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Does this sound like a normal, reasonable birth experience? Still feeling trauma 3 months on(103 Posts)
I just wanted to post on here to have some impartial opinions on whether my birth and recovery experience was fairly normal, or if it would be fair that things could have been managed better for me.
I had my first baby in October last year so we're 3 months on now. I was 6 days overdue when some mild contractions started on Monday afternoon. I bounced on my ball, prepared for labour. I had done my hypnobirthing and felt calm and in control. These contractions continued at a very frequent pace all evening. Hospital said only to come in when they started getting much stronger and less manageable. It was about 2am when I went to hospital with my husband as I was really wanting some advice on how far of dilated at all I was. It's my first baby so didn't know how intense it could get and they were so regular like every 2-3 minutes apart all day. Hospital sent me home as I was only 1cm dilated. I went home, and stayed up all night having these very frequent and regular, but not too intense contractions.
I managed broken sleep of maybe 2 hours. Next day this continued and I rang community midwife who I was boooked in with for a second sweep that day. She said to come along. She gave me a sweep and said it all looked good. I was 3cm - yay!! Surely this would mean baby coming tonight. I was exhausted and frustrated at this point. She said go to xhospital when pains ramp considering I'm already at 3cm.
So I go home and sure as that - pains get more intense and I couldn't really talk through them anymore. By 8pm I go back to hospital. At this stage I was shattered from over 24 hours of contractions. When I get there the pains fade away - what the hell I thought! Midwife examines me and hey presto I'm not 3cm at all- now apparently I'm only 2 at a push. Community midwife was wrong. They can't keep me in and tell me to go home with some co codamol. Midwife says these contractions aren't severe enough but I'm begging saying at home it's unbearable. I don't know what's happening as they are so much worse at home! Sleep?! How could I possibly sleep! So I go home, exhausted, shattered, heart broken!! Knowing the hardest part is yet to come.
The time at home from then on was hideous. Pain started in my back and I felt a constant horrendous pressure down below all the time. I sat on my gym ball and propped myself up with cushions to try and get a couple of minutes sleep between contractions! It was hell.
Went back to hospital at 3am as couldn't take it anymore. They told me baby was back to back and said I'm in spurious labour. I lay in the bath in hospital having more unproductive contractions for another 5 hours.
They then take me to induction bay and finally give me diamorphine. I managed to sleep for one whole hour and was then woken with a brutal contraction. Things ramped up, my water broke and I was now 4cm. Thank god!! Allowed now to have gas and air and eventually remifentanil. Got through the labour (this part although most painful was nowhere near as traumatic as the time spent at home).
Episiotomy given and vacuum used as cord around baby's neck and baby born at 6pm wed after 50 hours back to back labour.
I was violently sick throughout established labour. I was sick in the shower afterwards and all evening after. They gave me tea and toast after.
By the time I got to the ward it was 10pm. I was starving but was told family would have to go get me some from canteen. I was completely beyond shattered. The next day the pain hit me. When I went to the toilet I noticed I was black and blue and so swollen that it looked like I had grown another bum. Sleep deprived and in pain, I hobbled my way to the shower. I hobbled out and walked like John Wayne to the desk while all the midwives sat and watched me struggle my way over tobsay the water was cold. Not once did anyone offer any help. It took me about 40 minutes to manage in the shower. I was so delirious with tiredness I didn't think to ask for help. I just saw the other women get up and go and thought this must be what recovery is like. I hadn't been given and pan relief l I asked for pain relief the next day at 3pm and midwife gave me one diclofenac. She said I'd be going home that night so to take ibuprofen at home. Already the decision was made to send me home before stitches were even checked. An hour before I ended up being discharged, midwife did a quick look and gasped saying you are very bruised and swollen. I said yea it's very sore that's why I asked for pain relief. Again, me thinking this is all very normal. So she saw how bad it was but still wasn't sent home with anything.
I went home and then the pain really kicked in. It was complete agony. Long story short stitches were infected. My recovery from labour has been horrendous. I'm only now starting to be able to sit comfortably but still paying for private physio due to pelvic floor damage and pelvic pain. So sorry for the length of this but is this normal for labour and recovery? Shouldn't I have been checked before it was decided I was being discharged? I guess I just feel that number one, by labour could have been sped up but no one ever suggested induction even though I was absolutely shattered and making no pregression up until almost 2 days later. I also feel there was no consideration given to how much trauma had occurred down below and how long the labour had been before I was kicked out.
