The best and worst of days
A tale of traumatic birth
, Aug 24 2011 06:32 PM
60 replies to this topic
Posted 27 August 2011 - 06:56 PM
That is absolutly appauling! There are always bad healthcare professionals (I have worked with some in my 17 yr stint) but to have that sort of prevailing attitude.....
I disagree that your first hospital was out there progressive....its what every hospital should be as standard, and I am relieved to admit that the three I have bithed at were.
Congratulations on the birth of your sons. I hope you can find some answers soon.
Posted 28 August 2011 - 06:13 PM
Congrats again on the birth of your boys!
I'm so sorry to hear that your baby's births were far from the experience you had hoped for. I can't begin to imagine how you're feeling, even now that some time has passed. I know nothing can give you those precious moments and memories that you hoped for, but I hope somehow you find some sort of closure in what has happened in time.
And please don't feel like all you ever do is complain in this blog, you've had a horribly traumatic experience, you deserve to be able to voice this experience and seek support. EB is always a wonderful place for that.
Posted 29 August 2011 - 04:18 PM
That's horrible. Just truly horrible.
What hospital is this? Isn't there something that can be DONE about that sort of treatment??? I just hate the thought that numerous mums are being treated that way...
Posted 29 August 2011 - 07:00 PM
I too have experienced such trauma from hospital staff where you are not treated with any form of respect. I was bullied, emotionally manipulated, coerced, talked down to, talked over, etc. The behaviour of those hospital staff gave me PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). It is not PND, yet so often it is diagnosed as such but PND medications and treatment don't work for PTSD.
What helped me once I acknowledged that I needed help was finding one person who I could really open up and talk to, whenever I needed to talk not book an appointment and talk later sort of thing. That was mum but now that I'm pregnant again I am using my doula (she also volunteers for PANDA so I know she gets it). I found psychologists (went to 2) are only half listening because they are also working out what they need to do to 'fix' you. You don't need 'fixing', you need support to help you heal. For me it is talking when I am down as that is the only way to bring me up, but if I'm up, then talking about it will bring me down.
Sometimes stepping away from it all helps. And sometimes acknowledging the feelings (including all the negative ones) helps to take away the power those feelings have over you.
And I really recommend getting your hospital notes and talking to an IM to help you understand the documents and help understand what was done and the hospital's reasons.
As to making a complaint, I am in two minds about how effective this is. It is something people tell me to do but I know that it will be quite painful to do and I am loathe to do this if the complaint is going to go nowhere. Even if something is done with your complaint there is no guarantee the effort required will bring about any kind of healing.
Best of luck with your healing Prue, I know how hard it is when people only see the healthy babies.
Posted 29 August 2011 - 07:46 PM
Thank you for sharing your story, I'm horrified that any woman has to go through such an experience.
I hope you get some answers soon.
Posted 30 August 2011 - 01:57 PM
its hard to get over a traumatic birth if you are expected to 'get on with it' - i had not very helpful nurses trying to 'help' me to breastfeed and feeling helpless
Posted 30 August 2011 - 03:42 PM
I'm sorry you went through that. You can request your file from the hospital at a fee. This should have the reason that they did the c-section in it. Can you make a private appointment with the Obstetrician who delivered your babies? It's important to work through what happened and why. I had a stillborn baby due to a fatal chromosomal problem and I collected all the medical records, sometimes I pour over them to try to understand what happened, I guess it has helped to an extent.
I wish you the best of luck with your boys.
Posted 30 August 2011 - 04:21 PM
I too am shocked that this sort of experience still exists in this country.
My daughter was born last year in an American hospital, an emergency c-section after I'd hoped for a natural birth in a birth centre "bedroom suite" attended by midwives. Despite my birth plan going completely down the tubes after my baby became too stressed to continue the pregnancy (and I never even went into labour), I have almost nothing but good memories about the experience overall.
