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To still struggle after hospital?

7 replies

dumpling123 · 06/05/2021 16:07

Hi all,

So this might be a long one! My baby is 10 months old, born during the height of the pandemic. Partner was allowed in for the birth and that was it. I was induced and felt very isolated and alone in the hospital. I'm usually quite assertive but with hormones and all of the uncertainty I struggled during my time in hospital.
Following the birth, Baby and I had to stay in hospital for a number of days due to a frozen bladder. I had little guidance from the hospital with regard to this until about 5 days into my stay when a doctor saw how distressed I was and organised for me to be allowed home with a catheter. Baby and I were allowed home for a few days before another 3 day stint in hospital. My husband wasn't allowed to visit at all and this upset me hugely as I was alone with a new baby who couldn't see his dad for a significant period during the first two weeks of his life.

I know that all of the other women who had babies at this time suffered just as I did. I've tried really hard to just carry on and we have done that as a family unit. I know that I'm blessed as baby and myself are both healthy and well.

We would like to have a second child. While I'd love my baby to have a sibling, the thoughts of another birth and hospital experience fills me with absolute dread. I found internal examinations painful and felt like an inconvenience to doctors who were rushed off their feet. The thoughts of being near the hospital causes me to burst into tears, never mind actually being admitted and having to go through everything again without my husband. I know that I should just be brave and carry on but even discussions on the news about maternity wards reopening to visitors causes me to get very upset.
On top of all of this, I'm struggling to be intimate with my husband as any form of intimacy is causing me to feel hugely uncomfortable with flashbacks to my time in hospital. Husband is amazing, very understanding and placing absolutely no pressure on me whatsoever but I know that it's frustrating for him too.

I don't know what to do or how to move past this. I've tried so hard to just decide to leave it in the past but am really struggling. I don't really know what I'm looking for by posting here, maybe just other people to share their experiences and tell me that it'll all be ok? I made a data access request to the hospital and reading back through my notes helped me to process some of my experience but these feelings still haven't gone away. I reached out to the hospital perinatal mental health unit who told me that too much time had passed since my discharge and I wasn't on their books anymore.

I'm putting a brave face on it and just carrying on but I don't know how to move past my experience. I'm coping fine in day-to-day life, it's just when I think about hospital, potentially having another baby or being intimate.

How can I move past this?

If you've read all of my post, thank you so much!

OP posts:

Am I being unreasonable?


You have one vote. All votes are anonymous.

saoirse31 · 06/05/2021 16:33

Could you get some counselling for your anxiety, might help how you feel. Also, I'd imagine all going well that 9 months time covid won't be a concern or certainly not any more of a concern than say the flu so you could be fairly confident your partner can be with you all the time you're in hospital. I hope all goes well for you and your family


PerspicaciousGreen · 06/05/2021 17:35

I too had a traumatic first birth. I am now pregnant with #3! And my second birth was a very healing and empowering experience.

I haven't got time to get into details, but basically I was so focused on the awfulness of my PND that I didn't really even think about the birth until I was pregnant with #2 and found myself in floods of tears thinking about it. I was referred to a birth trauma specialist (by the perinatal MH team as I was pregnant, but in theory could have been by GP or similar) and we talked through my last birth and tried to work out together what would make me feel better for my coming birth. The consultant offered me a C section due to past birth trauma but I declined, but did ask to be induced at 40 weeks and was on the list for that - only baby arrived by herself at 39+1! All the midwives took my MH care plan very seriously and honestly in the end I barely needed them to do anything different but it made such a huge difference seeing them read it and react to it.

Three top tips, and very happy to answer any questions:

  1. You can have a subjectively very traumatising experience without actually experiencing clinical negligence. If you feel traumatised, that's the relevant fact here.

2. We moved house so my second pregnancy was at a different hospital. Can you move hospitals? We didn't do it on purpose, but I'm sure it helped to not have to physically revisit the scene.
3. Birth trauma specialist. I'm not sure how you'd best be referred now, but start by asking your GP. Such a valuable experience, really life-changing for me.

PerspicaciousGreen · 06/05/2021 17:37

Very very happy to answer questions or give further advice, either here or by PM. Ask anything - if it's too personal, I can just say "no comment"! This is something you deserve help with. Help is out there if you can figure out the pathway to access it and work out how to make the most of it.


stripey1 · 06/05/2021 18:20

I understand NHS hospitals normally have a service called birth review or birth reflections where you can talk through what happened and your concerns for future births with a dr or midwife who has access to your notes, might be worth enquiring?


dumpling123 · 06/05/2021 19:37

Thank you all so much for taking the time to reply to me, I really appreciate it.

I think even knowing that it's ok to have called my experience traumatic is really helpful rather then telling myself that I just have to suck it up and get on with it. It's as if it gives my feelings validity rather than bottling or refusing to allow myself to acknowledge them.

I've contacted the Birth Reflections section in hospital to arrange an appointment so hopefully that will help to give me some understanding and a feeling of self-control.

It's really interesting to hear about your mental health birth plan PerspicaciousGreen - I didn't know that you could have one put in place and that they'd actually read it and follow it. If you don't mind me asking, what kinds of things could you list on it? I didn't have any kind of a birth plan as I really hadn't a clue what to expect, hospital team didn't encourage or suggest one and even if I had a plan, it all would have worked out differently.

To be fair to the hospital, they were severely understaffed and couldn't reach on everyone's need on the wards. I didn't experience any clinical negligence and ironically the birth part was the easiest part of my whole situation once I had epidural and husband was allowed in as I felt that I had some kind of support.
Maybe it's about feeling a total loss of control and not having an advocate to provide emotional support when I was at my most vulnerable.

Hospital were very focused on the physical aspects of birth and recovery- would be great to hear about how people took control back for later births. I'll look into a birth trauma specialist after my birth reflections appointment to help me through this. This is really helpful, thank you!

OP posts:

PerspicaciousGreen · 06/05/2021 20:19

@dumpling123 Sent you a PM.


Darkstar4855 · 06/05/2021 22:19

I’m sorry you’ve been struggling so much. This sounds to me like PTSD which is surprisingly common after a traumatic birth. It’s not something you can just “move past” so please don’t be afraid to seek help. There are some very effective treatments, for example CBT and EMDR. I would advise contacting your GP for referral or googling local mental health services to see if you can self-refer directly.

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