"Mixed experiences in North Staffs maternity"

About: Royal Stoke University Hospital / Maternity care

(as the patient),

I gave birth on the Midwife Birth Centre 4 weeks ago. I initially went in when my contractions had been going strong for almost 24 hours and they were starting to become very painful. Unfortunately the midwife on duty didn't believe I was in labour and kept on telling me I was in early labour and sent me home. (This was without actually checking me and without listening to what I was saying about the pain, intensity and timings of the contractions and how they had changed over the last 24 hours). I literally left in tears saying to my husband that I couldn't cope if this was only early labour. I was very disheartened.

The pain continued to worsen and 4 hours later I realised I know my body and this most definitely was not early labour, and so we called back and spoke to the same midwife who insisted it was early labour still and advised me to take paracetamol. I couldn't speak to her because of the intensity of the contractions and, despite her being able to hear my very loud groans in the background, she still insisted on early labour. My husband insisted that we were coming back at this point.

As soon as we walked through the doors, she greeted us and told me not be disappointed if I got sent home as early labour could last for days. I was literally in tears and in so much pain. I'd already decided I didn't care what she said and wasn't leaving the hospital. We then were put into a room where we waited for what seemed like an eternity for someone to come in. Thankfully it was the changeover in the shifts and we had a new midwife - Gill, and a student Lou.

Unfortunately the original midwife came in to tell us she was leaving but that I would probably be sent home- it felt she did more to bring me down than any other point in the entire labour. The new midwives did their checks and I immediately felt reassured when Gill picked up on how frequent the contractions were coming and how much pain I was in.

After a check, she said the magic words "you are most definitely in labour" and was estimated at 6cm dilated, possibly more. Things then moved very fast. I finally got some pain relief and 4 hours later after a lovely water birth I had my beautiful baby girl. Gill & Lou were amazing and got me through every step of the way.

I was transferred to ward 205 the next day due to high blood pressure- the staff were absolutely amazing on both this ward and MBC. I had the support to breastfeed, and as a result 4 weeks later baby is still breastfeeding well.

I really can't speak highly enough of all the staff- from the midwives to the cleaners. They are fantastic and I had a 5 star service. Even the food was nice. The only downside was the first midwife. I think she just thought I was being an overreacting first time mum and my advice to any first time mums is to be assertive - you know your body better than anyone. If it feels like labour and someone is saying its early labour, ask for an internal.

Aside from this slight glitch, we had a very positive experience and look forward to the next time we're at the centre (although it won't be for a couple of years yet! ! ).

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Response from University Hospitals of North Midlands

Dear ‘taragravy’

Thank you for taking the time to describe your experiences of the Maternity Centre at University Hospital.

Giving birth is an exciting but sometimes stressful time so I’m delighted to hear that you felt our service was ‘five star’.

I am always keen to learn more about how we can improve the service we provide to expectant and new mums so I would love to hear more from you.

If you would like to discuss your experience further, I can be reached on email at karen.meadowcroft@uhns.nhs.uk

Kind regards,

Karen Meadowcroft, Head of Midwifery

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