Do I need a good reason to read my notes from labour and would it help?

(16 Posts)
destinationanywhere Sun 30-Sep-12 20:34:35

I know legally I can read my notes. I can see that in cases where there has been a really traumatic labour or with a terrible outcome that this is justified and no one would question the need for it.

The thing is since ds4 was born 5 months ago I keep playing his labour and birth in my head every night. Its not too bad in the day as I am so busy but in bed every night without fail its all I can think about.

My pregnancy was not planned. I had a terrible pregnancy and felt very ill and generally struggled. I gave up work and then he was born at 35 weeks. It was all very unexpected and I had a quick labour (2 hours). The thing is it was so overwhelming that I felt very out of control. Not what I was expecting or wanting.

As he was early the midwife had to get a junior doctor to examine me. I didn't even think to ask how dilated I was or anything. I was kind of on another planet with the gas and air. When he was born he was quickly taken to the special care unit as he had low oxygen levels and blood sugar. They had to give him formula and I could not see him for a couple of hours. When pregnant I had hoped the reward for my horrible pregnancy would be nice skin to skin and early feeding etc. As it was he spent 2 weeks on the NNU tube fed and under lights. I struggled leaving my other boys and I subsequently was found and treated for high BP which I have only just stopped but it has still not fully resolved. It seems I must have developed problems between my last midwife appt and delivery.

My previous deliveries were not ideal either. Instrumental delivery and shoulder dystocia, polyhydramnios and CS etc. I was so hoping this would be the one that cancelled the others out.

Now I know I am lucky. DS is well and thriving. I have bonded with him totally and have no PND. But recently a couple of friends have had 'ideal births' with quick hospital discharges and I got upset again. I am very aware that things were not bad at all compared to many of the stories I have read. So why do I keep playing it over?

Would it help to go through my notes? Would they even say anything useful? Would I be allowed and who would I ask? I don't really have good reason. I am seeing my midwife soon as she runs the local FPC and I wondered whether to mention it to her. I have not spoken to DH as he would think I was mad!

BartletForTeamGB Sun 30-Sep-12 20:47:18

In my area, they offer the Birth Afterthoughts service to anyone. I had the most uncomplicated home birth and I still really enjoyed (not quite the right word!) reading through my notes. I am sure they would gladly see you to discuss it.

Rockchick1984 Sun 30-Sep-12 20:47:20

First of all, let me say congratulations on your DS! I would personally class that as a very tough labour / delivery, I understand what you mean about other stories you hear of, but that doesn't make your experience any less valid!!

I had a "textbook" delivery, no pain relief except gas and air, to tell my story it would sound like it had gone very easily. However, there was things I wasn't sure about, eg the contractions didn't feel how I imagined they would, so I contacted PALS at my local hospital (phone no was on the website) and they sent me a form to complete, signed a cheque and they sent me my notes! I was offered a birth reflections appointment but wanted to read my notes before deciding about that.

Turns out DS was back to back, and my contractions were so close together I wasn't getting a break between them! No one told me any of this at the time (to my recollection) and it has really helped me to know why it wasn't how I'd read about it being!

It can't hurt to get the notes, birth reflections is meant to be excellent also but I felt satisfied with the answers I'd got just from my notes smile

destinationanywhere Sun 30-Sep-12 20:58:19

Wow thanks that's interesting. I am sitting here feeling tearful about it again so it's nice to hear validation that I am not going nuts.

For me it's that I wasn't mentally prepared for labour. I wanted to remember it. To hold him and feed him and have skin to skin. To be home with my boys quickly. It was touch as I only got to see ds3 for 10 minutes in 2 weeks.

I am not questioning the care just want to understand more about my labour and of course I wish I had asked more at the time. I don't understand why I didn't!

I wasn't aware that I could get my notes to take home so that's great. Will look into it.

I have just been sent my notes from my daughters delivery 6 yrs ago and in the process of getting my sons from Manchester (13 yrs ago) purely because I am pregnant with third and also because I start my midwifery training in march and want to "remember"!! I wrote to the head of midwifery who then passed me to medical records and for my dd's notes they charged me £10 admin fee to search and then £12 copying charge which I didn't think was too bad.

There were no revelations and other than timings and how dilated I was on arrival I didn't learn very much.

If your trust offers a birth afterthoughts or debriefing appointments I would see if that helps - you dont have to give a reason for requesting your notes.

