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Birth Trauma - If Restaurants Behaved Like Hospitals

by meggf (follow)
Last week I went to a restaurant for dinner. Being a vegetarian, I ordered a vegetarian burger. When I placed my order, the waiter scoffed at me, saying “ohh you’re one of THOSE people are you”.

The waiter brought me a glass of water and I noticed that there was lipstick on it from the previous customer. The fork had a piece of rice stuck between the prongs.

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It was over forty minutes before they brought my burger and when it arrived it was cold in the middle but the bun was burnt. Although the menu had listed a number of ingredients, what I received did not have any of them, it was completely different.

When I took a bite I discovered that my burger was actually beef, not vegetarian. I felt physically ill. I left the restaurant, and I refused to pay them after the appalling service. The next day I called and spoke to the manager and made a complaint. The manager was rude, and defensive, my complaint was completely ignored.

People would be outraged if a restaurant did this. No one - other than the manager - would tell me it hadn’t happened.

Last week I went to hospital to give birth. I had thoroughly researched and planned a drug free water birth. When I arrived the nurse took my birth plan, and read through it quickly. Then she rolled her eyes at me and said “ohh you’re one of THOSE women are you”.

I was taken to labour and delivery and assigned to a room with a bed and a chair. I was expecting a birthing tub and I chosen this hospital because it was something they said they provided. Apparently they only had one though, and it was being used by another woman.

After settling in and labouring for a while I decided that I needed water so I buzzed for the nurses. It was forty-five minutes before anyone responded, and they told me that I was not able to drink anything, then proceeded to set up IV fluid - something I specifically said I did not want in my plan but I was afraid of becoming dehydrated so I consented.

It took the nurse half an hour to finally place the IV but an hour later we realised it had been incorrectly placed and the fluid was going into my tissue My arm was terribly swollen.

My husband inflated our birth ball and I sat on it for a little while until the doctor came in and insisted that I labour on the bed only. I asked why, and she told me that it was just hospital policy. Labouring on the bed increased the pain of the contractions so much, and I was unable to move to help myself cope.

The only time I left the bed was to go to the toilet. When I went I discovered that there was someone else’s blood in it.

Eventually I requested an epidural - something I had NOT wanted at all - and it took about three hours for them to organise the anaesthetist. By the time they arrived it was too late, and in a great panic they threw me onto my back and ordered me to push. The room filled with people I didn’t know, and they all watched my baby emerging. I thought there was something wrong, but later they told me it was normal to have extra staff on hand for the birth.

I requested that the cord be left to pulse but the doctor - who I had never met - severed it instantly, stating that it was hospital policy, and they don’t follow birth plans. After that they all congratulated each other on a job well done and left the room.

I wrote a letter to complain. Months later a meeting was arranged between me and the hospital liaison officer. At the meeting my concerns were dismissed. I was told that a healthy baby was their main goal, and that I didn’t have a valid complaint.

When hospitals do this to women, everyone is outraged … at the woman for daring to voice her unmet expectations. Ironically, if a restaurant behaved like a hospital, it would go out of business. We have to wonder if hospitals will eventually do themselves out of the maternity business as well.


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What to Say to a Woman with Birth Trauma

Image Courtesy of morgueFile free images
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i have been in a restaurant where the maitre de stood there shouting abuse at us because we refused to eat a meal that was burnt to a crisp and looked like boot leather. We were openly refusing to pay for the meal, one that could not be eaten. One of his comments, waiving a sweeping arm around the rest of the patgrons, was "no-one else has complained". We later tracked down the owner of the restaurant and telephoned him - he was sympathetic.

Similar thing happened years later when i was in labour but I was so shattered by the experience I did not have the wherewithall to complain afterwards and I could never face having another child. I believe to this day had i fallen pregnant again I would have thrown myself off a cliff.
That is very similar to my experience with hospital birth too. I was told in pregnancy that they supported "natural labor" and ad birthing tubs. When I showed up in labor, they wanted to run dozens of tests, hook me to an IV and keep me in bed on my back on constant monitoring. When I asked about a birthing tub I was laughed at and told there were too many women in labor for the staff to deal with tubs. I was pressured to get an epidural over & over. They kept a nurse in the room with me constantly so I never had one second of privacy. I was lied to on multiple occasions, I later found out they even asked my husband and father to lie to me, to tell me they could force me to get an epidural, because my screaming and moaning was scaring the other patients. But I was only screaming & moaning because I had the pressure of monitor on my belly and being on my back was horribly excruciating. At one point I rolled to my side, but the staff said the monitors weren't working that way and I had to roll back. When I refused, they picked me up & rolled me.

Eventually I was told the baby needed internal monitoring and they had to break my water to "stick" the monitor to his head. I was never told it was a SCREW. I was never told any risks of having y water broken like cord prolapse & immediate c-section. I was a RH- woman, trying to avoid blood mixing and they poked a hole in my babys head in utero.

