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"My admission to hospital-childbirth"

About: The Townsville Hospital / Maternity Unit The Townsville Hospital / Midwifery Group Practice The Townsville Hospital / Special Care Nursery

(as the patient),

It's taken me a while to give feedback but time flies by when you have a baby! First of all, I'd like to say a big thank you to all the staff that looked after us in birth suite, theatres, and SCN (special care nursery) for their care of both me and my baby last year.

I was lucky enough to have 2 awesome midwives from MGP (midwifery group practice) looking after me. Thank you for taking such good care of me and my family. I am in awe of the amazing work you both do and I can only hope I have one or both of you as my midwives for baby no. 2 someday.

In theatres I'd like to thank the nurses for taking extra special care of me (and my husband). You both went out of your way to calm me down and ensure I was ok. I certainly felt like I got the gold treatment in your care and you made my experience a positive one.

SCN staff went above and beyond in the care of myself and my baby. I have already thanked each and everyone of you for the excellent care we received. You all do such a brilliant job.

I had both positive and negative experiences with my stay in maternity ward. Firstly, thank you to the nurse for your care of me the night I gave birth. You allowed me to spend time with my baby to bond in SCN after picking me up from theatre and never rushed me to leave them. The maternity ward staff were very caring and accommodating while my baby stayed in the SCN however I felt my discharge from the maternity ward could have been better managed. The first issue is the number of beds on the maternity ward. There is a need for further expansion of the TTH maternity ward, and for more staff. If the ward was not as full as it was then perhaps I would have been able to stay an extra night and avoid some of the negative impact my discharge had on my birthing experience. The nurse that discharged me actually told me that my room was needed for other patients. Secondly, I believe that more single rooms would be beneficial for the patients and newborns in a maternity ward. With a newborn it is difficult enough to get a decent amount of sleep to function, when you add another new mother and baby to the same room almost everyone is getting minimal sleep. Lack of sleep over a prolonged period can really change a new mothers perspective, as I know it did for me. Before I gave birth I had a shared room and had very little sleep, but after birth I had a single room and was able to get a bit more sleep. Although I never shared with anyone else after having my baby I could imagine the difficulties encountered by other mums who are trying to breastfeed with an audience, attend to other postnatal and bathroom needs and manage visitors with another patient and their family in the room.

On my day of discharge, I felt as though I was booted out of the maternity ward. I had a number of concerns but felt they weren't being listened to or taken seriously by the ward nurse discharging me. For a hospital that encourages breastfeeding I felt as though there was no plan in place for me to be able to breastfeed my baby. There was no collaboration between the discharge nurse and SCN. To put it mildly I felt "out of it" and unable to think clearly. Unfortunately my husband had gone home for a few hours that afternoon unaware that I would be discharged in the meantime so I felt even more alone and completely unorganised in limbo land. If the discharge nurse had simply rung SCN and asked if there was a boarding room available for me we could have avoided a lot of anxiety on my part. Instead I was abruptly discharged and had to work out a plan for what I would do and where I would go with my bags stowed behind the maternity ward desk. This created its own problems with my bottles of water, maternity pads, breast pads and nipple creams all in my bag and now harder to get to. The response I got when I asked the discharge nurse if staying in SCN boarding rooms was an option was "they usually only let mothers stay for a night or two" and we had a further week long stay ahead of us. Luckily the SCN nurse looking after my baby was more accommodating and able to organise a boarding room for me later that afternoon as SCN was fairly empty. To some degree, for my discharge nurse I believe my baby was out of sight and out of mind and therefore how I would feed my baby was not their problem.

The ward nurse had expected me to go home after discharge, leaving my sick newborn in SCN while I was trying to establish breastfeeding. Without my milk supply coming in and no breast pump at home, I was immediately anxious on how I would achieve this. Coming through a traumatic birth and not having my baby with me, the last thing I needed was added worry and my perception of birthing my first baby became a very negative one. Unfortunately my experience with this one person has really impacted on me negatively and taken me a while to get over.

If it wasn't for SCN, my baby and I certainly wouldn't have had the time to bond nor would they have received the breastmilk they needed to turn a corner to health. I now see just what an important resource having boarding rooms are. No mum should have to separate from their little baby. I was fully aware that I could have stayed bedside, but without having access to my large bag with all the necessary post partum items, this wasn't an option for me. It would be fantastic if there were more boarding rooms to accommodate mothers who wish to stay close to their baby.

The last person I was thinking about through all of this was myself and therefore when it got to 3pm on discharge day and I hadn't had any pain relief since 7am (none offered with my lunch or before my discharge at 1pm) I found it difficult to move around. If they had simply offered something before discharge knowing I wasn't going straight home, I may not have had this experience. If I wasn't worried and overwhelmed about everything else that day maybe I would have asked for pain relief myself. A few days later while still in SCN, another new mum had the same quick discharge that I did without pain relief and she could not sit down to breastfeed her baby because it was too painful. Clearly my experience was not a one off and more thought should be given to mothers of babies still in hospital. Looking back, I wish someone had advocated for me in my time of need.

All in all here are my recommendations for the future:

1. A larger maternity ward with single rooms and extra staff to accommodate this.

2. Better collaboration between NICU (neonatal intensive care unit)/SCN and maternity ward (caring for mum and bub holistically-this needs work on maternity wards end, not SCN's end).

3. More boarding rooms for parents in SCN to facilitate bonding between mother and child.

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