"Poor postnatal care at Southern General"

About: Queen Mother's Hospital / Maternity care Southern General Hospital / Maternity care

(as the patient),

I had my third baby at SG in January 2012 on a Saturday evening about 7pm just about one hour after arriving at the hospital having been labouring at home since the Friday afternoon. By the time I was finished in labour suite, it was about 9pm and so when I got to the ward my husband was dismissed hurriedly by the ward staff. I had not eaten much while in labour, and was totally starving but there was nothing to except a couple of stale sandwiches and no way of getting anything even basic like a hot drink or some toast.

I had had trouble with pelvic pain throughout my pregnancy and unfortunately the process of having my legs in stirrups for the stitching (a necessary evil I guess) really aggravated this and I was unable to life one leg independently of the other after giving birth. Getting in and out of bed was excruciating, and I was terrified I would drop my new baby everytime I had to get up to feed him. I was happy to breastfeed but really needed help just to get in and out of bed or for someone just to pass my baby to me when he needed to be picked up. I mentioned to more than one member of staff that I was having trouble, but it was just met with vaguely sympathetic indifference like 'oh dear', when someone should really have checked if I was worried about anything or if I needed anything.

The next day was not much better - of all the 5/6 staff who came to see me, only one recognised how much pain I was in when I had to move and kindly lifted my baby to me. The point here is that no matter how many babies you have had, postnatal is a vulnerable time and you don't feel very confident about asking for help directly. It should be enough to comment on being in pain, and staff should have the communication skills to explore your worries with you.

I discharged myself on the Sunday evening - I probably wasn't really ready to have to go home and deal with my in-laws and 2 other pre-school children, but at least at home I knew I could rely on my husband to get my baby for me in the night. And the food was so poor, I felt I needed some home cooking.

Another aspect of postnatal care was that the girl next to me in the ward was having real trouble getting her baby latched on. She had numerous nurses look at what she was doing and tell her she was doing it fine, but that baby perhaps wasn't interested, or was falling asleep. She kept getting different advice including to express and give milk in a bottle when her baby was crying. I am an experienced breastfeeder but have not had any training like the nurses are supposed to have, and I was able to see straight away that she was not getting enough of her breast into the baby's mouth. I made one wee suggestion and for the first time since her baby was born, she managed to get her latched on and suckling properly. If women can't get the right support even in hospital what chance is there when they go home and their nipples are (often) cut etc.

I gave birth twice before in the Queen Mum's and there was much more of a community atmosphere on the ward and you could have toast or tea anytime. I made tea and toast for friends who happened to give birth a couple of days after me when I was still in, and it was a lovely experience. Shame that hasn't translated to the SG. You also automatically got support from specialist breastfeeding nurses who did ward rounds but that seems to have disappeared too.

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Response from Paul Cannon, Head of Administration, Acute Services Division, Greater Glasgow & Clyde NHS

Thank you for taking the time and trouble to provide your feedback.

I am sorry that this posting was not acknowledged at the time, we had a break in our use of Patient Opinion, but we have now resumed doing so, and I thought it was still important to acknowledge your posting.

You raised a number of issues that are of concern and I will ensure that these are shared with the service manager, to take these up with local staff.


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