PiggyMad Mon 01-Oct-12 22:25:34

I contacted the supervisor of midwives and asked if I could have a birth de-brief after my labour. It was my first DC and it all happened really quickly and felt so out of control. I worried that my experience wasn't 'bad' enough to warrant a debrief, but the SofM and Head of midwives were lovely and understanding.

I met with the head of midwives who had my notes and we went over everything last week. It was so useful and made me feel much better. She said that it can be common for people's minds to take a while to catch up with their body after a quick delivery - your body gets on with things, but you don't have time to catch up psychologically. You had to deal with that and the worry of events after the birth of your DS so it is understandable that you would want to understand it all.

rogersmellyonthetelly Tue 02-Oct-12 20:23:26

It helped me when I read mine after ds birth. I realised then that a lot of the stuff that had panicked me and made me feel traumatised was actually very necessary to the happy outcome I had, and that maybe I hadn't been in a fit state to understand the instructions and other stuff I thought I heard. From the notes I was clearly away with the fairies for a lot of it, and whilst they clearly did try to explain stuff they might aswell have been talking oompa loompa to me.

jaggythistle Tue 02-Oct-12 20:56:57

i wish I'd read mine sooner after DS1's birth. like you i felt weird and cried on hearing about other people's more straightforward births. this went on for months, i remember crying in the shower when my niece was born 4 months later blush

i was in labour for 2 days and ended up with an emcs. DS1 was fine.

i asked the HV about whether i could talk to someone about it but there doesn't seem to be a reflections type service here.

i got as far as requesting the form from the hospital for viewing patient notes, but never sent it in because i needed a witness similar to a passport application! i couldn't think of anyone to explain it to.

i guess i stopped thinking about it so much eventually.

even though i had a comparatively calm (although quick) VBAC for DS2, I've actually thought about requesting notes for that too.

hope you feel better whatever you do. smile

destinationanywhere Fri 05-Oct-12 17:39:48

I can relate to that jaggy. I cried buckets when my niece was born 3 months after ds. SIL had the perfect birth and was tuckef up back at home 6 hours later. I can't watch OBEM type programmes anymore either.

I will def look into getting my notes. I am slightly put off by needing a witness though as I'm sure everyone I know including dh would think I was mad.

jaggythistle Fri 05-Oct-12 17:44:42

it might not be the same everywhere - I've never heard of anyone else having to do it! might just be our local hospital policy? smile

Flisspaps Fri 05-Oct-12 17:46:42

Our trust request a witness to sign the form I may have practised DH's signature accidentally on the form

destinationanywhere Sat 06-Oct-12 15:21:06

Ooh good idea flisspaps!

Mikyahrose Tue 09-Oct-12 09:16:33

Ooo I'm really intrigued about this too.
Again not because I had a bad labour or bad care. Just because I'm really nosey!
I really enjoyed reading the notes I took away with me and have photocopied them as I know eventually the mw will keep them.
Think I'm gonna look into getting the other notes today too.

NotAnOstrich Mon 15-Oct-12 16:37:03

Hi, I have been to our local Birth Reflections service and would recommend it - or getting your notes through PALS.

The midwife I saw brought along notes for both my births - from 18 months + 3.5 years before. I didn't have to give a "reason" - you just have to want the service - though my reasons were traumatic rapid first birth with ambulance, blood transfusions etc and v rapid second birth, not much bonding.

Good luck + hope you get your notes ok.

elizaregina Tue 16-Oct-12 09:47:03

rock chick

Your delivery sounded a bit like mine, I too was told mine was " textbook" I had gas and air and pethadine.

It was only FIVE YEARS LATER.....I was told I too was back to back! I couldnt believe it!

I found it really interesting and cathartic to go through the notes and aside from bringing up the birth and some bad stuff - was also great to hear how DD was born!

VeremyJyle Wed 17-Oct-12 12:47:24

I went to read my notes today and left me feeling really confused, things I remember and things recorded varied, I'm glad I did it but it didn't give me any answers, as a previous poster said it can be very factual
My read 2.29 SVD Male infant, a pretty insensitive way to sum up a horrendous birth, omitted anything about shoulders stuck/cord round neck/sudden change of tactics from normal pushing to being hoicked about and various maneuvres to deliver baby.
Good luck and aquaint yourself with all the abbreviations first, OP for example meaning back to back, FHHR fetal heart heard regular, Ceph head down, it can save a lot of time if you know what you're reading. Hth

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