"Contrasting birth experiences at John Radcliffe"

About: John Radcliffe Hospital / Maternity

(as the patient),

I have two sons, one born in 2010, the other in 2013. Both at the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford. The first son was born in Delivery Suite at the Women’s Centre, the second at The Spires Midwifery Unit. The two experiences could not be more different.

The first birth was long and slow. I was awake for over 36 hours straight, completely exhausted. I ended up with an epidural, forceps delivery and episiotomy (the stitches subsequently failed and I had several weeks of extreme pain and an open wound) I had two midwives who were both fantastic, caring, kind, understanding, and one who was foul, but luckily went off shift a few hours after we arrived.

When it came to the actual birth, I felt that the Doctors couldn't wait to get cutting (this was in the middle of the night and I had the distinct feeling they just fancied a bit of practice), they pushed and pushed and wanted to get cutting even though my epidural had worn off, the midwife said the baby was fine and not in distress and that we could keep trying for longer if I wanted. These Doctors pressured me and I regret that I didn’t stand up for myself. The midwife stood up for me and even asked one of the Doctors who was so horrible they made me cry, to leave. My son was born by forceps and they left his face badly bruised, one so very close to his eye I was told he was lucky not to loose his sight in that eye.

My second son arrived very quickly and quietly at The Spires, I had one of the Midwives I had with my first son looking after me. She was fantastic. Without Doctors interfering she was able to get on with the job in hand. She was calm, encouraging and ignored pleas for an epidural, for which I am very grateful! She stayed over the end of her shift to be with me to the end. When my son was born the cord was round his neck and he wasn’t breathing. They were cool, calm and collected and dealt with it promptly and efficiently, so much so I wasn’t really aware there had been a problem until later.

My only criticism of that experience was when I called the Delivery Suite to ask about coming in (contractions were very close together) the woman told me to stay at home longer. I persuaded her to let me come in for a look and that I would go away quietly if I was too soon. My son was born an hour and a half after we arrived. I really don't think I was being unreasonable wanting to come in. She made me feel like a whinger and that I was wasting her time. If Id listened to her, I'd have had my son in the car park!

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Response from Deborah Dunn, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust

Thank you for commenting on your experiences at the Women's Centre and the Spires Midwifery Unit.

I was sorry to read that your first labour and delivery at the Delivery Suite in the Women's Centre was difficult and fell short of your expectations. I am pleased, however, to hear that your experience at the Spires was very different.

My name is Deborah Dunn, Complaints and PALS Manager, and should you wish to discuss your experiences further, please do not hesitate to contact me on 01865 223257 Monday to Friday 08.00 to 16.00.

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