The reason? As you said, Prue, it's about communication. At every step of the way, I was told what was happening, I was given options and recommendations, and I had my midwife present to help me understand and to give me an opinion I trusted. I was scared and upset, but the staff absolutely understood how I was feeling.
I had been nervous about giving birth in the USA, having heard so much about the medicalisation of childbirth, the unnecessarily high c-section rate, and the nightmare of health insurance red tape over there. I am so grateful my experience was a good one and very sorry yours was not. Ask for help. Keep asking until you get what you need.
In our birth classes our midwives used to say it's NOT just about having a healthy baby. It's about having a good birth experience too. I do hope the medical professionals get their act together in those hospitals where women still suffer the attitudes you experienced.
Posted 30 August 2011 - 04:28 PM
You have now joined the not-so-exclusive traumatic birth club
I suffered from shock after the birth of DD1 and found the book Active Birth by Janet Balaskas a great psyche-healer for my second attempt.
I am so sorry, but congratulations on the birth of your boys xx
Edited by Lelaina, 30 August 2011 - 04:31 PM.
Posted 30 August 2011 - 05:02 PM
I'm so sorry
. No human should be treated that way
. I am so sorry what could have been a wonderful life experience was turned into something you need to recover from
I second the suggestions that an Independent Midwife might help you to debrief. I have been blessed with wonderfully smooth births, but have always been especially grateful to the midwife who explained exactly what happened during the little hiccup at the end of my 3rd son's birth (the cord was looped under his arms) - I didn't know that debriefing would be so powerful, but understanding exactly what had happened made such a difference!
Posted 30 August 2011 - 05:33 PM
My goodness, i am so sorry that you had to go through all that. It really does shake you to the core.
I too had a traumatic birth that still shakes me up 14 months later and i dont know if i will ever truely recover from.
Long story short, waters broke without labour coming on so was induced, apparently i am very sensitive to it because it hit me like a tonne of bricks, i then reacted badly to the gas and kept lapsing in and out of consiousness. Midwives were short staffed (brilliant but they couldnt be everywhere!) so it was my husband that noticed my sons heart rate was dropping drastically after each contraction, which were right on top of each other. Rushed in for emergency caesar but they did a quick internal and realised i had gone from 4cm to 10cm in half an hour so a quick spinal, huge episiotomy and forceps later by son was dragged into the world (prosterior!), not breathing and with no heartbeat. Thanks the the amazing work of the OB, Paed and midwives they were able to bring him back. I didnt get to see him for more than an hour while i was in recovery and him in intensive care.Took 5 hours from first being hooked up to induction drugs until my son was born.
Meanwhile my poor husband was left standing in the hallway, with no one telling him anything. It was 30 mins later before someone told him we were both alive. Last he saw us we were both in serious trouble.
It took me until very recently to be able to think to myself that i did awesomely! Prosterior labour after being induced with no drugs. I am now alot prouder, but it has taken a long time and alot of self reflection. But i dont think i will ever truely be 'over' it.
My little man is now 14 months old and you would never be able to tell he had survived all that. He is my little miracle.
Posted 30 August 2011 - 07:01 PM
I am really sorry that happened to you. It is sad that it still does happen in this day and age.
I hear you on the operating discussions. After my daughter had been born by c/s not breathing and it took them 7 minutes to get her breathing and was rushed off to the NICU.....
The staff were trying to order pizza. From the theatre phone. At 1 in the morning. Apart from the doctor telling me harshly. " no more kids for you, it's a mess in here" I lay not knowing if my baby was going to be Ok, listening to them trying to find somewhere still open to deliver pizza.
I'm glad your boys are OK. Take care of yourself.
Posted 30 August 2011 - 08:08 PM
I have been eagerly waiting to hear how you were. So glad that I saw you here today. I found your journey inspiring and filled me with strength. I think you are wonderful to hang in there. Congratulations on the birth of your boys.
