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Nightmare labour- would you/should I lodge a complaint?

(63 Posts)
doubleshotespresso Mon 14-Jul-14 10:41:50

Well DD is now 5 weeks old and is fine and thankfully doing really well.

Just looking for some thoughts from seasoned muumsnetter's, the hospital where I gave birth fell woefully short in many ways and there were several points of the labour where I and DP thought we might not have made it through at all... Absolutely terrifying at some stages. Apologies this is so long, but the detail will I hope help some of you lovely ladies give me some balanced and honest views....

So felt twinges the afternoon before I was due to be induced, but tried to stay busy and get through it. By the time DP got home from work contractions were well into a rhythm and by the time he got out the shower I was doubled up. So called ahead as discussed with midwife and was told to call back when they had been every ten minutes for at least 2 hours. Lasted until 9pm until they said they would see me in the next 2 1/2 hours. So got there and waited in reception with another couple in what appeared to be equal pain levels until gone midnight.

Finally got taken to a birth suite and introduced to a midwife who asked about birth plans etc.... Told her I would like an epidural if necessary which she assured me would happen in the next couple of hours. All good. Then she left..... Having given me 2 paracetamol. hmm

Pain then multiplied to levels I was struggling to contend with and DP buzzed for her. She examined me and said it was going to be ages yet, but she would bring me gas and air. This sent me completely sideways and did absolutely sod all to relieve the pain.

She then announced to DP she was going on her break for an hour and would do the epidural when she got back. DP (thank God) insisted she stayed after a great deal of questioning as I was in agony by this point and the gas was clearly having fuck all effect. She came back 20 minutes with another midwife who examined me and declared I was now 9cm dilated (had been 3cm 20 minutes prior)

"Oh well there will be no epidural-push!)"

The second midwife argued in front of us with the first one and eventually bleeped for a doctor who arrived reasonably swiftly. At this point she took one look and said to the midwife "how did she get to this ?this baby is spine to spine, get a canula in(I still have bruises where they did this)" And screamed at me to push or I would need forceps/caesarean.... And so the three of them stared at a monitor showing the baby heartbeat was dropping, whilst shouting further and DP had fear in his eyes I hope to never see again.

This continued (shit the pain was awful-felt like my back was breaking) until gone3am My vision went, everything flashed white when the doctor thankfully safely delivered our beautiful DD by vontousse . There was an awful moment when they put her on my stomach and she was silent, but to our relief she then screamed the house down....

So, four hours later I was taken to theatre to get stitched (3rd degree tear lovely-the doctor didn't have time to cut me I was told afterwards) and was not allowed anything to drink in all this time, despite the tropical temperatures in the hospital. They were yet to label DD and I insisted this happen before I leave. DP was told he could come with me to theatre, given scrubs to change into and then refused entry when we got there. Anaesthetist should not have offered apparently. No idea why as the theatre room appeared to be like a social club corridor as staff drifted through the entire duration as I am laying there off my head on morphine with legs in stirrups whilst they removed swabs they had left inside me for 4 hours (the pain was just awful). Then when I thought we were all finished with stitches, six of them fell silent wandering around looking at the floor, ignoring me. Eventually, I said "what the hell is happening here?"

The doctor responded "nothing for you to worry about-we have lost a thread."

This was found on the floor eventually and I was taken back to a different room, where my heart rate then dropped and it transpired I had lost 1 1/2 litres of blood and the morphine made me drop out a bit.

Was then finally allowed water and left alone with DD (who I breastfed for the first time alone-beautiful but with no attention or help from midwife)...

By the time I could move my legs I literally begged to get in the shower which they allowed me to do (only been told since this should never have been allowed unaccompanied, but to be honest I think I preferred that).

At 7pm that evening I discharged myself as I could not bear to stay a minute longer and just wanted to get myself our new baby and DP home to a clean bathroom and away from all the madness that was happening nearby with other couples and their visitors etc....

I feel strongly that if I was not lucky enough to have had DP there, myself and or DD would most certainly have not made it through to write this and would hate for anybody to go through what we did. If I were to see the initial midwife again, I would want answers as to why she was so blasé and failed to put my wishes and safety ahead of her break-time. That said though, I would not want to see anyone lose their job, just review their treatment of women in the throws of labour, so feel like I should write and feedback my experience to what is supposedly a leading teaching birth centre hospital...

Your honest thoughts on this would be most appreciated. . . . . Bsmile

smidge1717 Mon 14-Jul-14 11:18:55


Wow what an awful ordeal! Firstly congratulations on your new baby and thank goodness you are both healthy and well!

I am 38+2 with my first baby so haven't yet had to experience labour and how hospital deal with me-- even though there have been things that have definitely left me with questions!

