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My birth journeys. Part 3: Manipulation, coercion and bullying

by lizzi (follow)
Helping plant the seeds of positive birth. www.sproutbirthing.com.au
Have you all heard of obstetric violence? And the “dead baby card”? If not, I highly recommend doing a little research on them before continuing….I’ll wait.

Interesting, hey?!

So we arrived at the hospital, having had no dinner…because we’re just being assessed and then going home, right?! I still can’t believe I was so stupid to think that they’d let me walk out of the hospital…but we live and learn (or not…but that’s probably about part 10 of my journey!).

I was put on the monitor, quizzed about my swelling, my vision, any headaches, any upper right quadrant pain etc. Kinda weird questions, but whatever. Monitoring was all fine and the doctor comes in. “You have to be induced right now”. She plonks piece of paper in front of me and practically yells – “These numbers are so high. Look at them. They should be and these are yours. You have to be induced”. The head midwife was called in. I was encouraged to contact a birth centre midwife (who’d obviously been coached to tell me my levels were too high and I should be induced). I started crying. I asked what would happen if I went home and the OB told me straight up – “You and your baby will probably die during the night”. Because I had “very very very very very severe pre-eclampsia”.

Note to self: If they’re talking about induction you and your baby are probably NOT about to die.

pre eclampsia
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

But I was left with the belief that some time during the night my placenta would explode off my uterine wall killing me, the baby and everyone in a five mile radius.

It seems that showing respect to pregnant and birthing women would also cause the whole fabric of society to collapse. Coz if pregnant women start feeling safe and secure they might…you know…just have a positive birth or something like that.

So guess what we did?

I remember the head midwife asking Dave “why is she crying” and Dave responding “well she wanted a natural birth”. The midwife laughed and said “Oh you can still have a natural birth!” Now I can assure you that there is NOTHING natural about having an induction. There’s nothing natural about hospitals. And having random people shove their fingers in your vagina whenever they feel like it. Or being strapped to machines. But we’ll get to all that.

pre eclampsia
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The only thing I managed to fight for and get was that Dave was to stay with me. I mean, if they were capable of bullying me like this with my partner present how would they behave towards me if I was alone? It wasn’t something I wanted to find out. When the midwife asked why I wouldn’t let them send him home I said something about support during early labour and she said “Oh I wish those midwives would stop telling women about early labour. It’s so annoying!”

Dave went home and got my stuff and some dinner. Yes – after all the bullying they put me through they couldn’t even be bothered feeding me. A nurse came through during the night to check me and bub and to do a random blood sugar test. In the morning when I went to be “assessed” again the nurse “escorting” me asked me what my BSL was this morning. I advised that I didn’t bother taking it because I was subject to a test during the night. She got really shitty at me, but I told her they could either do random ones OR I’d do my regular ones. I’m not a bloody pin cushion!

We get in to see the OB. A different one. He’s rather cheerful. “So we’re inducing you because it looks like you might have a bit of pre-eclampsia.” WTF?! So last night I was on the verge of death and this morning it seems I may have a little bit?!?! To say that I was upset by this revelation would be an understatement. I had been bullied, belittled, coerced and manipulated and the OBs couldn’t even agree on why.

So we did more gel, more monitoring. No change. Come back later. Got back to my room and discovered that I’d missed breakfast. So we went for a walk around the grounds and got something to eat. We weren’t supposed to leave the grounds, but we found a gap in the fence. Whatever, they couldn’t do any worse to me than they already had.

pre eclampsia
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

We got back for the 12 o’clock “assessment”. And waited until 2 (missing lunch as well…at least in prison you get 3 meals a day, turns out pregnant women aren’t as deserving). No change. More gel. Told that I’d be assessed at 8pm and sent home if no change. So we went out and walked some more.

And then we got back to the room and waited. And waited. And waited. At about 9 we grabbed one of the nurses and asked when my 8pm assessment was going to happen. And were told midnight. So we sat there – awake. Waiting. After having only a couple of hours of very uneasy sleep the night before I was not okay, but determined to get my chance to go home. I prayed that there was no change just so I could leave.

Midnight came and went. Dave went out and got a nurse to get someone. Because seriously guys…we’re just sitting here waiting! The OB from the morning came in and said that there was never going to be an assessment because the plan wouldn’t have changed. In the morning they’ll break my waters. Favourable cervix or not. I asked if there was really any point bothering and was assured that breaking my waters “could” send me straight into labour. We talked about how long I’d be “allowed” to go with broken water before starting the drip and agreed on 12 hours. Longer if I wanted.

So after about 36 hours of being in hospital, being bullied and lied to relentlessly, getting a total of about 6 hours “sleep” I went down to birth suite. To get my waters broken and have a baby. Not sure how anyone thought this could go well.

#Lizzi's birth journeys

Further reading about my journey:

My birth journeys. Part 2: Fear and anxiety

My birth journeys. Part 1: Hope and fear

The vessel

Just one day

Further reading about obstetric violence:

Obstetric violence: Stop burying your head in the sand

Obstetric violence: victim blaming, victim shaming

Obstetric violence: assigning responsibility
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I hope you are sending all this to your hospital in a formal complaint. Pre-eclampsia is not very nice but can be treated with hypertensive drugs which may have given you a little more time to go into labour naturally. If the BP is not controlled then the force can push the placenta away from the uterine wall leading to massive haemorrage. They should have told you what catagory of pre-eclampsia you were, high, med, or mild and discussed the options. However, having your waters broken and then being given 12 hr to go into labour is very generous, you usually only get 2. I hope you spent it on a birth ball to optimise the chance of labour. Thank you for speaking out, we really should do better. www.painfreelabour.blogspot.co.uk
Thanks Annjh. I've been enjoying and really value your comments. I'm certainly giving consideration to sending some of my writing through to the hospital. These one's are from my daughter's birth which was almost 4 years ago now (wow...can't believe how time has flown!!).

Without giving away too much of the story...We didn't end up getting 12hours, but what time we did have we spent walking outside in the sunshine. It was to be my last trip out into the sunshine for 7 days.
by lizzi
I am really looking forward to the rest of your story but at the same time feel ashamed that we have caused you so much pain. Every day I strive to save women from abuse at the hands of people who should be giving kind, safe and excellent care. x
by annjh
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