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"Staff comments during birth"

About: Bunbury Hospital / Maternity

(as the patient),

I recently had a baby at the Bunbury Regional Hospital in the maternity ward. Prior to arriving at the Hospital, I telephoned the midwife on call to tell them that I was in labour and get some guidance as to when I should come into the Hospital. My initial impression was not positive as I was advised that my symptoms would probably just peter out. These comments made me second guess whether I was really in labour, and also fearful that if I wasn't, then I was concerned about how real contractions would feel and how I would cope with them.

Several hours later, my contractions intensified. I telephoned the midwife again to tell them that I did think that I was in labour and that I felt it was time to come into the Hospital. The midwife advised against me coming in, however, my husband was insistent so we went in.

When we arrived, it took me a mighty effort to get from the car to the ward due to the intensity of the contractions. The midwife examined me on arrival and said I was only 3 cms dilated.  They said it was up to me but I could go home if I wanted as I would not be having my baby for hours. 

These comments made me feel like I was not coping with the pain/birth as the contractions were excruciating. I expressed to the midwife that it had taken a lot of effort to get to the ward from the car and I did not want to have to do that again at a later time.

I also overheard the midwife say to my mother that I should go home to get some sleep as I would not be giving birth until about the morning (by this stage it was about mid-evening).

In light of these comments about the likely timing of the birth, I felt that I needed to consider pain relief options as I didn't think I could cope with the intensity of the contractions for another 8 or so hours. I felt disappointed in myself and my ability to cope with birth as I wanted to try to give birth naturally without any pain relief. I felt that I was failing. 

I attempted to discuss my options with this midwife and to share my feelings of failure, however, their response seemed more focused on them sharing that they had children who were all born at home. I am not sure if it was intended but I did not feel that this midwife understood my feelings, and their response only added to my feelings of failure. I felt like their comments implied that they coped with giving birth a few times without pain relief and if I had any pain relief that I was weak or not coping.

I elected to have some morphine to assist with the pain. The morphine was administered by another midwife/nurse, Tina. Tina's approach was, I felt, much more empathetic and supporting. Tina made the comment when she first came in to see me that my contractions seemed "very intense". This was the first time I felt one of the staff at the Hospital appeared to acknowledge or show any care about how I was feeling.

Unbeknownst to me, the first midwife went home to get some sleep.  

After I had the morphine around an hour later, I felt like I needed to start pushing. Tina then examined me and said I was fully dilated. Tina called the first midwife to come back to the Hospital. Prior to that midwife returning, I asked Tina if she could stay during the birth as I didn't feel comfortable with only the first midwife, given their previous comments and lack of empathy.

I then gave birth to my baby 2 hours later.  

Following the birth, the first midwife's approach completely changed, they were very caring and supportive.

It is not that my experience was bad or that I wanted to make a complaint.  However, I wanted to share my experience and to express how I felt about some of the comments made by the first midwife during the birth to provide constructive feedback.

I would remind all midwives of the importance of being conscious of their comments made during labour, particularly in relation to time frames and pain relief, as in my experience, these comments had a massive impact on my mindset during the birth.


Response from Katrina Jones, Clinical Midwifery Manager, Bunbury Hospital, WACHS South West last week
Katrina Jones
Clinical Midwifery Manager, Bunbury Hospital,
WACHS South West

(08) 9722 1348

Submitted on 18/02/2021 at 13:24
Published on Care Opinion at 13:25

picture of Katrina Jones

Dear asteropefk67,

Thank you for taking the time to share your birthing experience from Bunbury maternity on Care Opinion. The birth of a baby is such a memorable occasion, and I am sorry that you were left feeling as though you didn't receive the kind and compassionate care that all women deserve when birthing their babies. We aim to reassure women throughout labour and birth. However, your experience suggests that we could have done more to support you and I will be sharing your story amongst the Midwifery team for their reflections.

Thanks also for your kind words about the care that Tina provided. I am so pleased that Tina was able to provide the support that you needed, and I will make sure that I pass on your kind words and feedback to her.

I do want you to know that we take all feedback seriously. I would greatly appreciate it if you could reach out to me to provide me with some more information and I will be better able to further discuss your experience with the relevant staff involved in your care. This will ultimately enable staff to apply learnings from this in the way they provide care. If you are happy to, my name is Katrina Jones and I am the Clinical Midwifery manager of the Unit. Please feel free to call me at a time that is convenient to you on 0418 913 555

Again, thank you for sharing your story with us. I do hope that we hear from you soon.

Katrina Jones

Clinical Midwifery Manager

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