years ago and this is still happening today!!! Could lessons not have been learned back then?
What was the outcome?
The Coroner made a few recommendations. I don’t believe any of them were ever implemented, and the HDC found no fault with any of the midwives or their practices.
What’s happening with me now?
I live in Dunedin and have just recently had a beautiful baby boy. He is a lovely addition to my life, but I still grieve for my lovely daughter, 10 years later. I also am 100 % behind what The Good Fight is trying to do to prevent horrible things like what happened to me and many others from happening to our babies and parents in New Zealand.
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