It's awful that you were treated like you didn't matter. I'm just horrified. It's quite incomprehensible.
It's hard when things don't turn out and you lose control. You even get mad at yourself for not speaking up, asking more. Just remember you did the best you could at the time in the circumstances. I hope you are healing a little
Posted 30 August 2011 - 08:20 PM
What a terrible experience - waking up to think your baby had died and not knowing what happened must have been truly horrifying. Anyone would have felt traumatised experiencing what you did in theatre. Thank-you for sharing your story, I am sure it has helped you and I imagine it will help a lot of other people too.
One thing you said though, the bit about "to have that experience and photographs and to feel the joy and elation and sense of achievement I have heard my friends talk about." I don't know if your friends were perhaps overstating it - but I certainly didn't think of my births in this way, and I never heard any of my friends describe theirs that way. My births were trouble and drug free, probably text-book - but joy and elation did not figure in there anywhere. Exhaustion ensured nothing much more than relief registered in my brain. That picture of what would have been the "picture perfect" birth - it is not realistic, and no-one should compare their birth to that ideal. It frustrates me that so many people think that is what they should be experiencing. Sure, some people do feel this way - and they are lucky, but it should not be held up there as the norm or as what "should be" or something you can "achieve" if you do it "right". I know that people don't want to scare mothers-to-be off from the upcoming birth - but there needs to be a bit more realism and pragmatism, or there will be a lot of women out there thinking they have been somehow "cheated" of the birth experience. This is not directed at you Prue, just a general statement as it seems it is a common expectation of birth these days.
I don't think anyone should suffer the indignity that you did, and we should be striving even more to make your experience something no-one else will have to endure. But we should also not be painting birth as a rosy lovely thing. It can after all be a life-threatening situation and people do even die, still. I had no idea of this, even after I had had a baby myself, until a stranger in a carpark told me about a member of their family dying in childbirth (that day) - I was shocked and grieved for that unknown stranger as her story and others like it are kept quiet and hidden - no-one tells their story. I am so glad you were able to tell yours. Thank-you for sharing it.
Posted 30 August 2011 - 08:24 PM
Just remember you did the best you could at the time in the circumstances.
Absolutely! I hope you are telling yourself that a bad experience happened and that bad experience was BEYOND YOUR CONTROL. You managed the best you could, and you have survived and your babies survived and are thriving. Well done!!
Posted 30 August 2011 - 08:33 PM
Thank you Prue for sharing your experience, for those women who have traumatic births it is good to know we are not alone.
I too had a traumatic birth. After being induced due to high blood pressure and nothing happening I had to have a c section. They decided to go with a spinal block as an epidural would take to long. When they did the spinal block I was screaming in pain as I could still feel everything, which I told them. Without checking the spinal block had worked they went ahead and cut me! Unfortunately I felt it and screamed as my poor husband walked in the or. Upon realising this I was given a ga and was not conscious for the birth of our baby. It is difficult to explain how I felt not being able to experience his birth. For me no amount of talking has been able to make the experience anything other than what it was.
I am now pregnant with our second child and have my own obgy, who knows me and I know him. With my first child, due to a pre-exiting medical issue I couldn't go with a mid wife and as such never saw the same dr twice. I am so glad to have a dr that I trust and who is there to represent me. I don't think continuity ofcare can be under estimated. Though I had a traumatic birth experience I am looking forward to the next birthing experience knowing I am in good hands.
Thanks again Prue for writing about something that is rarely discussed or written about.
Posted 30 August 2011 - 08:44 PM
I have many friends who have had "joyous" births! Including my sister who had a baby in a textbook drug-free birth two weeks before my boys were born. I am so envious of the photographs she has of herself and her partner welcoming their new son just moments after he was born. I think our first photographs are a few days after the boys' birth, and are just of our hands in the humidicrib. Not really happy snaps, but still precious.
