"Giving Birth at home unplanned"

About: Canberra Hospital

(as the patient),

Earlier this year, at approximately 4pm I began to experience some contractions that were more intense than the usual Braxton Hicks I had been experiencing. As both my other labours were induced and were also over 12 years ago, I had very little experience with what spontaneous labour would feel like. I also knew that I did have a tendency to have quick labours (first two were 2 & 3 hours after (ROM) rupture of membranes). I called the number provided on the Maternity Handbook and explained my symptoms to the Midwife. From the beginning she was terribly dismissive towards me. She was sighing and showing obvious signs of frustration through the tone in her voice. When I advised her it was my third baby she said, Well you should know what to do then, and then I explained that it had been quite some time since my last delivery and they were both inductions. She just grunted at me without even the thought of an apology. I then explained that I was concerned as I have fast labours to which her reply was, “Well I hope you have ambulance cover then”. At this point I was terribly shocked, and was struggling to grasp what to do. Do I come in so someone can check me and give me assurance? Or do I wait it out at home? So I asked what she thought. Her response was, Well I don’t know because I haven’t examined you, but it doesn’t sound like you’re in labour to me. When I asked how she had come to that conclusion she said because my contractions were not regular, but also mentioned that she hadn’t examined me so she couldn’t be sure.

So I hung up the telephone feeling more confused than before I made the phone call. But it didn’t stop there, after about an hour my husband decided that he wasn’t going to let me sit there worrying and insisted that we go to the hospital, so we did. Upon arrival we were advised that there were currently no rooms, however they were waiting for a few ladies to be transferred to wards and the rooms to be cleaned, so it shouldn’t be long. We waited for almost 3 hours for this to occur. In the waiting room we watched the three ladies and their babies be transferred to the ward, and the cleaner come and go. At the 3 hours mark I attended the desk in frustration and asked for my maternity book back as I was going to Calvary. I'd assume the lack of care towards me would have easily been explained with a logical excuse that it was a busy night, but attending the desk I counted 4 midwifes standing & chatting inconsequentially (trust me it wasn’t about a patient). I was once again told there were no clean rooms (so they were still going with this excuse, although I dispute this furiously), and by the puzzled look on all the staff faces it seemed they forgot I was there and were trying to cover their back sides!

Needless to say I didn’t feel comfortable in the care of these Health Professionals for lack of a better word, as on this night they were anything but professional. They gave me back my maternity book and let me walk out of there with zero follow up. I attended Calvary and was put in a room straight away and attended too. Needless to say they advised that I was not in active labour, my husband and I were just happy to get some answers and be able to go home and get some rest.

Working in the Health industry as a Practice Manager of a Medical Centre I am widely aware of the strain a busy day can put on a workplace, but I am also aware that regardless of this we always have a duty of care to each and every patient. On this occasion the birth suit at the Canberra Hospital (TCH) failed to provide me and my unborn baby with our rightful duty of care. The poor management and rude mistreatment on the telephone resulted in me leaving the facility without receiving any medical care and advice. I would also like to point out that after our arrival at the birth suite, I only spoke to the ward clerk, and did not even get to speak to anyone with medical training at any point.

Following this incident I considered changing hospitals, but thought it would be unwise at this late stage of the pregnancy.

However and most importantly because of the treatment or lack of from the staff at TCH, when I was in labour I felt uncomfortable about calling with questions. As a result I had my baby on my bedroom floor at home. I awoke at 4am with pains similar to the ones that I had called about previously. They were irregular in timing so I didn’t think anything of it until my waters broke at 8. 16am, I had 35 minutes from ROM until my baby was born. The treatment I incurred from your staff instilled a lot of self doubt. I was so doubtful & concerned about being belittled & dismissed again I didn’t even call the hospital until about 15 minutes before the baby was born. I also held off calling an ambulance as once again the self doubt was rampant. I delivered my baby with no trained medical staff and only the assistance of my best friend and husband. I am terribly thankful that there were no complications and our baby and I came out of the ordeal normal and healthy. As you can see that earlier event caused a massive ripple effect on my birth experience.

I feel very let down by TCH and the Birth Suite staff.