I understand midwives are so busy. I'm a health professional myself and get the pressure and strain on the nhs. My midwife during established labour was fantastic. But I still feel anger that I was sent home the second time after I presented having had no sleep 32 hours after my contractions started. If feel like everything was played according to their rules and no consideration given to what I was truly going through and how I feel like I was really just kicked out of hospital learning to breastfeed, having gone through a prolonged labour, with a vagina that loookee like I'd pushed out a house! Maybe I'm being over sensitive. But the thought of going through something like this again terrifies me. I felt so out of control. Everything was happening to me and I hated it all but had no say in anything and such a prolonged recovery. If you've made t to the end of this I applaud you 🙈🙈 I suppose I just want to know am I just being weak or could things have been better managed?
Things could and should have been managed better. You are not weak and it's not actually ok.
I was nodding along with your story, I went through almost exactly the same labour. I am really sorry, I know how shocking the whole thing is.
,Can you ask for a debrief at the hospital with the senior midwife?
This helped me, to be sat in an office and be able to question what happened and why. To have it confirmed by a senior staff member that the way I had been 'looked after' was wrong, helped me let go of it.
Birth trauma is really minimised. As one person told me, my baby was my therapy!!
Oh yes, that'll be just the tonic, I'm shocked and injured and exhausted and now I get to look after a tiny helpless human.
Sending much sympathy your way
Thank you so much. Apologies for my bad spelling and grammar!
Yes I do hope to be able to sit down with someone and go through my notes. Now I'm on the other side of it and with hindsight, I'm kicking myself saying why didn't I ask to be induced, why didn't I demand pain relief, ask for help in the shower, ask to be checked, why didn't I know it's not actually all that normal to be so swollen that your bum extends down your whole leg 🙈 but how would I have known. Surely it's not my job as the patient to have to do any of that.
Agree with the PP that you should have a debrief session with someone reading your notes and explaining the rationale behind the decisions made for you at each stage.
Maybe an apology won’t make that much of a difference but perhaps knowing they may learn from your experience and change things for other women could help a little?
None of it is your fault and as the unknown- first time labour and birth is all new to you and you absolutely should have been cared for better.
Thank you. Having had some distance from the trauma of the labour and recovery, I think I'm only now starting to realise it probably didn't have to be that way. I probably shouldn't have been sent home the second time after 32 hours of early labour already - surely?! I know I don't have the answers to any of this, and a debrief is probably needed. Does anyone know how to go about that? Would you contact the ward directly or would it need to be arranged through gp?
I read the first part thinking, “Yup, that happens... first labour, they send you home (a lot!) and it’s normal.” But then as I read on I thought increasingly it wasn’t right - it does sound like they could have treated you better in labour and certainly afterwards. I don’t think you’re wrong to feel aggrieved by it.
Another vote for a debrief. It took me 5 years to be ready to listen to mine and I wish I'd done it sooner. No idea how to go about it though, I arranged mine during second pregnancy. Maybe call the community midwives?
I had a very similar labour. It sounds like you were back to back? Did they tell you? I was in early labour for 5 days. I was admitted at day 3 and in for 2 days before I gave birth but it was only because of heavy snow and I'm quite rural.
My birth was traumatic enough that I don't want to have another at the same hospital. I was begging to be given a c section towards the end as I was in so much pain for so long. I have dealt with a lot of it now though 10 months on.
I really suggest you talk to a midwife about your experience as it would help. I also found just talking to other mums who had been through similar helped.
I try to focus on the positives now. If I had not had the help I did, I'd have died and so would my baby. As it was, I lost a lot of blood and suffered a lot of needless pain but we are both alive and well and that's what matters.
I hope you begin to feel better
Mine was also through second pregnancy (whilst campaigning for an elective c section). Think calling community midwives is a good idea, if you don't get anywhere, I would contact the hospital directly.
@spugzbunny so sorry you went through that. Sounds just awful. Yea mine was back to back too. Long labour is so damaging for our bodies so recovery is a long slow process. Hope you're finding healing
It absolutely sounds like you could have and should have received better care.
Agree with the previous posters who have suggested a debrief. I found this very helpful when reflecting on my own birth story.
Also re you community midwife advising you are 3cms- apparently you can go back down to 2cms if you were for example stressed upon coming back to the hospital . Good luck
You poor thing. I read your whole post empathising because it was almost identical to my first and third birth (my second one was completely different- a breeze!). Third baby was back to back, was in labour for a week and they wouldn't admit me. After 3 hours of pushing, I just couldn't get him out. I was begging for an epidural or c-section. When he was finally born, I had afterpains to rival the contractions and there were no midwives in sight. It really knocked me for 6 at the time and that was as a mother of two already.
