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Tuesday Birth Story – Long road to recovery!

January 10th. 2017 | Leave a comment

I had tried to prepare myself as best I could for the birth, I had done the Bump Room classes, read the books and even been on a birth preparation course but as everyone who’s had a baby knows, nothing can fully prepare you for it.
My waters broke without warning at 9.30 am that morning, no pains or twinges before or after.  I rang the hospital and they advised  me to come in to be monitored.  My husband and I drove in, we were monitored for a few hours and then told to go home and if nothing happened by 6am the next morning to make our way back to the hospital.  My pains started at 10 that night.  I had the tens machine and started to use that and tried to follow the advice of labouring at home for as much as possible.  However, my contractions were coming thick and fast and before I knew it they were only 2.5 mins apart.  So in we went to the maternity around 12am.
Everything proceeded well throughout the night, I was given an epidural at 3cm as my contractions were coming with no break and I was comfortable for the first stage.  By 8am I was fully dilated but my baby’s head wasn’t down far enough to push.  I was put on oxytocin for an hour to try bring her down further.  After the hour I began to push.  After 20mins there had been no progress.  My midwife went to get a senior midwife, she came in and I pushed again for another 45-50 mins to no avail.  At this point I was absolutely exhausted.  Thankfully my baby was calm throughout all of this and had not got in to any distress.  At this point the senior midwife called for a doctor who came in and said we would have to have an assisted delivery.  They tried the ventouse three times and still baby wouldn’t come.  The junior doctor then called for a registrar.  She came in and explained she would have to perform a forceps delivery and asked for my consent to an episiotomy.  I gave my consent and within twenty minutes our baby was born.
When I was handed her I was shocked to see that there was angry looking circle where the skin had been removed from her scalp from the ventouse.  It looked so painful for her little head. I was stitched up but given no pain relief as the doctor said I couldn’t be given Difene on account of previous stomach problems.  I explained I had taken Difene since then and had no reaction to it.  However, they said I would be prescribed something else by the doctor in the recovery ward.  I was taken up to the ward but by now the epidural was wearing off.  There was no doctor on the ward and so I was given no pain relief.  I was in agony but the nurses couldn’t give me anything other than Nurofen.  What should have been a lovely time for my husband and I with our new baby was instead me crying out in pain and not even being able to hold our little girl. My husband tried to get the doctor but he had been called to an emergency.  Our baby was born at 12.51 that day and it was almost 7pm before the doctor got to me to administer proper pain relief.  Once that kicked in I was able to go for a shower and freshen up and more importantly hold my baby.
I was pretty incontinent in the days afterwards and had little or no feeling of my pelvic floor muscle.  The physio was sent up to me and her advice was to do kegels, I explained that I really couldn’t feel anything when I tried them but she told me to give it time.
I went home after three nights in hospital and was given Garfloc and suppositories going home.  I was told to take panadol for any pain. Sitting and standing were both as uncomfortable as the other.  I had very bad hemorrhoids from all the pushing and when we went back for the heel prick test the nurse told my husband to hold the baby and said that I looked awful.  She checked my notes and saw that I had been given no prescription despite a forceps delivery.  She immediatley wrote out a slip and sent my husband to a dispensary in the hospital to collect it.
My recovery was extremely slow, I just didn’t feel right and was still having stress incontinence.  The hemorrhoids were not improving either.  My PHN was very supportive and advised me to ring to be checked over by my consultant.  I rang the hospital but I was told that I would have to go to my GP.
Other new mums I had met were all saying that they were recovering well, other experienced mums were saying that 6 weeks was the magic mark to get to.  I felt I was going backwards.  My GP checked me at the 6 weeks, she wasn’t happy with a few things including my stitches  and advised me to go to a women’s health physio.  Luckily there is one near where I live and I was able to get an appointment within the month.  It turned out I had a prolapse and a rectocele.  My PHN was still visiting me, she had been a midwife before and she advised me to write a letter of complaint to the hospital and the HSE.  I wasn’t sure but she said she was worried about my own well being as I seemed to be very down about my recovery, she said this would turn to anger and it was best to vent it now.
I took her advise and wrote the letter.  This resulted in a meeting with my consultant and the nurse manager.  I was very nervous about meeting them so I contacted a girl from school who is a midwife and asked her advise on the delivery.  She was able to tell me that some things were done exactly as they should have been and that others were not, particularly post delivery care. My husband and I went to the meeting, it was our first time seeing our consultant since my 39 week scan.
The meeting went well, both the consultant and the nurse began by saying that they took the letter very seriously and that they were disappointed at my experience in the hospital.  We did state at the beginning that we just wanted to point out some failings we experienced, we weren’t looking for anything else apart from some answers.  We said we knew that ultimately we had a healthy baby and that was paramount.
  • We did have to push a few things, the consultant tried to say that babies are often marked from a ventouse but once I showed him the picture of our baby’s head and asked him was that the result of best practice he conceeded that it was a very extreme mark.


  • They also accepted that the level of care a consultant offers at semi private level needed to be made a lot clearer in their paperwork.  We had understood that a consultant would be on hand if an assisted delivery was required. (Instead I had a junior doctor attempt the ventouse and a registrar perform the forceps delivery.)  Apparently this is not the case.


  • We asked why women who have forceps deliveries were not given extra follow up care given the damage it can do to the pelvic floor.  As it turned out, the hospital did give free post natal physio to those who needed it for up to 12 months after birth.  I hadn’t been told any of this and had been paying for private physio care.  (I was set up with an appointment accordingly)


  • They apologised profusely for the fact that I had been given no pain relief for 5 hours after the epidural had worn off and said that there was no excuse, that the doctor should have sent up a prescription with me to the recovery ward.


  • The consultant said that he would understand if I “never wanted to set foot in the hospital again” after my experience but he assured me that if we did have another baby they would welcome the opportunity to provide a much better experience.  Alternatively, if we chose to go elsewhere, the hospital would provide any supporting documentation to ensure a positive labour experience.


  • We concluded the meeting by saying that we were in no way critical of the nursing staff who did their very best in a very busy working environment.


I felt so much better in myself after the meeting.  I was stressed about it going in, I felt we were going to have to justify every point we had but that wasn’t the case.  I felt listened to for the first time by the hospital.  My PHN was right, it was something I needed to get off my chest and it allowed me to concentrate on my own recovery.  My advise to anyone else who experiences something similar is to speak up for yourself.

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