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Horrific birth experience causing PTSD

23 replies

birdy990 · 03/12/2021 09:25

I’m a first time mum and I’m very bitter about my horrific birth experience because it has halted any plans for expanding our family.

I want to talk about it and get some perspective and hear others experiences as it has honestly left me with PTSD.

So to start I had to be induced at 40+3 as it was suspected my placenta was failing due to slow growth between weeks 37-40.

I went in on the Friday night and was given a propess, let me start by saying the midwife who inserted that thing was the roughest mf I have ever had touch me and it felt like she had just inserted barbed wire. She also insisted on putting the whole thing up inside me rather than leave the string hanging out.
21 hours passed by and my contractions have started but I’ve only progressed from 1cm to 2cm so by 24 hours it’s decided that I am given another one but by this point I am already getting pretty uncomfortable contractions that I have to start to brace myself for every 5-7 minutes.
So… in the middle of these contractions a different midwife comes in to remove the first propess and insert the new one. She tells me it must have fell out as it’s not there, I tell her it definitely is as I had been checking all day to make sure it hadn’t fell out or gone down the toilet, this meant she was digging around in my vagina/cervix trying to find it while convinced it’s not there. After much searching she finally finds it only to say that the whole thing including the string that’s supposed to be used to pull it out has been shoved so far into my cervix she cannot reach it, so she goes to get a male doctor with longer fingers.
He arrives and says the same thing, can’t reach it so they go and get a speculum to open me up and look right inside.
Speculum inserted they look and find that neither of them can reach it still and they will have to go over to another ward and get some TWEEZERS to get it out.
This may I add again is all in between me having contractions….
Finally they get the first propess out and I reluctantly brace myself for that second bit of barbed wire, only to find the second midwife was so gentle I hardly felt anything, leaving me wondering why the hell I was put through so much pain the first time, oh and the string was left out this time?!?!
This was done by 2:30am and by 4am I was having strong contractions 5 mins apart. At 4:45am my waters break and the contractions really start to ramp up.
At this point I ask for something to help with the pain and was given codeine and paracetamol, 30 seconds after taking it I threw it up and was told I cannot have anything else for 5 hours as they don’t know how much my body had absorbed, nothing else was offered.
By about 7am my contractions are 1-1:30mins long and every 2 mins and do not stop, meanwhile I have been throwing up every bit of liquid I try and drink so I’m starting to get dehydrated so I’m given an anti-sickness injection that doesn’t work.
12 midday comes and the 5 hour wait is over, I ask for some more pain relief and again I’m given codeine and paracetamol, same thing happens I throw those up too, I’m told no more pain relief and given yet another anti-sickness injection that also doesn’t work…
5pm arrives and I am honestly delirious at this point, my contractions have been 2 mins apart for over 12 hours with no pain relief, the equivalent of transition contractions where my stomach is contorted that much you can see the outline of my baby with the other side of my stomach flat as a board because the contractions are so strong. At this point I demand diamorphene but I’m told I can’t have it as my fetal movements have slowed down. I’m also given another anti sickness injection that works only slightly. By this point however, it’s been 13 hours since I’ve had any fluids and I’m very dehydrated but no drip is offered.

After labouring for 13 hours I have only progressed to 3cm and by now my baby is looking distressed so I have to lay on my left side and drink orange juice to try and wake her up which took over an hour before I could have the diamorphine.

I am left for another 3 hours at which point I tell the midwives I cannot do this anymore and want an epidural. It was also decided that because I am only 3cm I will also go on the hormone drip.

It is now 10pm and I’m given the IV fluids before my epidural, which as it’s now been 17 hours since having any fluids I am severely dehydrated and they can’t find a vein, therefore my hands are flipping mutilated by a woman trying to wriggle a needle around under my skin to find my vein, this doesn’t work so they have to get the anaesthetist to come in and try in my other hand.

Once this is done I’m fitted with a catheter and told I have blood in my wee, yeah no S** Sherlock…

So once I have the epidural I’m put on the hormone drip and after 3.5 hours it’s found that my baby is getting very distressed, with her heart rate plummeting to 70 beats per minute with every contraction. At this point I am almost demanding a c section as I want her out as clearly she isn’t happy. The midwife checks my cervix and tells me I am now 4cm so if I want to continue I can still try for a natural birth.
The midwife left the room and I spoke to my husband and said I am having this c section and I’m not messing around anymore and if they don’t do it I’ll withdraw all consent for them to continue with the induction and they’ll have to give me one.
Thankfully after persisting it was agreed that a C Section would be done.