Personally I would complain about how you were treated. Now that some time has passed it gives you an opportunity to write a calm letter; stating the facts and your concerns.
I totally understand u not wanting to get anyone fired but it's doesn't excuse how u were treated and to be honest I would have thought they would investigate and feedback to the staff concerned-- hopefully they will learn from this experience. Just think by bringing this incident to the hospitals attention you could be preventing any other new mother and baby plus families having to go through the ordeal you did!

That's just my opinionsmile I hope you and baby are doing well x

squizita Mon 14-Jul-14 11:25:43

my wishes and safety ahead of her break-time.

How long had she been on shift?
I was once placed at great risk by an A&E nurse - not in labour, something else- who was too tired/thirsty/hungry to do her job properly. That is the flipside.

Your story sounds appalling - but for this element of it I would rather have a fresh person than someone who needs a break in any medical circumstance (from experience). They're not robots and it's when they're tired they make mistakes.

doubleshotespresso Mon 14-Jul-14 11:26:36

Hi Smidge,

Thank-you! Yes that is basically my primary reason for wanting to write.... I would hope nobody ever had to go through that (or their DP to be honest I think it was as bad for him as he was more "with it" if you see what I mean!)

Wishing you all the best for your new arrival! smile

doubleshotespresso Mon 14-Jul-14 11:30:10

Squizita, she told DP that she had started her shift at 10pm, but all the staff told us they were "really busy" at different stages. Totally accept your point but we both felt she did not seem to care during the labour. I never saw her again once I went to theatre, seems strange for a midwife not to have checked in at least once?!

squizita Mon 14-Jul-14 11:36:09

I would mention it but bear in mind she might well have been off dealing with someone else by then - I get the impression it was quite chaotic and the MW weren't being managed/communicating very well at all! That might be something to write in your complaint: they need to be organised to deal with emergencies.

doubleshotespresso Mon 14-Jul-14 11:36:25

To be clear also, she intended to leave me for her hours break, with a buzzer if I needed her. DP was told how to buzz "in case I couldn't manage to" hmm

squizita Mon 14-Jul-14 11:39:17

shock So not someone else taking over!?! Sounds utterly chaotic!

doubleshotespresso Mon 14-Jul-14 11:41:36

I think you are spot on there, she probably was off dealing with somebody else...

On reflection, we think that they operate a system where they have a certain number of people at a specified pay grade/ medical capability who just crowd control and monitor women until things get to serious levels where they then bleep for somebody who can be bothered / who is Medically trained...

It was certainly busy, but I wouldn't have said that's an excuse for leaving somebody for 4 hours before they get stitches in a room too hot to breathe in, it was not even human to be frank.

doubleshotespresso Mon 14-Jul-14 11:45:55

Chaotic yes! DP was telling my Mum afterwards and said to her he had never felt so frantic.... I am so disappointed in myself as I really thought I had prepared him for every possible eventuality within reason and it was a butchers shop. Don't think wither if us expected a fluffy pain-free experience accompanied by whale music but a bit of pethidine at the least would not have gone amiss! Thanks God he stood his ground and did us so proud.

squizita Mon 14-Jul-14 11:48:04

It sounds like the whole place is collapsing. I would definitely complain in writing. Sounds appalling and whoever is running it needs to know and it needs to change!

doubleshotespresso Mon 14-Jul-14 11:54:11

Okay thanks- wanted to check I was not over-reacting, sometimes when you are over-involved in your head it seems worse. I have really tried, but cannot seem to get past the whole experience, things from there keep springing into my head day and night, feel as if somebody is telling me to do something... i don't know.... Was our first time so wanted to get some balanced views on here. Thank-you for your posts!

mabelbabel Mon 14-Jul-14 12:05:03

Do they have an after birth services? Our hospital has an option to go in and talk through all the notes with a midwife (not the one who you are unhappy with). It does help you to understand what happened/when/why and what could have been done better. At our place they will also help you to put together a letter of complaint if you feel one is necessary, and will make sure this goes to the correct people and is properly followed through.

mabelbabel Mon 14-Jul-14 12:06:28

PS I did this after DD2's birth, and although I didn't lodge an official complaint I found the process of going through the notes extremely useful.

slightlyinsane Mon 14-Jul-14 12:09:26

Firstly congrats for the safe arrival. I would suggest asking to review your notes with your community mw before putting anything in writing. It will help you order events and may answer some of your questions. It will also give you a head start as the first thing they will do upon receiving your letter is review your notes to check the details. I also found it really interesting as they usually document things you've forgotten or didn't see. I would also ask your mw for the name of the person your letter needs to go to. Ensure you give them enough ways of contacting you so you know the letter has been received and read/ delt with.
I know traumatic experiences are hard to get past but in the future try not to let it skew your opinions. My 1 st labour wasn't the best and I struggled to have a good opinion of the staff and hospital for my next one. It added a lot of stress that really wasn't needed as they were fab the next 2 times.
Don't worry about the potential of a bad outcome for the mw involved. You have no idea what her history is, this could be a one off and a slap on the wrist and prevention for it to happen again, or it could be added to a long list of things that she has been failing in and add meat to the bones of what they need to discipline her to keep mums and babies safe.

