"Upsetting birth experience"

About: Karratha Health Campus

(as the patient),

I contacted the maternity ward at early hours of the morning to seek advice as I was in labour. I was advised by the midwife that the ward was busy and I should stay home as long as I could if possible. I decided I could no longer labour at home and arrived at the maternity ward at about a few hours later. I was taken straight through to a birthing room and was greeted by a midwife who asked what my plan was. From the start I made it clear that I wanted an epidural. I was then cared for by a different midwife and didn’t see the first midwife again. The second midwife checked how dilated I was (6cm) and then pushed their opinions on me about having an epidural and I believe, tried to convince me otherwise.

I was adamant this was what I wanted and had no plans on changing my mind. I feel that I made this clear, as did my spouse who was by my side. The midwife made comments about a lack of stretch marks (‘oh.. no stretchmarks?’) on my stomach which I felt was unprofessional. They continually questioned whether I still wanted the epidural and eventually gave us the impression that they had made the phone call for the anaesthetist to attend. A couple of hours later they are yet to arrive so we questioned the midwife who stated, oh I have to take your bloods first - they hadn’t even made the call! I felt the midwife was hoping they could convince me otherwise, we heard them make comments like this to other midwives that they tried to talk me out of it. They even said to me directly that normally they can talk them out of it (referring to mothers in labour). I felt they were rude and made unnecessary remarks such as: oh she doesn’t handle pain too well?’ to my spouse when talking about needing the epidural. In my opinion, they were abrupt and told me I could not stand under the shower for temporary pain relief while I waited for the anaesthetist to arrive, despite a short time earlier (prior to calling them) suggesting I do this.

This was my second labour (firstborn at another hospital, had epidural, completely positive experience). In the end my baby was born almost 10 hours later and after a dose of oxytocin, I felt the epidural was a life saver.

The same midwife was on shift that evening and attended my room and again, made comments about how they can normally talk women out of the epidural, how I must have known it was going to last so long to want the epidural, as the labour went longer than they expected.

I feel that my request for the epidural was reasonable and made very clear from the beginning. I felt my pain relief was delayed unnecessarily by the midwife who had a duty of care and their unprofessional comments and rude manner made my whole birthing experience a negative and deeply upsetting one.


Response from Liam Avery, A/Operations Manager, West Pilbara, WA Country Health Service (WACHS) Pilbara last week
Liam Avery
A/Operations Manager, West Pilbara,
WA Country Health Service (WACHS) Pilbara
Submitted on 23/06/2020 at 11:57
Published on Care Opinion at 12:07

Dear chachawd95,

Thank you for taking the time to share with us your birthing experience at Karratha Health Campus.

I was very saddened to hear about what happened and I am genuinely sorry that your birthing plan was not encouraged and supported. I am also very sorry that the epidural was delayed without any apparent clinical reason to do so. The birth of a baby is such a wonderful moment and I sincerely apologise that we mismanaged your care at such a special time.

I have spoken to the Clinical Midwife Specialist and the Nurse Unit Manager, who are both equally concerned about what you have described.

If you are happy to do so, I would really appreciate it if you could contact Linda Sinclair, District Director of Nursing and myself to discuss what happened and how we can ensure that it does not happen again. My name is Liam Avery and you can contact me via phone on 9144 7639 or alternatively via email at Liam.Avery@health.wa.gov.au

I really do appreciate the time you have taken to provide this feedback and hope to hear from you soon.

Yours sincerely,

Liam Avery

A/Operations Manager West Pilbara

WA Country Health Service Pilbara

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