Unfortunately the horror doesn’t end there…

After speaking to the anaesthetist he said he was going to give me a full spinal for the c section rather than just a top up of the epidural as that way it will be fully effective… well it wasn’t… far from it.

After lying down on the table I tell him I can still feel almost everything, I could feel them pinching my skin and I could still lift both legs.
At this point the surgeon started cutting and although I couldn’t directly feel the cutting pain, it still hurt. The anaesthetist told the surgeon to stop so he could put me under as he was worried but he was told it was too late…

It was at this point the surgeon saw that my babies head was deeply impacted in my pelvis and it was an emergency to get her out. All of a sudden there are two people pushing and pulling me from side to side on the table and I can feel both their hands inside me and my babies head being pushed further down in my pelvis and into my vagina, which turned out was one of their hands inside my vagina pushing my baby back up inside my belly. This is getting more and more painful but apparently a procedure that had to be done. At this point I lose all composure and I’m screaming at the top of my voice and I’m going into full on panic attack.

The second my baby was out in given a mask and told to breathe in the gas deeply so they can knock me out, this doesn’t work either and instead I’m left with burning lungs and my heart is now killing me, presumably because it’s doing about 500 beats per minute.

Eventually I’m knocked out by something the anaesthetist injects me with and my husband is left to take care of the baby while I’m stitched up and wheeled back into the room to wake up.

My baby Savannah-Rose was born at 2:34am and I’m finally awake and cognisant by 6am over 50 hours after starting the induction process.

I am now left with a host of side effects, PTSD being one of them (not diagnosed may I add but I’m getting flashbacks none the less)
My bladder and bowel are bruised and it hurts to go to the toilet, I’ve got nerve damage in my back from the 2 injections which makes me jitter and see flashing lights if I lay in an awkward position, my C Section scar is big and is quite a mess from all the pulling and tugging to get baby out and that’s the bits I know about.

I want to know why I was left for so long in so much pain and why no one thought that the intensity or frequency of my contractions was abnormal. This is why lead to my babies head getting stuck in my pelvis and while I am so unbelievably grateful she is here safe and well, the severity of complications that could have arose due to her head being stuck and her distress coming from her skull being compressed rather than it being her umbilical cord are just unthinkable. I panic at the thought of me not pushing for the C Section and what could have happened if I hadn’t, she might have ended up disabled for life or even worse died.
My pain tolerance now is shot after all those hours and experiencing pain like I do when I go to the toilet full on sends me into involuntary panic mode and I shake and cry with my body thinking it is going through that ordeal again, which although is getting better through me focusing on coping mechanisms really does take its toll.

Sorry for the long post but I just needed a place to write this and get it off me chest.

OP posts:
October2020 · 03/12/2021 09:31

I'm so sorry you had such a traumatic experience. You will find EMDR really helpful. Contact your perinatal mental health team for support.

You may also find following 'the birth trauma mama' on Instagram very helpful.

This will get easier than it is now, but it won't go away unfortunately. You deserve to receive support for the after effects of what happened to you xx

GingerAndTheBiscuits · 03/12/2021 09:31

Ask the hospital for a birth debrief with someone not involved with the case. Friends have also had success with EMDR through the local postnatal mental health team for PTSD following traumatic births. That all sounds horrendous and you deserve answers.

turnthebiglightoff · 03/12/2021 09:31

I understand that this must have been very difficult for you; however many many millions of women have difficult labours. My own induction was 67 hours (48 hours active labour) and although I ended up with a ventouse & forceps birth not an EMCS, it was fairly traumatic and I suffered significant post birth injuries. Without trying to dismiss your experience, I put mine down to a tricky labour, which no one could have foreseen.

I absolutely wouldn't be induced again, but I am largely at peace with mine & am actually pregnant again.

You are able to have a meeting with a midwife to go over your notes, I think you need to contact your midwife team to organise this. Beast of luck.

