"Impressed by care from paramedics and midwives alike"

About: South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust William Harvey Hospital / Maternity

(as the patient),

I elected to have my baby at home but during the third stage of labour it became apparent to my midwife that my baby had shoulder dystocia.

My partner called an ambulance, which arrived in 17 minutes (we live about 15 minutes from the hospital). Fortunately the heart massage and resuscitation my midwife performed enabled my baby to commence breathing on his own but the paramedic team took over from her, so she could get me in shape to get to the hospital.

The paramedic team were fantastic - very kind, very caring and they got us to the hospital as quickly as they could (much later in the day, they came into the labour ward to see how we were doing, which was really lovely of them and showed the interest they take in the people they care for).

When we arrived at the labour ward, we were seen to immediately and the midwife and paediatrician confirmed they were happy the baby was stable and that he had sustained a shoulder injury during the birth and that we would have x-rays shortly to ascertain the level of damage. My family arrived at the hospital shortly afterwards and were all accommodated in our room.

The midwives ran a bath for me, which I hadn't even thought about but was very greatly appreciated and I felt much better afterwards. We were kept hydrated with lots of tea and water and just generally looked after. The care was emotional as well as physical and I was honestly amazed at how caring all of the staff were, including all of the support staff.

Later that night we were transferred to the post-natal ward, where again the midwives were lovely. Because the day had been quite traumatic, my partner and I did not want to be separated. It was arranged for a camp bed to be put in the en suite room the baby and I were in, so he could stay with us (provided he abided by the ground rules they laid down). I cannot tell you the difference it made - separation would have been very emotionally distressing for us both. I cannot even begin to comprehend the economic pressure the Trust is under, not to mention the topical subject of mixed sex wards but I do think the partner being able to stay is a facility that should be offered to certain families in specific circumstances because it really can make such a huge difference.

There are only two minor things I would point out in terms of constructive criticism. The first was that when we arrived the midwife co-ordinator tried to take my baby into another room to assess him. My midwife had to put it quite strongly to the co-ordinator that I would prefer to stay with my baby, which was then accommodated.

The second is that it was decided that my baby required some pain relief but it took nearly an hour for him to receive it (apparently it was the pharmacy that took such a long time but I would have thought something like Calpol could be kept in small quantities on the ward?).

I opted for a home birth because I was concerned about having my autonomy limited in a hospital environment by domineering midwives. As it turned out, I could not have gotten it more wrong. The midwives were all so caring and I received lots of breastfeeding and general baby care advice, my baby had various early screening tests and it was a relief to let the staff look after us.

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