"Emotionally scarred after my son's birth at Queens Hospital"

About: Queen's Hospital / Maternity care

(as the patient),

At the end of December 2010 my contractions started. I did not contact the hospital as I knew the contractions needed to be 3-5 minutes apart and I needed to be at least 4cm dilated or I would be sent home again.

They settled down until the next evening and by the early hours of the day after they were 3 minutes apart so I rang the Triage Ward at Queens Hospital.

I was asked where the pain was and I said 'down low, very painful and the pains were 3 minutes apart' as I'd been sat in my kitchen timing them!

The Triage Nurse replied that that's just normal pregnancy cramps and to call back when the real pains started up high. I told her that they had started up high the day before and I knew the labour had started properly but she insisted that I stay at home and wait for it to start properly. My sister and I decided against that advice and made our way to Queens Hospital.

I arrived there at 2:30am and after being examined I was 4cm dilated and the labour had started. I had quite a sick labour and was on Gas & Air to begin with, but had stated in my birth plan that if I wasn't coping with the Gas & Air alone I would like an epidural.

I was waiting in the triage ward for 2-3 hours for a bed on the labour ward to become available, when I did eventually get a bed I was made to get up and walk to the room where I was to give birth – whilst vomiting.

I was then greeted by the midwife who would be delivering me. Her attitude right from the beginning was utterly appalling. She did not speak to me at all for the first 20 minutes or so, just groaned when I was asking her questions.

My sister who was my birthing partner asked if my robe could be changed as I had been very sick on it and it smelt disgusting – the midwife refused and told her to leave it.

Once the labour was in full swing I was in pain and still using the Gas and Air. The Midwife told me not to use the Gas & Air when I wasn't in pain as it was a waste. I started to feel that I wanted to push but she kept telling me I wasn't ready. I asked her to examine me and see how dilated I was - she refused as due to Health and Safety, and said I could only be examined every 4 hours.

I was starting to lose my temper and said I couldn't resist the urge to push and please, please could she examine me, so she did and said I was 10cm dilated and so ready to start pushing at which point she took the Gas & Air off me and I now had no pain relief. I was trying to keep hold of the gas & air and she physically ripped it from my hand and said No.

Within half an hour of no pain relief I was really struggling and asked for the epidural. I was refused this as there may not be enough time and the anaesthetist would be at least half an hour as he was too busy. I had a drip put in my hand should the anaesthetist become available. This was not kept an eye on and during the birth was twisted round in my wrist and made my wrist balloon and eventually go black.

Whilst pushing and trying to give birth, the midwife stood leaning against the wall about a foot away from me with her arms crossed telling me to “close your mouth, I don't want to hear that noise” and “hurry up, my shift is finished in 45 minutes and I'm tired and want to go home”.

She was not in the slightest bit encouraging and told me to just push like I was going to the toilet and just kept repeating the word “toilet”.

My waters were not breaking so I had to ask her over and over again to break them for me. When she did the waters were a very green colour – my baby had done a poo in my waters as he was distressed and decided she was going to perform an episiotomy as the baby kept slipping back up. My sister was at the end of my bed at this point and asked the midwife why she was struggling when making the incision. The Midwife replied saying “Jesus Christ, these scissors are blunt” from what I can gather she should have gone and got a completely new surgical pack but instead she continued hacking away and 30 mins later my son was born.

The paediatrician came in and said he was 'grunting' as he was slightly distressed and needed to be brought up to the correct temperature so was put under the heater.

The midwife had already left her shift and gone home, leaving my cut open and bleeding heavily. My partner at this point went to find someone to come and stitch up the incision and demanded to know why she had made such a mess of it. Eventually someone came in to do the stitches and explained to us that the midwife had used blunt scissors and she would now have to stitch up the incision but also do some cosmetic stitching as she had torn me in 5 places. Whilst trying to stitch me up it ripped open again as it couldn't hold so some of it had to be left in the hope it would heal on its own.

After giving birth I had to wait nearly all day for a bed on the Post-Natal ward. I was then kept in for 3 days completely unnecessarily. I began to feel very stressed, I found the attitudes of some of the midwives on the post-natal ward absolutely disgusting. Some of them didn't even speak when coming in your room, or just grunted at you when you spoke to them.

My episiotomy was quite sore by the 2nd day and I was taking the 2 paracetamol when they were brought round and offered but by the evening of the 2nd day there, I was refused them when they were brought round as I should be careful how many I take. I hadn't even had the six in 24 hours and was in pain.

By the 3rd day I was in tears. Someone came round to check my pulse and blood pressure – my pulse was very high, no-one would let me go home or even come and explain anything to me. The last day I was there I had no breakfast offered, had to go and find something to eat.

The midwife that discharged me was so rude to me, I think I can honestly say I have never been spoken to in such a rude manner as I was that day, made even worse still by the fact that I was feeling so vulnerable and needed reassurance. My partner was finally allowed to come and pick me up that evening.

My partner can verify, I broke down in tears when I got home. In the following fortnight I had to have two courses of antibiotics as I had an infection in the incision and could not sit down properly for 2 weeks nor bend over or bath properly, going to the toilet was like urinating on an open wound which was so painful.

Some of the outside skin that had to be left un-stitched has now healed over the stitches (that I was told would dissolve but they haven't) and I am still having pains and twinges when I am sitting down for too long or walking long distances.

From a personal point of view I can only describe the feelings over those 3 days as like being on trial and locked up in the meantime. I should have been able to enjoy my baby but I felt I was being scrutinised the whole time. I do feel emotionally scarred by the whole experience. Giving birth is a very daunting experience at the best of times, especially being my first baby, I pushed so hard to sort out housing because I wanted the best for my baby and I knew I needed to be organised for when he arrived and did not want to even temporarily be in a hostel.

None of this was helped by the fact I have no mum around to support me at all, and having to deal with it all alone is what I find most difficult. I will also be honest and admit that I am also now almost too scared to seek any help like counselling or speak to any Health Visitors about any problems I may have as I just feel I would almost be being judged and made to feel inadequate as a parent which I know 100% is not the case.

I am suffering now in silence, cried over the experience a few times and will not feel better about any of it overnight. I would like this looked into, and am planning on aiming for compensation for the way I was treated and how I've been left feeling – especially now I feel like I'm alone and like I cannot trust healthcare professionals.

I cannot name any of the midwives, despite ringing and asking for that information I have been refused more than once, and told if I want to see my notes I will be charged. I am certainly not paying for that information.

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