October2020 · 03/12/2021 09:36

@turnthebiglightoff what an invalidating thing to say! We don't say 'oh well lots of people die of cancer so another death isn't sad'.

Everybody's trauma is valid. Everyone deserves help to heal.

CasaBonita · 03/12/2021 09:44

So sorry to hear this happened to you. I also had a traumatic birth and it took a while to get over the emotional and physical scars.

7 years on and whilst I feel good now, it put me off having any more children.

I think you just need to give it time, be kind to yourself, surround yourself with people who are going to take care of you. Possibly make a complaint in the future but don't rush to do anything right now if you don't feel up to it.

whoknew23 · 03/12/2021 09:44

That sounds horrific!

I had a terrible induction and for that reason I will never have another child.

ANameChangeAgain · 03/12/2021 09:54

I'm sorry you went through this op. Ill be honest and tell you I didn't read your whole post as i started to feel dizzy just at the thought of it all. I thought my (relatively normal) labour was bad enough, and I've also heard some horror stories, but nothing as bad as this. I'm not surprised you are suffering with trauma as a result. I hope you can get the help you need, and that it hasn't affected your baby, or your bonding with your baby? Flowers

train84 · 03/12/2021 09:59

You poor thing, that sounds awful. I had a traumatic birth too and got flashbacks for quite a while after. I had a de brief which helped so much and the flashbacks and trauma faded over time. I loved having a newborn so much but always said I'd never do it again purely because of the birth. She's now 3 and although we're not thinking of having another anytime soon, if at all, I don't feel that dread when I think about it anymore about labour and giving birth. You need time and to talk about your experience. I found it helped so much to talk about it as it almost desensitised me and it was easier to process. Time healed me, honestly, you will get to a point when you don't even give it headspace, and as your baby grows and starts hitting milestones, they will replace the thoughts. It will get better in time, I know, I've been there. Look after yourself 🙂

TheOriginalMrsBagwell · 03/12/2021 10:01

I'm so sorry you went through this OP. It is not right that you are suffering still. I had an awful first birth which effected me for a long time. I couldn't talk about it without crying, or see or hear anything about pregnancy without being effected. I felt utterly violated and let down and treated like a piece of meat. I also was very disappointed in my husband as I felt he should have advocated more strongly for me (which I acknowledge is unfair as we were both out of our depth and trusted in the professionals). I found EMDR very helpful, as well as a full birth debrief. Reach out for some help. There is a Birth Trauma Association which may also be a source of support and information:

colouringindoors · 03/12/2021 10:05

Omg OP that all sounds utterly horrific. So, so sorry you went through all that. I also ended up with ptsd snd severe injuries from my dds birth 17 years ago.

There's a charity I've come across recently that are great. Also used to be o e specifically around childbirth trauma

as other have said EMDR can be very helpful for ptsd. I would ask for a copy of your medical notes. Focus on recovering now but you may want to make a complaint about your care in the future.

Speak to your GP if you haven't already so the trauma and injuries are on your notes. Request counselling.


colouringindoors · 03/12/2021 10:06

Oh and not something you'll be thinking about now, but as a result of what happened with dd birth, i requested an elective ceasarean with ds 3.5 years later. It was a very positive experience.

Lemonysherbet · 03/12/2021 10:14

Oh op, I'm not surprised you have PTSD, what a lot to deal with!

I had a traumatic birth (also had a midwife insert a propess quite brutally and with being left to labour to 9cm on the antenatal ward before they would examine me and let my husband join (may 2020!) Resulting in a forceps delivery.

I did a birth reflection session where they talk through the birth. It was the most incredible thing and really helped me come to terms with things. I also spoke to anyone who would listen about my birth story. Chatting it through was so cathartic.

I now have an 18 month old and feel much less pained about my birth and could probably have another in the next year.

I hope you get the support you need

EmpressCixi · 03/12/2021 10:21

I’m so sorry your birth was traumatic. I don’t think they could have known from your contractions as to me, they actually sounded pretty normal but tending on the side of lower frequency compared to how my contractions were. I’m a bit miffed they had you lying in bed, as labouring upright can increase your pelvic opening by up to 30% reducing the chances of what happened- your baby’s head becoming stuck. I’m also furious for you that they kept offering you pain relief that they knew you would throw up immediately. They should have offered you gas and air after the first time you threw up the codeine. So not only did you go without pain relief, they knowingly made you nauseous and sick on top of being in labour. The first nurse and the pessary being jammed in too high was dehumanising and a violation. Just very traumatic the whole thing and shows a complete lack of care for you. I agree you probably have PTSD from this.

