Having a baby is a big deal. Bringing new life in to the world, however common it may be, is a big deal. For a lot of women, being pregnant and giving birth is something you’ll only do once or twice in your life, and for that reason you want it to be special.
Receiving the right maternity care plays a big part in a woman’s health and wellbeing during and after her pregnancy. Here in the UK we have a pretty sound set of maternity guidelines put in place to ensure women get the care they need during pregnancy. Unfortunately, despite these guidelines, sometimes things don’t go to plan, and this can have profound effects. Your Legal Friend are medical negligence solicitors, and they have pulled together some numbers from various surveys and studies to make this great post on pregnancy care in the UK. But of course, behind each of these numbers and statistics is a woman with a story to tell. I’m one of those women, and I’m going to tell you a little bit about my story.
My Pregnancy Care Story
Thankfully with both of my pregnancies I’ve received fantastic prenatal care. I really couldn’t fault it. From my regular appointments, routine scans to a few unplanned complications, everything was handled perfectly.
My first labour went well. The midwife was lovely, everything went smoothly and we were discharged relatively quickly, which is what we wanted. The whole experience was a happy one, and you can read all about it here. Unfortunately, with my second baby the experience isn’t so good.
The labour itself was fine. Despite a few complications with my labour not progressing at the rate it should, everything else went well and I delivered a healthy little girl. It’s afterward that things started to go downhill for me. To cut a long story short, after almost an hour of trying to deliver my placenta, a midwife or doctor (I was too exhausted to make note) declared that they’d have to give it a bit of a tug because they didn’t want me going to surgery. And so, with some serious yanking my placenta was delivered and that was that.
Or so we thought.
Around 20 minutes later as I was eating some toast and enjoying my new baby when I started to feel funny. I remember lifting up the bed sheet and seeing a lot of blood suddenly flowing from me. My mam pressed the button and within seconds the room was filled with people. Honestly, it was like a scene from a medical drama, and it was the scariest moment of my life. A pen was thrust in to my weary hand, and I somehow managed to sign my name to something or other and I was whisked off for emergency surgery.
I won’t go in to all the details here because I simply don’t have the space in this post. Some day I’ll write the full story, but for now I can tell you this: The whole thing was terrifying and I genuinely thought I was going to die.
The care I received in the postnatal ward wasn’t great either. From being made to feel like a nuisance when pressing the buzzer for help to being left to lie in sheets covered in blood until I went home. Traumatised from the dramatic labour, I really needed support and instead I was left feeling awful on my own in the ward.
The whole experience had a profound effect on me, the ripples of which can still be felt today. It’s something I can’t think or talk about without feeling anxious. In fact, I believe the event is a major contributing factor in the mental health problems I’ve been facing for the last seven years.
If just a few things had been done differently. If someone had made the decision to take me to surgery to remove the placenta, instead of yanking it out to save things going that way. If the people in the ward had recognised that I was feeling traumatised and needed some support.
If either of these things had been done differently, it may have changed the outcome completely.
One thing that still troubles me today is that I didn’t have to confidence to make a complaint. Clearly, mistakes were made and my placenta should not have been yanked out in the way it was. More care should have been taken to ensure the whole placenta had come out when it was pulled. If my mam hadn’t been in the room to raise the alarm, I could have bled to death. That thought it pretty scary. Maybe I should have filed a case against the hospital. Not for compensation, but so an investigation could be done and lessons could be learned.
Of course, there are two sides to every coin, and while I had a bad experience there will be many women who had wonderful experiences. Each and every one of those experiences can be learned from, both the good and the bad. By coming together to share our stories we can hopefully help shape the future of prenatal, labour and post natal care, which is why keeping the conversation on maternal health going is so important.
How did you find your care during pregnancy and labour? Do you feel like the postnatal care you received was sufficient? Please keep the conversation going in the comments below.
This post was written in collaboration with Your Legal Friend who are aiming to open up the conversation on better maternal care.