Iquitelikeapples Mon 14-Jul-14 12:12:33

I'd initially request a birth debrief with the supervisor of midwives. At our hospital you just ring up & ask. A friend had a difficult birth & found it very helpful to her to discuss what had happened & why. You could then go on to make a complaint after if you wished but I think you're more likely to get an honest explanation via the debrief route rather than a complaint.

Liney15 Mon 14-Jul-14 12:36:53

I had a birth debrief 6 months after an induction which ended in emergency c-section. It was really useful and a midwife was rebuked for some aspects, also the way notes were filed was amended as mine were awful and very unclear. All in all it helped me come to terms with the birth and afterwards.

BunnyPotter Mon 14-Jul-14 12:47:37

I think you should complain. Even if they were busy, she had another emergency etc., it doesn't mean that what happened to you was ok.

There is a FB group (closed, so only other group members, not your FB friends) can see what is posted for the Birth Trauma Association (it's the group name too). There are other women who have had difficult experiences and are dealing with their symptoms afterwards, in case you want to take a look.

doubleshotespresso Mon 14-Jul-14 12:57:57

Thank- you all so much, some great advice offered here along with some possible routes to explore. Great to receive such reassuring and sensible advice, will be re-reading this evening!

Broodzilla Mon 14-Jul-14 12:58:09

Congratulations, first of all!

I would echo those above who have recommended asking for a debriefing at the hospital - it'll help you make sense of what happened and help them learn from any mistakes.

Also - you say you "can't get past it, things keep popping in your head..." (Not an exact quote, am on my phone...) I wanted to mention the possibility of PTSD. I'm not mentioning it to alarm you, but because it's not talked about enough.

You coped amazingly well. Please don't blame yourself for "not preparing your DP" (again, paraphrasing...). The medical staff should've looked after you, and explained to both of you what was happening and why.

You did not fail - if anyone did, it sounds like the stafffailed to care for you and your baby!

MrsCakesPremonition Mon 14-Jul-14 12:58:57

Congratulations on the arrival of your baby. I'm so sorry that you had such a frightening experience.

It all sounds like it was run in a very peculiar way and that they were hopeless at communicating with you, for example a midwife isn't able to site an epidural and she should have explained that, she should also have explained that it is quite usual for women to be given paracetamol in early labour but given you the option to refuse.

Your hospital should offer a service where you get to talk through what happened to you with a midwife. This can be useful in understanding why things progressed the way they did (esp. if communication at the time was lacking). Ask the Supervisor of Midwives about this service. There is nothing to prevent you complaining as well as using the debrief service (although I'd go for the debrief first in an ideal world).

I hope you feel better soon and that you and your DH enjoy your baby.

greyslates Mon 14-Jul-14 13:07:11

Mine was bloody awful too. I've complained but not heard back yet. Unfortunately I suspect complaining won't make a blind bit of difference.

MrsCakesPremonition Mon 14-Jul-14 13:10:39

You might also want to contact the MSLC (Maternity Services Liaison Committee) for your hospital. They are independent bodies that work to ensure that parents' voices are heard in the development and improvement of maternity services. They won't be able to investigate your individual complaint (that's not their role) but they will be grateful for your feedback and be able to raise it with the midwives.

doubleshotespresso Mon 14-Jul-14 13:20:00

Broodzilla- I think you make a fair point regarding PTSD, though to be honest what is freaking me out is the fact that my memory of the sequence of events seems to be missing chunks, was really upset to see a picture this weekend of DP holding DD for the first time. I did not remember it and that's because my Mum took it while I was in theatre.... I had apparently seen it the week after but was so drugged up I have absolutely no memory of it.... That frightens me, my memory is famously good so have been trying to piece the whole thing together in vain.

MrsCakes- I am sure some find it useful, though I am not sure I see the value in a debrief and I am not sure I would keep my cool in that situation. The more I think back at it all now, the more angry I become, even writing the post for this thread has made my blood boil, it was all so unnecessary and put our child at very real risk. Discussing with somebody how tired the midwife may have been will not help me. I want reassurance it will never happen to anybody else.
Yes we needed better communication, but primarily we needed better and quicker and expert action, they failed on all three counts.

doubleshotespresso Mon 14-Jul-14 13:28:51

Greyslates sorry to hear that-hope your complaint is dealt with soon.

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