I'm so sorry so many women have had such horrible experiences. I honestly think that had communication been better, and follow up care been extended to me, my psychological state would have been much better. It has taken MONTHS for me to write this, and I still had a bit of a panic attack the other night as I was filing it.
I can accept that things don't always go according to plan during childbirth, but I needed a debrief! I needed to talk about it and understand what had happened and why. As you may imagine, I am quite the talker, and not at all backwards in coming forwards, but my requests for information and help were just disregarded or ignored.
Posted 30 August 2011 - 09:01 PM
Prue, I am so sorry to hear about the traumatic experience.
I have been wondering how you and your twin sons are going now.
I second the suggestions that an Independent Midwife might help you to debrief... I didn't know that debriefing would be so powerful, but understanding exactly what had happened made such a difference!
I don't have clear memory of my first six months with my twins, apart for the continuous feeding, nappy changing, and settling. I do hope you get a chance to debrief, as it sounds very helpful in PP's experience.
Just remember you did the best you could at the time in the circumstances. I hope you are healing a little
I agree with BlazingB.
It has taken MONTHS for me to write this, and I still had a bit of a panic attack the other night as I was filing it.
I am so, so, sorry...
Posted 30 August 2011 - 09:11 PM
Thank you for sharing your story Prue and congrats on your sons.
I too had a traumatic birth (rushed to theatre with retained placenta, but then had massive bleed so needed life saving blood transfusion - I was awake the whole time and never been so terrified of not seeing my kids grow up).
I am also jealous of others who have had straight forward births. I was lucky to get a photo before going to theatre, but after that it was a couple of days before a midwife said I was starting to look better and she took my photo (as I'd been hooked up to lots and was on bedrest so unable to do anything for my newborn) - but even at that point I was on oxygen (I just took the nose prongs out for the photo).
I'm disgusted by your treatment at hospital - I am pleased to say that at least I had amazing treatment (the first couple of nights even had my own dedicated nurse whilst in the high dependency unit) and even when I moved to the maternity ward all the midwives gave me extra special care.
I think talking helps so I hope you are able to find the right people at the right time to help you.
Posted 30 August 2011 - 09:53 PM
I am so sorry Prue that you went through all this.
It is very hard, but I would encourage you to put in a complaint to the hospital, get your notes and debrief with an independent midwife. It requires energy and time, both of which would be scarce at the moment, but it may help you heal.
Wishing you and the boys all the best.
Posted 30 August 2011 - 09:56 PM
Good to hear from you Prue - I was wondering how things were going with those beautiful boys of yours!
However, I too am utterly shocked at the way you were treated. Surely there is some process by which you can make a formal complaint, obtain the information you are after or even report such awful treatment to some sort of medical body?
Sadly I think you are not alone in this position as I know many women who have had a traumatic experience and 99% of this is attributed to the disdain shown by the doctors/nurses/midwives/obs present.
I have no advice on how to deal with a traumatic birth but just wanted to offer the opinion that I think birth is a traumatic process. I did not have a "traumatic" birth but I remember lying there for hours in shock after giving birth to DS and thinking what a horribly awful, painful and shattering experience going through labour and giving birth was. I don't know why I felt this way (especially after hearing how bad things can really be) but I don't know many women who had the picture perfect birth.
I hope that time (and hopefully information & answers) help you to deal with what has happened, and I pray that all is well with your boys.
Edited by LittleRB, 30 August 2011 - 09:57 PM.
Posted 30 August 2011 - 09:56 PM
First I want to say congrats on your 2 beautiful boys.
I was riveted reading your story. I am godsmacked. Just appalled by what you have experienced.
The birth of my little girl was a cascade of intervention ending with a caesar due to failure to progress (never dilated more than 3 cms after labouring for 48 hours at home then a further 14 hours in hosp) but I never received anything but kind words and excellent treatment from everyone I came into contact with at my chosen hosp... everything was explained to me and my opinion listened to and consent sought every step of the way. I just can't believe the sort of treatment you experienced still happens, just one of the things you experienced would have been enough to make me ropeable, but all of it together - appalling.
