Protecting human rights in childbirth

Do you have experience of significant harm in maternity care?

Birthrights is involved in an important research study about open disclosure in maternity care that is currently looking for lay Steering Group members.

Birthrights Programmes Director, Maria Booker, is a co-investigator on the study (called DISCERN), led by Kings College London, looking at why some NHS Trusts are particularly good at being open with women and their families who have suffered significant harm during their maternity care. The objective of the study is to ensure that this good practice can be spread to other Trusts.

The study is currently looking for two members of the public to sit on its Steering Group, who have had experience of significant harm directly or to a family member, during birth, and who may have been involved in discussing what happened with healthcare professionals. The main criteria is a strong interest in open disclosure and using your experience to improve practice. You can find out more about the study here, and a role description and contact details for the DISCERN team here. The closing date is the 16th August. Please do spread the word!

7 thoughts on “Do you have experience of significant harm in maternity care?”

  1. During my last pregnancy my epidural procedure went terribly wrong.
    The needle shattered my disc and fragments of disc started severing into my spinal cord.
    Unfortunately there are zero spinal surgeons at the hospital I was giving birth at, & nobody qualified to know if the procedure had gone wrong.

    From the moment I had the epidural the left side of my body started having serious issues, I couldn’t pick up my newborn baby

    I went to the walk-in gp clinic every day and had visited the accident emergency department many times

    Each and every time I was misdiagnosed, with injuries such as…a hamstring.
    Eventually I collapsed and had emergency surgeries at a different hospital

    I spent almost another year unable to stand alone or walk or use my left side.

    I lost my child during all this, because of the amount of doctors giving different diagnosis, I was told by all departments my injury was made up and essentially I was lying about being injured.

    When I collapsed it took a further three weeks of being an inpatient to receive the much needed MRI
    I came very close to losing my life
    The surgeon that fixed my spine said he’d never seen or Heard of anything like my case before
    There are zero hostels or refuge placements in Cumbria that accept severely disabled women, which was what I’d become, no hope of my child being returned because I couldn’t even get medical care or help to learn how to physically pick up my son or help to physically be rehabilitated with him

    So I dedicated my future to both raising awareness on this subject and also trying to achieve a facility of some sort that can help vulnerable women in this situation in regards to housing and care with children

    I found professionals would rather ignore what happened than to deal with it.

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  2. I was given an episiotomy without consent and a ventouse delivery. I suffered from PTSD as a result (probably PND but was never diagnosed) and have had 2 surgeries to repair damage sustained during the birth. I have had counselling x2, physio x 4 and medication. I am still suffering from anxiety and bouts of depression.

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  3. Should also have added I did complain to the NHS trust involved and felt that no one took me seriously. I was patronised and made to feel like I was making a fuss. My life has been significantly changed by this experience. There were lots of health professionals in the room when my trauma took place and not one spoke to me. Four years on I am still processing and dealing with what happened. If someone had spoken to me and explained what was happening and respected me as a person I strongly believe I would not have suffered the trauma that I did.

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    • This is awful to hear Vicki – so sorry to hear what happened to you. All our work is directed to making sure this does not continue to happen to women – unfortunately is is still far too common.

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  4. My baby is about to turn 1 and I still find my birth experience extremely upsetting. When I arrived at the hospital I was only a few centimetres dilated I was told to go home but I just couldn’t. After a few hours a nurse came in to see me and I said I’m in so much pain please is there anything I could have, because this was my first pregnancy she wouldn’t check to see how much further I was gone and said I should go home I insisted I needed to be check to which I was 5cm and was finally aloud some pain relief. The midwife I had didn’t help me through my contractions and just left me to get on with it which with the amount of pain I was in I felt scared and very alone. Towards the end when I was pushing to try and deliver my baby the midwife had left the room and myself and my partner was left in fear of having to deliver this baby by ourself it was for a good 30 minutes until we just couldn’t do it and had to press the buzzer for her to come back in. When my son was finally delivered I immediately knew something just didn’t seem right. I was asking what was wrong and why his cry seemed weak and the midwife replied he is fine some babies are just quieter, something was telling me things weren’t right. I had skin to skin with my baby and I started to loose a lot of blood (which didn’t end up being an emergency) so the midwife called the emergency buzzer and my son was passed over to my partner. In this time nurses came rushing in and immediately was not interested in my wellbeing but was asking what was wrong with my son and how long he had been like that. He was floppy, they attended to his needs and he was later taken down to the intensive care unit and put on oxygen and immediately treated for sepsis (Although thankfully it wasn’t sepsis) we are unsure of why he struggled so much at birth but the lack of care and attention to my self and my son and the what if the emergency buzzer wasn’t called and my son didn’t get the care he much needed still really upsets me.

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    • Really sorry to hear about your experience Aimee. Have you had the opportunity to talk about what happened with a midwife or doctor? The Birth Trauma Association and Make Birth Better also list sources of support. If you would like help to make a formal complaint do get in touch with us at info@birthrights.org.uk

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