As time went on I got weaker & weaker to fight them and allowed opiates to be added to my IV (which didn't help, just made me shake & throw up) and eventually they forced me to push when I wasn't ready yet, and gave me an episiotomy because I "didn't know how to push" they told me I was irresponsible for not taking Lamaze classes. They immediately clamped the cord and put the baby on my chest. About 10 seconds later, he was taken away for the next 4 hours. He was fine. I was fine. There was no reason for him to be gone that long, he wasn't fed that whole time either. No one seemed to notice. I woke up 4 hrs after the birth to find him by my bedside. No one had woken me, no one to help me nurse him. I just started to cry, I didn't even know if I should pick him up or how, I felt totally helpless.

I never complained to the hospital despite them sending multiple surveys, because I couldn't bear to have them tell me that was all normal and I just didn't know what to expect. I watched those birth shows on TV for years after, trying to wrap my mind around what happened as being normal and OK. Trying to retroactively accept it. After a year, I decided I would never give birth in a hospital without immediate medical need again. Period.

Thank you so much for taking the time to share your story, I'm so deeply sorry you were treated that way.

My apologies for not responding sooner, I was away when your comment came through and only just saw it now xxx
by meggf
They indicate that they compiled many stories, but it's almost exactly what happened with my first baby. I was basically ignored, until I asked for an epidural, then "managed" for the rest of the experience. Overall, it was devastating, and I almost decided never to have another child. There was no "forgetting" for me. I still remember every miserable minute. There was only wanting another child enough to decide to try again, and only after I discovered Hypnobabies.

My second experience was entirely different all the way down to "laboring" at home for 99% of the time, and arriving at the hospital only 45 minutes before my little one came screaming into the world. Everyone treated me completely differently that time, and I got to go home 36 hours later, which reduced their work load to practically nothing. My second birth healed most of the scars dealt by the first.

I truly feel that if the people who assist with births did a better job educating and actually helping mothers, it would benefit everyone. Instead they act as if a woman has no other choice, so she should just "deal with it" as long as she gets a healthy baby out of it.
Interestingly we've just published an article about education, and it being the responsibility of care providers.

I'm so glad your second birth experience was better. Thank you for taking the time to tell your story and comment xx
by meggf
So...basically, as the disclaimer notes...this actually never happened. I'm afraid this is just another inflammatory, false anecdote about the "evil medical community".

What about the restaurant? Don't you think it was inflammatory about the restaurant too?

See the GO IN PUSHING series linked at the bottom of the article.
by meggf
Meggf, if this was a compilation of many mother's bad experiences, like you mentioned in a reply to someone's comment, you should edit the piece, and say so, at the end please. Your story is a little misleading in that regards, if it was not actually "your" story. Thank you.
It's been very strange like that! The article starts out talking about going to a restaurant and then going on to birth, I thought it was pretty obvious! Furthermore we have other articles here in the same format that have never had this problem. I'm wondering if it got shared somewhere with an introduction that suggested it was a real story. Anyways, it's edited now. Thanks for stopping by and commenting xx
by meggf
Like a restaurant, what is on offer at a hospital is your choice. We cannot make you do anything and that is why you need a strong birth partner with you. If a pool was unavailable you should have asked them to refer you to a hospital that had one, with the loss of money that your birth would generate for them they would soon find you a pool. Client choice tops hospital policy every time, we can advise but we cannot make you do anything. Next time, have a home birth with a midwife you know and trust, they are so much nicer. Good Luck. www.painfreelabour.blogspot.co.uk
This story is NOT a true testimony, it's based on the many different stories we hear of women who have been treated poorly.

Suggesting that the woman should have had a strong birth partner is victim blaming. The woman should be able to give birth wherever, whenever, she happens to be in labour and know that everyone there will do everything possible to support her and keep her comfortable.
by meggf
Umm the contradiction in "we cant make you do anything and that is why you need a stong birth partner" is really ironic and laughable. If the first part of the argument is true the second part is not needed. Pity it is not a laughing matter and is actually reality for many women because of the power coercion control dynamic that exists in the system.
Exactly, the system is rotten from the inside out. Doctors are making far too much money out of keeping women complient to change anything. Change has to come from their clients. Us. In my blog I teach women to relax in labour to avoid contraction pain. This is why they need a strong birth partner to protect them from the stress of having to avoid the medicalisation of birth that obstetric nurses slide you toward as soon as you enter the ward. I see it all too often, I am constantly getting women off beds to help them labour normally on a birth ball or chair or simply mobilising. Even if they have to be monitored due to having a risk factor, she can still sit on a comfy chair. It is an uphill battle and we have to stand together to win. www.painfreelabour.blogspot.co.uk
by annjh
I am absolutely disgusted on your behalf. You should definitely take this further than just the hospitals liasion officer. Day in and day out hospitals get away with what no one else would, breaching your rights to your own body
and your rights to your own birth on YOUR terms. The 'healthy baby' goal is all well and good, but not when it infringes on the mother's right.

They had NO right and my heart absolutely breaks for you. Xx
by CJ
This is a compilation of stories, not an actual testimony. If you want to read actual stories of birth - many that are FAR FAR worse, try searching for the Go In Pushing series.
by meggf
There is a link at the bottom of this article.
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