Posted 30 August 2011 - 10:02 PM
I am so sorry to hear of your birth story and how you were treated.
You raise a good point with the need to ensure Mum is ok after a birth as well as the baby. I had a traumatic birth 3 months ago and everyone has said, well at least you have a healthy baby. I want to scream to them, but what about me??
My birth never leaves my mind, not for a minute and I have horrible flashbacks and nightmares from it. I want to talk about it all the time but everyone else has moved on. I felt shakey and teary reading your story, feeling so upset that you also suffered.
I have found a wonderful birth trauma counsellor who has been brilliant though. I hope you can someone who you can talk everything though with and can slowly start to heal from the trauma of what happened to you.
Posted 31 August 2011 - 10:34 AM
Prue - I want to acknowledge the courage it must have taken to publish your story, & I can completely understand what a huge thing it is to talk about what happened. I am from Birthtalk.org - we specialise in healing from Birth Trauma, and I hope the moderators are ok with me posting here, as our meetings for women after a traumatic birth are offered free. I wanted to let you know that you are not alone - that there are many others who share your feelings & responses after a traumatic birth...& that it is possible to heal & make peace & move on. There has been much talk on this thread about the importance of a debrief, & this is true - but it needs to be with the right person. It doesn't matter how much time has passed either, I didn't begin the healing process from my own traumatic birth until my son was 2.5yo. I felt the same as you after my son's birth - desperately wanting to talk about 'what happened', but no-one seemed to think I would need it. I want to encourage you to keep talking/writing/asking questions...the first step to healing is receiving validation for how you are feeling...& I hope that all the lovely responses you are receiving from your blogpost are validating for you that it is understandable that you are feeling the impact of this.
Posted 31 August 2011 - 11:57 AM
Thank you for bringing more focus to Birth Trauma.
There is still such an attitude about just be 'getting on with it' and 'you should just be glad your alive'. It is sickening, but sadly all too common. (for those who are reading that think this way, please read this: Childbirth…as traumatic as a midair QANTAS flight emergency?
Over-pressured, understaffed hospitals creating the cattle-call shuffle with pregnant patients at one end and mums and babies at the other, with no concern as to, as you said, mental wellbeing.
Like you, my best friend from highschool had a traumatic experience. She was prepared for the vaginal birth, but her contractions were more than she ever anticipated. There was no gentle lead up and labour started with full blown contractions. She didn't have a support person other than her un-informed husband (the hospitals take care of everything, right?). A failed epidural resulted in birth of her daughter under GA. Later she told me that at the mothers group she went to discussed their birth stories and it dawned on her that she didn't have one. Just a traumatic labour story and then.... nothing... waking up being told baby was alive after emergency C/S.
It has taken her 4 years of councelling (as PP said, with the right people) classes, and talking to various midwives to decide if she wanted another baby. I'm glad to say, she is pregnant. She is planning a homebirth. She has a dedicated MW with her this whole journey. A Doula, who is a retired MW. And even if she transfers they will stay with her.
This is why the continuity of care is so important. So many homebirthers choose that path after previous bad experiences. And it wasn't the birth, but the care and treatment received that is the biggest letdown. Lack of support. Lack of understanding. Lack of compassion.
The sad thing is that, as previously mentioned, our current model of care DOES NOT WORK
There is no accountability. There is no requirement to collate and publish mother's satisfaction rates. There is no follow up.
Some contacts for people that may need birth trauma counseling/help
(if they are not near you, contact them and they may be able to point you in the direction of a local group, or do counseling online/over the phone etc)
Also, independent MW's and Doulas often offer a counseling servicehttp://www.birthtalk.org/BirthWasntGreat.htmlhttp://www.birthrites.org/supporthttp://www.canaustralia.net/?q=node/27
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