But you should go and get mental health assessment and care. PTSD is very difficult to overcome by yourself. I have been diagnosed with PTSD and did EMDR which was hard work as you have to go and relive everything but was worth it because the flashbacks are now less distressing and I have a better relationship with what happened and no longer blame myself for any of it. So, go and get help. You don’t have to suffer alone.

Minorissue · 03/12/2021 10:25

I am so sorry you went through this. Horrendous. The first half of your experience was almost exactly the same as mine. I ended with forceps/episiotomy and sepsis in me and baby afterwards. I also had/have ptsd and am about to give birth To my second DC after much delay due to secondary tokophobia. I think the birth reflections/birth afterthoughts service can be helpful as you will get a midwife to discuss your medical record with and they are a bit more open to criticism . I’ve booked in to that as I can’t help but replay what happened over and over in my head and I get tear filled rage. I’m getting an elective section this time and find that when I see a new consultant/midwife etc and they get a bit judgey and ‘just because it happened the first time doesn’t mean it will happen the second’ I just cry with anger as they just don’t get it. All I can say is that having the reflections meeting and dissecting what happened has made me more informed of my choices and ‘getting angry’ is helping me advocate for exactly what is going to happen this time around so I don’t get railroaded down induction and intervention hell again.

MyOtherCarIsAPorsche · 03/12/2021 10:27

I'm am so sorry that you experienced such trauma.

My daughter suffered in a similar way. Additionally, her baby was in NICU for 6 weeks at the start of the first lockdown.

She was diagnosed with PTSD and had counselling sessions over Zoom.

This helped her immensely.

I am sure that, reaching out for help, you will find some comfort and resolution.

Her daughter is now 20 months old and she's planning her second - which she said she could never contemplate a year ago.

Support and time will heal you.

ImJustMum · 03/12/2021 10:31

Left in hospital for days as there was no room in nicu or labour ward for me, kept threatening to send me home despite being strep b postive and 34weeks with waters completely gone. I asked if i could move hospital and magically they found room. I was put on the drip to induce me which was nothing short of horrific, it was forced and utter agony. They bullied me into an epdiural i did not want and waited until i was out of it to shove a form under my nose, to which i have no recollection of signing. They missed, SEVEN TIMES. 8 years on i still have issues with my back. My son was born, fine luckily but whipped straight off to nicu, i saw him for 30 seconds. The midwife pulled the cord which promptly snapped and i then had a man elbow deep in my womb digging around for placenta, then repeated by another doctor. All i remember is seeing them up to their elbows in blood and i was writhing and screaming in pain because the epidural did not work as i tried to explain, it doesnt work on me. I was then taken to surgery where the surgeon had to give me a max dose of the epidural, it still wasnt working but when i was told id have to have a spinal block, i lied and said it had worked as i couldn't bare it anymore. I promptly fell asleep from exhaustion on the operating table and woke my self up snoring with them sniggering at me which was utterly mortifying. I was dumped on the ward, curtains left open, alone with the woman next to mes kids swinging off the end of my bed. My catheter leaked, it took 4 hours for anyone to do anything and left me in it. They wouldnt remove said catheter until i drank more but left me paralysed in a bed with no way of getting any water. The blood i got on the floor was there until i left. 12 hours after asking to see my son, i dragged myself out of the bed because they all kept saying theyd come back and never did. The ward i was on was as far away from nicu as you could get, and i walked with a smashed up back, i had no idea where he was or which baby was even mine. He spent his 1st 12 hours in this world alone and in a box. I begged to go home that evening and they left me waiting until gone midnight until i fell asleep, they changed my iv line in my hand rather than remove it, all done without my permission as i was pretty much comatose. I wasnt fed as i kept being forgotten and i marched out the next day. It was horrific

Gotofriggingsleep · 03/12/2021 10:37

So sorry for your experience. I also had a long drawn out traumatic birth that left me with stress incontinence and uterine prolapses. I was also in an abusive marriage and had a serious incapacitating injury when my daughter was a couple of months old. The perfect shit storm for severe PND and PTSD.

