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Friend treated terribly by hpspital when gave birth at 21 weeks(8 Posts)
This is the first time I have put a post on this site but I am very much hoping I can get some advice in relation to the terrible time my friend has recently had. 2 weeks ago she gave birth to a live baby at 21 weeks of pregnancy who died after 3 hours. As if this wasn’t terrible enough for her and her husband the catalogue of disasters surrounding their loss has amplified the tragedy to an unbearable point. I won’t mention at this stage which hospital and local Doctor’s surgery were responsible for these failings but will do so if the advice I receive suggests that this would be a good idea.
A few days prior to going into labour my friend, who is Polish, was experiencing bad stomach pains so she contacted her midwife by phone and email to ask her opinion. She didn’t hear anything back and a few days later she started bleeding quite heavily so her husband took her to A and E where she sat for one and half hours before being seen by a Doctor at 2pm. All the time she was bleeding heavily and experiencing bad pains. When the very junior Doctor examined her he said that he couldn’t see anything wrong and left her in pain and bleeding (which turned out to be full on labour) until 5 hours later (the heartbeat was checked but nothing else) when another Doctor examined her and send she was 9cms dilated and the baby’s head was engaged. He said that it was now too late to do anything and that the baby would be born but if it hadn’t died already would do so soon after being born. They were then asked by a good midwife whether they wanted to see the baby after it was born and after a heartbreaking discussion decided that they wouldn’t. After telling the good midwife this they were then attended to by a ‘Bereavement Midwife’ who told them she thought they should see the baby. They repeated their decision not to her but when the baby was born she said “oh he’s beautiful – you have to see him, he’s you baby!” Once again my friend’s husband firmly but fairly told her that this is not what they wanted. She then ignored this wish and put the baby in a cot in the room with them and left him there until he died 3 hours later. All the time my friend and her husband did not look at the baby. My friend hid under a blanket. When the baby finally died the bereavement midwife asked them to look at him and said “but he’s so lovely!” Then she became cross with them saying “how can you not look at him – he’s your baby!” She then went on to tell them that the birth did not need registering but they should have a funeral. They asserted the fact that they did not want this. Since returning home this midwife has rung them several time leaving messages about funeral arrangements. This is causing them great distress. Since leaving the hospital my friend went to see a GP at her surgery and spoke to him about the situation. However, after 10 minutes this Doctor said that the appointment was over and refused to give her an internal examination saying she needed to make an appointment with a female Doctor for that! My friend left very distressed again. Now they have received a letter inviting them to an appointment with an Obstetrician at the hospital to review the events around the loss and to get the results of tests done. The letter was written and sent by the bereavement midwife. This is an appointment that they really want to go to but it is taking place at the ante natal clinic where understandably my friend does not want to go as it reminds her of when she was happily pregnant.
Please could someone help me with the advice I should give her. I am English and am ashamed of the way my country’s Doctors and Midwives have treated her. I have already recommended she take a polish translator with her. Any other suggestions would be very welcome please. Many thanks!
Bumping for you. The hospital will have PALS (patient advocates), contact them for help and advice?
When they feel ready they should complain. Staff need some serious retraining. SANDS might be able to help them, if there's a local group they may advocate for them.
I wonder if there were language or cultural issues. The hospital obviously failed to listen to this poor couple. I think the norm has become to see and hold a preterm baby. This wasn't the case a few generations ago in this country, don't know what would have happened in Poland in this sad situation, what is awful is their wishes were ignored.
Many thanks indeed for the advice so far.
That's just terrible. Have they contacted SANDS for support and advice?
This is a very sad story. I think communication failure is the major issue here.
If a woman is 21 weeks pregnant and suffering significant abdominal pain, then the usual advice is to attend the Maternity unit, not A&E or emailing a midwife. Bleeding is another reason to be in Maternity. Given the history, it is unlikely anything could have been done to prevent the birth of a baby too young to survive but the staff would have been more confident and knowledgeable and the environment would probably have been better than hours in A&E.
In this country it is now normal for parents to see the baby and rare for them to decline. However, it should not have been pushed.
It is also normal to meet after the birth/late miscarriage with professionals to look at events, answer questions and explore plans for future pregnancies. For example, it might be recommended that special scans and/or precautions are taken to anticipate/prevent premature birth. Sometimes a problem with the baby or the mother can be identified which explains events.
Such a meeting is not compulsory but is considered best practice. The parents can decline or delay until they feel ready. It seems essential that an interpreter is there as well.
Best wishes to your friend.
"She then went on to tell them that the birth did not need registering"
This isn't the case. A baby born alive at any point in pregnancy should be registered with a birth and death certificate.
It sounds like it has all been done so very, very badly, if this is what happened. I'd be shocked that a live baby was just left in a cot to die alone for 3 hours.
PALS would be a good suggestion as they will be able to look into things ore and would hopefully be able to find an interpreter for the appointment.