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"Care in hospital after homebirth"

About: Broome Health Campus / Emergency Department Broome Health Campus / Maternity/Midwifery

(as the patient),

I recently birthed my baby at my Broome home, before we could make it to hospital. At 35 weeks pregnant, I had over 7 hours of regular contractions. This happened again both at 36 and 37 weeks, so when it came to 38 weeks I wasn't sure if it would progress to actual labour. I figured baby and myself were ready this time if it did progress, so I went about my day as normal. I messaged a number I had for Broome MGP to let them know, they didn't respond but I presumed they had received it. 

Around mid-afternoon my waters broke. My contractions got slightly stronger but nothing like previous labours so I figured I could wait a little longer before heading into hospital. Around an hour later, my contractions increased, my husband couldn't find my phone to let MGP know we were coming in soon, so he phoned our friend, who we had asked to be our support person while she was on holiday in Broome. Our friend was going to meet us at the hospital, however, by that stage, I had started to push and was unable to move, so she drove to our house and assisted my husband and I while we delivered our baby.

My baby's birth went extremely well, baby was born healthy and alert that afternoon. I birthed the full placenta naturally 16 minutes after baby was born. When things had settled, we rang the MGP to inform them that baby and placenta had come safely and quickly at home, the MGP midwife asked if there was anything they could do... [note: my husband said he believed they seemed a little annoyed, this was the first sense of judgement we felt]... We didn't have a cord clamp, obviously, so asked if we could come get a clamp, they said they couldn't just give us a clamp, we would have to come in for care, fair enough, I was under their care and completely understood... however, naturally, I was in my element enjoying my baby, having peaceful bonding after such a beautiful quick birth, I didn't want to go in straight away and interrupt my baby feeding. MGP later messaged saying we could come get a clamp, however, by the time I saw the message we had already clamped the cord ourselves. 

Sadly and completely out of anyone's control around 3.5 hours after birth I noticed I started to bleed heavily, my husband called our friend for advice, during which time I fainted momentarily, she said for us to go straight into hospital. Taking her advice my husband quickly bundled baby and me into the car. It was extremely traumatic for me going through ED, and while the staff were all amazing with physical care, I couldn't help feel that some questions and statements were accusatory and inferred that our home birth was intentional and irresponsible.

I came into Broome hospital in a very vulnerable state, a perfect evening of welcoming my baby so quickly was, I felt, turned into a nightmare. I believe the postpartum hemorrhaging would have happened regardless of where baby was born, yet I was made to feel like I had committed a crime by birthing at home. As previously stated the physical care I received in ED was professional, I truly thank everyone who assisted me for that. However, I am upset it was inferred that I was silly and deliberately homebirthed. I strongly feel my husband, my friend and I were all being judged and somewhat interrogated. I honestly didn't feel safe sharing information surrounding my beautiful birth. 

I received professional care in maternity ward, the midwife caring for me all night was lovely. However, I was beside myself, feeling extremely depressed, having uncontrolled negative emotions, I felt I couldn't share my emotional pain for fear of being told it was my own fault. [At this point, I would like to say thank you to the hospital midwives who cared for me and make a special mention, firstly to Pearl. When Pearl came in to tend to me I felt that she noticed my emotional pain, having her beside my bed, not judging me, genuinely asking if I was ok and empowering me to believe in myself again meant the world to me. Secondly, Tracey who, clearly ran off her feet, still took so much time to ensure baby and I were looked after]. 

I would strongly like to make it known that I'm not angry with any hospital or MGP staff, however, I do believe the emotional distress I endured was not from ethical practices and I would like to see a change. I would like Broome hospital and MGP to acknowledge that homebirths can accidentally occur. When baby and mum come into hospital, for whatever reason, after a homebirth I believe they should be treated with respect and dignity, not only physically (which I was) but verbally. I feel staff should not presume a homebirth was planned and parents should not be verbally attacked. Perhaps if Broome hospital or MGP was better equipped to support homebirths, those mothers who do naturally birth quick could have a choice to stay home and be supported. It's 2021, I would think we have the technology, medical means and knowledge to support mothers in this area. 

Lastly, I couldn't help notice the last months of my pregnancy didn't acquire the same quality care carried out by Broome MGP in previous pregnancies. During visits I was told how busy they were, while I understand this was true, I often felt like I was rushed through as a customer and not as a patient. Not knowing who my primary midwife was and seeing someone different each time was confusing, I felt I was not given the opportunity to feel comfortable to share any personal information directly affecting my pregnancy. I also feel there was a lack of MGP presence in the hospital afterwards. The postnatal visits we received from MGP midwife Jo were professional and caring. 

Responses

Response from Millie Stewart, A/Coordinator of Nursing & Midwifery, Broome Hospital last week
We are preparing to make a change
Millie Stewart
A/Coordinator of Nursing & Midwifery,
Broome Hospital
Submitted on 18/02/2021 at 16:40
Published on Care Opinion at 16:44


Dear januaryxp36,

Congratulations on the birth of your baby. I hope all is going well for you and your family and you are all relishing in the joy of your new arrival.

I am so sorry to hear you felt judged and disrespected when you attended the hospital after the birth of your baby. You and your partner must have felt very worried and vulnerable coming into hospital after you experienced a large bleed and fainting at home. While I am pleased that you were happy with the clinical care and treatment you received, I am disappointed that you were left feeling emotionally unsupported at a time when you needed this most.

I am also sorry that you felt let down by the quality of care from the Midwifery Group Practice (MGP) midwives. While we consider ourselves very lucky to have a core group of long term and dedicated midwives in our community, we have unfortunately experienced some changes recently in our team of midwives as a result of some of our midwives returning home to their families and others moving on to other opportunities. We are working very hard to recruit new midwives to our team.

I would also like to assure you that Broome Hospital supports safe birthing options and choices and we are pleased to have been successful in securing funding to upgrade the birth suites. The upgrade plans include water immersion options and I would welcome the opportunity to speak with you if you might like to be involved in the planning and design of the new maternity suite.

I would really appreciate an opportunity to speak with you about your experience and any involvement you may wish to have in our planned improvements. My name is Melissa Stewart and I am the Acting Regional Director of Nursing and Midwifery. Please feel free to contact me by phone 08) 9195 2450 or via email at melissa.stewart@health.wa.gov.au.

I appreciate your kind words regarding your physical care from the team and for naming quite a few staff that provided you with excellent support while in the maternity ward. I will make sure to share your kind words with them.

Thank you very much for sharing your story with us and providing us with the opportunity to reflect on your experience. I do hope that we hear from you soon.

Yours sincerely,

Millie Stewart

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