I sought help from the Health Visitor. I had a birth debrief with a specialist midwife which helped me understand what had actually happened. I was referred to a women's health physio to help with my physical issues, later I had surgery.

Most importantly I was referred to the perinatal mental health service. I received psychotherapy and EMDR treatment, plus medication. If I hadn't got that support (enhanced by my husband leaving me) then I worry that I would have given in to the suicidal feelings that I was having. I loved my child and cared for her well but life felt so very dark.

Fast forward a few years and I went on to have a second child with my new (much improved!) husband. I had a Consultant led pregnancy and birth and it was the polar opposite of my first experience. Be kind to yourself, the feelings and memories fade but do seek help with processing what has happened.

Hoplop · 03/12/2021 10:42

Sorry your experience was traumatic. Counselling and a debrief are good ideas to help with the recovery.

Just as an aside - how long ago was the birth? Only asking because I had pain so horrific when peeing after my c-section that I would cry at the thought of going. I had several urine and then kidney infections in quick succession. It might be worth checking with your gp that there isn’t an infection causing it.

BlusteringBoobies · 03/12/2021 10:48

@turnthebiglightoff What an unhelpful, dismissive and patronising post. Completely undermines the OPs feelings.

OP, I also had a traumatic first birth/induction where I begged for a c section after contracting with no pain relief for 4 days. My son was delivered by forceps in the end and far less dramatic than yours and it affected me a lot.

As others have said, you absolutely should seek PTSD counselling and I'm shocked the hospital didn't offer it to you.

I am now weeks away from having number 2 and I had a lot of panic attacks early on at the thought of going through something similar. I raised this early on with the hospital and have had a lot of support and additional meetings
-PTSD counselling was offered
-I met with a specialist midwife on inductions to talk through ways we can make the next time better (I know I will be induced again due to health reasons)
-Had a meeting with head anaesthetist and her team to discuss pain relief (I had failed epidurals). We now have a plan a,b and c written and agreed with timings at points in the birth
-Met with head midwife to talk through the poor care I received. Agreed a more senior midwife would be present next time to oversee
-I spent 2 hours going over my 200 pages of notes with a birth reflections specialist. We went point by point, I cried, she sympathised, she talked through why decisions were made and agreed and noted the points where decision making was poor. This was by far the most useful thing I did and very cathartic
-It has been agreed this labour will be consultant led
-my DH and I have a meeting with senior obstetrician the week before I'm due to be induced to go through point by point the medical plan, contingencies, who to raise concerns with and the cut off at which point I am listened to when I want a c section

The point of me listing the above is that all of this should be available to you should you want to expand your family. I now feel more confident and in control than I actually did the first time around. So it is absolutely possible to come out the other side but it sounds like the first thing for you is some counselling and then to go over your labour with someone who has access to your notes.

I really wish you the best and you are absolutely entitled to your feelings and should make sure you are heard by the hospital.

BlusteringBoobies · 03/12/2021 10:49

And @birdy990 you are well within your rights if you do decide to expand your family at a later date to say you'd like a planned c section and not have to fight for it. My sister had a planned c section the second time around for multiple reasons and it was a much calmer experience (albeit a longer recovery).

Saoirsesersha · 03/12/2021 10:58

First off OP, I’m so sorry you had such an awful experience. Reading that made me tear up a little, it sounds horrific and I can’t even imagine how you must feel.

Secondly @turnthebiglightoff, did you even read the whole post??? Yes many many women have traumatic and scary births....but this is another level. Stop invalidating OP just because you are fine about your DC’s birth. This thread isn’t about you.

jingletits44 · 03/12/2021 13:03

Sounds horrific. I have already specified that I would like an elective caesarean if I have to be induced. You rarely hear of induction births going smoothly. I had an emergency c section with my first and it was traumatic and scary but nothing compared to what you went through. I would love a natural, straightforward birth but nobody can guarantee that so right now I'm undecided about what to have.

MrsMiddleMother · 04/12/2021 21:34

Im sorry I have no advice, just wanted to say I'm so sorry for what you went through. That's absolutely horrific. Please have a maternity debrief and put in a formal complaint against the hospital. This cannot happen to another woman.

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