My maternity care story

This is a collaborative post

I am a very lucky mumma to two beautiful boys and I am very lucky to have had two very healthy pregnancies and two really rather good birth stories. Both of my boys came into this world very differently – Zach was born via a planned caesarian as he was breech and Oscar was a successful vbac. The first birth was rather calm and relaxed (as relaxed as you can be with the knowledge that you are going in for major surgery) and the second was, well – manic! The boy was in a rush to get out and I only just made it to the hospital in time to start pushing.

The level of care I received throughout my pregnancies, birth and beyond was brilliant. Despite being cared for in two different hospitals, both with quite worrying reviews and one that I know had the odd awful story of clinical negligence, I felt like I was lucky to have had the level of care that I received. Of course, not everything was perfect and it is always quite obvious that no matter what you are in hospital for, the doctors and nurses, midwives and health visitors are overstretched. You want to be their sole focus but in reality, you are not.

Probably one of the hardest things I found throughout both pregnancies was often seeing a different midwife. In 2015, CQC polled 40,000 women who had just given birth and 28% said they would have liked to have seen the same midwife throughout the pregnancy. {1}

When you fall pregnant, you are referred to a team of midwives and you'll never know which face you will see when you turn up to your appointment. The time I found this the hardest was when I was pregnant with Zach and my Dad became terminally ill. He sadly passed away when I was 7 months into my pregnancy. It is probably one of the most stressful things that you can go through whilst you are carrying a baby and I never felt comfortable opening up to any of the midwives about the situation that I found myself in. This was mainly because it would have been like constantly opening a wound. If I spoke to one about it and saw someone different the next time, I would have to revisit it again afresh and I just didn't want that. The first time I mentioned it was after he died and it was a very brief conversation which was never referred to again. At such an emotional time in my life, it would have been a big help to me to be seeing the same friendly face each week as I think I would have opened up more.

The rest of my care throughout the pregnancy was second to none and with Oscar, the midwife even gave me extra appointments as she didn't agree that you should be checked less times than you are with your first.

When they suspected that Zach was breech, I was sent straight up to the hospital, scanned and then appointments were made quickly because I was already 37 weeks. And then when D-Day arrived, despite waiting around for half of the day to go into theatre, I ended up being popped in before someone who had been there the previous day and cancelled – obviously bad for her but good for me! 

My c-section was mostly without fault, although the trainee anaesthetist mucked up the cannula and I ended up with a hole in my hand! That still makes me wince now.

The delivery was amazing, with the surgeon talking me through everything, explaining what was being done and when, delivering my beautiful baby and then stitching me up magnificently. So many of the midwives afterwards commented on my tidy scar! It was only after I gave birth that it went a little downhill as I was sick repeatedly from the drugs. It took for me to vomit six times (which is incredibly painful when you have just been cut open), for them to offer me an anti-sickness injection. If only they had given it to me straight away, they would have saved me a lot of pain and anguish.

There was quite a wait to go over to the postnatal ward because no beds were available and we were in recovery until 11pm. However – because of the lack of beds, I was transferred to a private room which we ended up staying in the whole time at no cost which was a bit of a result.

The midwives in postnatal were a bit hit and miss. Most were lovely but there were a couple who didn't seem interested in helping me – especially during the times that I would ring them to ask them to pass me my baby as I couldn't manage the manoeuvre myself. In the 2015 CQC survey {1}, 30% of women felt that they weren't always treated with kindness after the birth and I definitely experienced moments of this.

All in all though, they were mostly incredible, just very, very busy. Waiting for the doctor to discharge us on the Saturday was a bit frustrating as we were ready to go home in the morning but she was stuck in theatre for most of the day and was the only one who could sign us off. I did get home in time for X-Factor though! 

With Oscar, I was in hospital for a lot less time because it was a natural birth. It also helped that I stayed home as long as I possibly could – although that was only because they had told me to. When I first phoned the hospital to tell them I thought I was in labour, they told me to wait until I was having contractions 3 minutes apart for 2 hours. When the contractions suddenly started coming frequently and I mentioned on a private Facebook group that I could feel pressure down below, I was told that I must call the hospital and they agreed that I had better go in to be checked out. It turned out that I was fully dilated and the urge to push came as soon as I was being assessed! They quickly gave me the go ahead and had to wheel me into a delivery room in between contractions!

Unfortunately Oscar got a bit stuck as he was back to back and this is where I am sure my labour went a bit wrong. Not wrong in the sense that I managed to deliver a healthy baby boy but in that it was so rushed, there was no time to think about the birth that I wanted. As I was being monitored and baby was getting a bit agitated, the male registrar insisted on an episiotomy to get him out. He also tried the suction cup which went completely wrong and ended up using forceps just to help him out. I will never know, but I will always wonder whether if I had been able to change position, so that gravity was helping me out, I may not have needed that episotomy. My recovery from that and the forceps was awful – even worse than my recovery from the c-section.

Once I had given birth and enjoyed that tea and toast (something I never got after Zach – it really is as amazing as everyone said it is and I think I had two rounds of it!), the nurses wanted me to take a shower so they could transfer me over to postnatal. Unfortunately I had lost an awful lot of blood during the birth (there was talk of a blood transfusion at one point) and as I reached the bathroom, I passed out! The nurses were fantastic, got me back into bed, gave me a lot more time and told me to eat lots of sweets! They monitored me really well after that. Oscar was born at just after half ten in the evening and we were sent on our way at about 3pm the next day when they were happy with all of my readings. I could barely walk, I could barely sit down, but I had my precious new bundle of joy and his big brother with us. 

There is so much that happens to our bodies, to our minds, to our emotional states when we give birth. I think we underestimate what a huge thing it really is. We take it for granted because there are almost 700,000 live births in the UK every year.{2}. The care that we receive throughout our pregnancy, throughout labour and in the first days after the birth is paramount to how we view what is supposed to be one of the most amazing moments of our lives. We were very lucky that our boys were born healthy, that I came out of surgery and out of the vbac healthy. I have friends who have very, very different stories to tell but I think it is so important that we aren't scared to talk about what went on, what could have been improved, so that for others going through their first labour, their first c-section, their first vbac; they can prepare themselves for as many eventualities as possible. 

 

1.http://www.cqc.org.uk/publications/surveys/maternity-services-survey-2015

2.https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/livebirths/bulletins/birthsummarytablesenglandandwales/2015

 

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