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That Mother Nature; she is one clever lady!

Pregnancy and motherhood is the most natural and wonderful life changing events a woman will go through.  When you are pregnant for the first time there is a blissful ignorance of what is about to come. It's the most beautiful, romantic time and it's all hope and happiness.  You can't quite imagine what it's going to be like, but you know it's going to be beautiful! You feel your baby move and your heart is filled with love and excitement and you haven't even met them yet but you already know that you are carrying your world with you. It is not coincidence we all feel this way; it is by design.  Right from the word go their is a powerful force responsible; she is called Mother Nature.
When your baby arrives, and let's face it ladies, labour is one hell of an eye-opener! It's nothing that you could have imagined and it's hard to describe. Mother nature makes it so you can just about cope, you can bear it, so that you will be so filled with relief an…

My birth experience left me frightened and alone. Could postnatal care be better?

My birth experience was not what I had wanted it to be. As a first time mum I had hoped for the natural birth I had imagined while writing a birth plan. Alas it was not to be!
 I was under a consultant for the entire pregnancy and through regular monitoring it had been picked up that I had low amniotic fluid. In the end it dropped again and it was decided I should be induced at 37 weeks. I was terrified - I had two sweeps the week before and I walked miles and miles in the hope to get things going naturally but my little one was not done cooking and so made no moves at all!

The induction started early on a drizzly Monday morning in January. And within 2 hours I started having contractions which quickly settled into a steady pattern of every 2 minutes.  I went on like that from 11am through the day until early evening and I wasn't sure what was happening if baby was on his way or not! All I knew was it hurt like hell and was getting stronger and stronger. I barely saw the midwife as she was rushed off her feet but when it neared the ebd of the day I asked if things were moving in right direction but she wouldn't commit to whether baby was likely show up over night.  The difficulty is that partners can't stay with you. They can sit in a waiting room off the ward but we decided that the midwife would have said if it was likely to happen imminently so I sent Dan home reluctantly to get some sleep.
I had my tens machine on from lunch time , but by 10pm I was in agony.  Eventually I waddled off to find the midwife to ask for some painkiller. She put me on the monitor and said that I was contracting too much, so she removed the pessary.  I was 3cm dilated. I asked if I could ring my husband but she said not yet and the contractions could ease off now it had been removed.  They didn't ease off and when the midwife returned to check babies heart rate was ok she found me kneeling on the floor breathing through each contraction silently as the other women on the bay were sleeping. She gave me paracetamol and told me to call if I needed her. I was exhausted, frightened and feeling so alone, my WhatsApp had gone quiet as everyone I knew had gone to bed.

I was feeling pretty naive as I didn't even know whether I was in labour or whether it was normal to hurt so much.  I didn't want to make a fuss so I just tried to breathe and keep calm and not wake anyone else up.

At 12am my waters broke - not that I knew it (I just felt a little dampness) but I thought I best check so I waddled off again sweating and panting in agony to find the midwife who confirmed that indeed my waters had broken and I could have some pain killers now!  Erm yes please! There was no gas and air on the induction ward and to be honest I thought if I am only 3cm this is going to be a rough ride so I opted for diamorphine. Charlie's heart rate was slowing and so within minutes I was being rushed off to the birth suite and I rang Dan to tell him baby was on his way. Dan obviously had gone off into a deep sleep despite the fact his wife was on an induction ward and he was likely to meet his son in a few hours as he rang back 10 minutes later to check I had actually called and he hadn't dreamt it! And then I was strapped to the monitors bed bound for the whole 7 hours 31 minutes it took to deliver Charlie.

 His birth hadn't been straight forward and his heart rate was very low from the start which made the whole experience a little traumatic but that is for another day!


What I want to focus on is what happened afterwards. I was transferred to the postnatal ward new baby in tow and given a private room  which was a relief as I was done with trying to not wake other women.  I was told I would be monitored for 48 hours due to pre existing conditions, and then the bombshell - Dan had to leave at 8pm.  My heart sank. How was I going to look after this baby on my own, I was so weary and to be honest unprepared for bearing sole responsibility for the tiny human I now had. I had anticipated Dan would be with me to figure it out together.  To make it worse Charlie wouldn't feed and I relied on Dan to help me attach him and reassure me I was doing it right. I was panicking because Charlie just kept falling asleep - I later discovered he had a tongue tie which was totally missed in the hospital.  The truth is I was afraid of staying there. I was afraid of doing it alone and being alone. I was sad that after all the trauma of the last 48hours my rock was yet again leaving me.

What I don't understand is why can't partners stay? What made it worse is that nobody came near me so I really did have to get a grip and learn to do it on my own.  The next night I was even worse Charlie was still not feeding and the nurses were saying I had to stay another 24 hours because I was over anxious and that is why he wasn't feeding. This was just an assumption based on me continually asking for help as my baby wouldn't feed.  I was devastated and totally terrified because I felt like it was my fault Charlie couldn't feed. I was feeding him hand expressed colostrum with a syringe and it all felt so wrong.  A healthcare assistant came to help me feed and she was so rough at grabbing my nipple and shoving it in Charlie's mouth and then roughly wiping his face with cold water to make him wake when he fell to sleep; it was the final straw I just couldn't bear to be away from home anymore. I discharged myself. 5 days later after he had lost 11% of his body weight it was finally discovered he couldn't latch due to a tongue tie. How this wasn't picked up in the hospital beggars belief!
The experience was awful. Where was the relaxing, reassuring postnatal care I needed? And what about Dad's? Dan wasn't there to hold my hand and reassure me when my waters broke, he wasn't there to mop my brow or rub my back through the first stages, he wasn't there to spend the first night of our son's life with us. He had as much right to experience that as me. I wasn't ill, I wasn't receiving treatment I was just there 'just in case'.  I experienced more anxiety and loneliness in the first hours of my son's life than was necessary. This life changing event after which I was sore, exhausted and overwhelmed and in a strange place too! I know a hospital is a hospital and not a hotel but really does postnatal care need to be like that? Surely Dad's should be able to share in the care for the first days and nights and to reassure frightened first time mums?



Whether this was down to funding or cuts or over worked staff or it is just what is considered standard postnatal care it does beg the question could it be better?

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