It can be fucking brutal and I think other people acknowledging that can help in itself
Similar labour here, extremely painful and intense contractions but didn't dilate. Got sent back a couple of times. Was in tremendous pain. Denied pain relief until I was at 5cm (which took ages). Stuff was missed, DS1 was struggling, heart rate 70 and born blue. Was very badly bruised and swollen. Took ages just to get some paracetamol, was ignored, told I was 'moaning' and that this was 'giving birth'
Anyway. Second one pretty much the same DESPITE me telling them exactly what happened in my first (long labour but intensive and agony). Same things happened.
3rd birth, at home. Just as painful, but I was in control.
I'm sorry for what you went through. The care in hospitals is shocking (from my experience). Think it's just another thing that women have to put up with.
None of it was your fault. You shouldn't have felt you needed to demand/ask/suggest anything. You were at your most vulnerable.
Try to concentrate on your beautiful healthy baby x
Sounds just like my awful 2nd labour... back to back babies are the worst... your aftercare sounds so bad!
I was sent home twice. I went back in after my waters broke at home. The midwife that examined me told me my waters had not broken at at all. I was wrong. She was really irritated with me. When I stood up to leave another load of water gushed out. She admitted they had broken at this point (they still sent me home again).
I guess my point is that the people who dealt with you that night are fallable and totally capable of being wrong.
There are some brilliant medical staff but it's far from a perfect system. Entering it during the birth of your first child means putting your total faith in them. You have never done this before, you have no frame of reference so everything that happens must be normal? This leap of faith makes you very vulnerable and if you are let down you need to question it and get validation.
You definitely need to not believe yourself weak. Read your story as if it was someone else, you would hardly think that woman was lacking strength would you?
@Alicia870 I'm lucky that my recovery was fast. Once the iron tablets kicked in for the blood loss I was back to normal quite quickly. My stitches healed well and the only lasting effect is some piles that keep popping up
The mental healing will come I promise you. Maybe try a post natal yoga or Pilates class? I went to one that you can take your baby to and it really helped me to spend time getting my body back together and speak with other mums.
I'm so sorry you went through that, it sounds awful. I would also encourage you to have a debrief- I had one at around 4 months and found it really helped.
so sorry for what you went through. First baby was similar. Ended up with suction and forceps. His head was so swollen and bruised for about two weeks after. I couldn't sit for ages.
Thank you all so much for the support. When I was writing this I honestly thought oh no some people are gonna say - yep, that's childbirth. Deal with it. I know childbirth is tough. But something just feels wrong about what happened compared to other women and their experiences. It's so comforting to know I'm not alone and to almost have permission to feel upset about this. Thanks so much
So sorry you went through this. I could cry at your story. I had an awful first Labour, flashbacks and the guilt, the midwife who looked after me during birth was awful, as was the midwives after. I did go for a birth debrief too, which I brought up all of my concerns, and it helped to know I was listened to.
On the plus side, I had my 2nd baby 5 years later, and having that baby was utterly fantastic, birth was amazing as were the midwives. I felt better as I knew what to expect and knew how to deal with it all, and I was in control.
So light at the end of the tunnel. But please go for the debrief, it really helps.
I’m a midwife, while some of your care (particularly the postnatal care) sounds poor the reason they send you home in early labour is because research shows that your labour progress better when in your own environment and that gives you a better chance of having a normal delivery.
The simple act of coming into hospital raises your adrenaline which counteracts the oxytocin you need for your labour to progress, which you experienced yourself with your contractions stopping when you got to the hospital.
It sounds like you had a long latent phase and that’s tough but honestly being in hospital wouldn’t have made it any easier, you wouldn’t have gotten any more sleep and research says it would have slowed the progress you were making.
Normal, yes. Acceptable, no. The NHS is in crisis and unfortunately many women have had a similar experience to you.
@CatchingBabies I do appreciate that and was aware of that at the time. However how long is normal to wait until inducing labour in a case where it is so prolonged and the mother is under so much stress? I'm not being confrontational I just genuinely don't understand. I can't see how in my case being in home helped at all. I felt scared, traumatised, exhausted, and still when I was finally admitted, I was still only 2 dilated. I know sometimes a long latent phase happens but it really was so traumatic and I just wonder why nothing was done tonspeed it up? surely the pressure on the pelvic floor for so long is partly why I have so much damage that may be irreparable, costing the nhs further drain and money in the future from my problems now.I'm sure midwives do have well evidenced reasons for their practices but I just don't understand
Catching what about the fact there is no access to pain relief? Or that the fact that an exhausted, sleep deprived woman won't have the energy to cope with active labour? Does that not have an effect on intervention or anything?
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