"Care of my wife during the birth of my first child"

About: Manor Hospital / Maternity

(as a relative),

I would like to place on record my appreciation and thanks for the care and attention shown to my wife, my newborn baby son and myself during her time under the maternity unit of Walsall Manor Hospital. Her care has been first class, from the first scan through to her discharge from the unit.

As first time parents to be, you naturally have lots of questions, and neither I or my wife were ever made to feel silly about asking them. As her pregnancy was classified as 'high risk', this meant that my wife had several scans, as well as fairly regular visits to consultants clinics. I was delighted about this, as it meant that both my wife and the baby were being checked regularly, and I tried to be present at as many of the ante-natal appointments as possible. All of the staff at these, from the sonographers to the nurses were great. I would particularly like to mention the sonographer Santosh, who scanned my wife twice and was very reassuring, giving us lots of useful information.

The main experience then came in early February 2013, and after my wife was experiencing reduced movements on the Friday, we visited the Maternity Triage, where my wife was monitored for around an hour. The doctor wasn't concerned by the results, but wasn't thrilled either, so we were asked to return the next morning.

As this was the second time at Triage for us with reduced movements, the doctors decided to go ahead and book us in for induction of the baby on the Sunday, since the pregnancy was also 4 days over full term. We duly returned on the Saturday, and my wife was then monitored again, and the readings were still a little inconclusive, so we returned that afternoon. It was at that point, after a time being further monitored, that the staff decided to admit my wife, and begin the induction process that evening, rather than waiting for the Sunday.

I went home on the evening, and had a message from my wife telling me her waters had broken of their own accord in the early hours of Sunday morning. When I arrived in the morning, she was then put back on the monitor, but it was clear that the midwives weren't too happy with how things were progressing.

My wife was then moved quickly to a private delivery suite, and Jo, her main midwife then took over full care of my wife. Jo was absolutely amazing all day, and barely left her side. There were fairly regular visits from the midwife team leaders, who popped in from time to time to check on progress. Myself and my wife's mother were also given tea and coffee, which I tried to offer money for, but they wouldn't let me pay!

The baby's heartbeat was still causing some concern, and the monitor said that the beats were quite high. Eventually, this evened out a bit, and the baby became more settled, so Jo decided to start the drip to bring on contractions. She was also able to help with a different way of monitoring the baby, attaching a monitor to the top of his head which meant that she no longer had to wear the belt monitor. This was useful to assist with the pains of contractions.

My wife was experiencing a lot of discomfort, so Jo was able to advise us of the options for pain relief, and after trying the gas and air, my wife opted for the epidural. The anaesthetist on call, Mr Qasi was promptly along once my wife had decided to go for this, and was extremely efficient in administering the procedure. The epidural was very helpful, and began to ease the pains of contractions.

A short time later, the monitor was showing that the baby's heart rate was dipping, and this was prompting some concerns over the amount of oxygen he was getting in the womb. The doctor (Dr Morse) decided to test the baby's levels by taking a small amount of blood from the top of his head - despite this test being quite uncomfortable, it was carried out quickly and carefully.

The test results had come back borderline, and the doctors then realised that the baby was showing some small signs of fetal distress.

A very rapid decision was then made to take my wife straight to the operating theatre for an emergency Caesarean Section. This was of course very scary for me, however after we had attended an ante-natal class a few months previously, I knew what the procedure involved.

Within seconds, there were staff swarming into the room, ensuring she was prepared for the operation. I was so impressed with the cool manner with which they went about their work, and it was clearly a well drilled set of plans, executed with superb timing. There was no longer than a 10 minute gap between us being told about the section, and my wife being wheeled away. This was naturally a very upsetting and worrying time for me, but a member of staff asked me if I was going to come in, (I said yes without hesitation!) showed me to a room and asked me to get changed into some scrubs.

It was at this point that I had my single only thing which I thought could have been handled slightly better.

Once my wife had been taken to theatre, her mother and I then had to move her bags from the delivery suite to the recovery room, where she would be brought straight after the operation. Her mother was her second birthing partner, alongside me, and was told to sit in recovery with me whilst I waited to be shown in. Just before I went in, she was unceremoniously asked to leave in case she spread infection. I can understand this, and neither of us would have wanted my wife to contract anything, however her mother was beside herself with worry for both her daughter and the baby, and maybe a small room where she could have sat outside of the recovery room would have been a better place to have asked her to go. In the event, her mother ended up outside the unit, and since I was in theatre, she had no way of knowing what was happening. This is the only thing which I would suggest could be improved, in situations where there is more than one birthing partner.

I was eventually shown into the operating theatre, and this was cleverly done so that I was unable to see behind the sheet that had been put in front of my wife's chest. I was allowed to sit with her, and the same anaesthetist, Mr Qasi who had done the epidural, was also with us. The doctors then worked fairly quietly, as I tried my best to keep my very anxious wife calm (and myself!). All of a sudden, Mr Qasi said "moment of truth" and then about 3 seconds later, our beautiful baby boy was lifted up and shown to us over the top of the sheet. He was taken over to the far side, and then we heard him cry for the first time, which was a very special moment. Jo was then able to hand my son over to me and I held him for the first time.

She was transferred firstly to recovery, where she was given toast and a cup of tea, and kindly a little blue bobble hat for the baby that looked as if it was hand knitted. Jo then finished her shift, so we thanked her gratefully for everything. She was a marvellous comfort to us all, keeping us informed at all stages of the labour. I wish to place on record my personal thanks to her for keeping both my wife and baby safe and me calm throughout that traumatic day.

We were then transferred to the Foxglove ward at the hospital, and her post-natal care commenced, under the excellent supervision of the staff on the ward. All of the midwives who we saw were amazing, and all of the advice and support I was given as a new dad was fabulous.

It was also the small touches: helping me make up the first feed bottle; letting me stay longer over the regular visiting hours because my wife was the only person in the 4 bed room on the first night of him being born; moving her into a lovely private room with her own TV; finding me a fold out bed and letting me stay overnight in the room on the second night; checking on us regularly and making sure we were all okay.

It was all amazing, and we met so many staff, it is hard to thank them all without forgetting someone - so I will simply say that the staff on Foxglove that we met were all simply wonderful. Thank you all.

The other people I wanted to mention were the student midwives, who were always around during the days and nights we spent. As a teacher of many years, I am also a mentor of student teachers, and I know the time and effort that it takes to mentor someone and help them to become the kind of professional that you wish them to be. The mentoring and training that was evident throughout the time I was there was fabulous, and the students all seemed very clued up and knowledgeable, a clear sign of a good mentor.

I feel that teaching and hospital training programmes could have a lot to offer one another - we all mentor students towards a career in the public services, and despite the two jobs being incredibly different, there seem to be a number of ways in which the mentoring process is very similar.

I would recommend the care that we were given at Walsall Manor Hospital to anyone, and if you are having your child there any time soon, you will meet a fabulous and dedicated team of staff - you have given my family a great start to our new life. Thank you!

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Response from Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust

Congratulations on the birth of your first child. We are very grateful that you have taken the time to tell us about your experience. We will ensure that your comments are passed on to staff on our Foxglove ward.

As you can understand, reducing the risk of infection is of paramount importance, if you would like to discuss this aspect of your experience further, please contact our Patient Relations department.

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