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"My traumatic experience after a traumatic birth"

About: King Edward Memorial Hospital / Maternity

(as the patient),

I live regional and after a traumatic delivery of my baby with complications for us both, we were rushed on the RFDS to Perth. My baby was taken to Perth Children’s Hospital and I was taken to King Edwards Memorial Hospital.

I reached the hospital early in the morning and being from North of WA, I was only wearing a thin nightie and I was cold. After I was transferred to my room, I asked the midwife when visiting hours were, I was told 3pm-7pm. I then asked if my parents (who lived in Perth) were able to deliver some warmer clothes, I felt they responded bluntly by saying they can drop them at reception and we can deliver them to you. First of all, I’d just given birth and I had not seen my baby and had no idea whether he was okay after being separated and sent to different hospitals. You can only imagine how I was feeling. Secondly, I was cold and the fact that I was flown from a regional town and had no belongings was, in my opinion, completely disregarded, along with wanting to be with my immediate family in what was such a traumatic time for me. 

I was then introduced to my first midwife (midwife A), she was lovely - she was welcoming and comforting. She got me settled and explained that once my catheter was out, I needed to be drinking as much water as possible to pass urine so my cannula could be removed (it was painful and I wanted it removed). She also explained that it was important to keep on top of my painkillers and asked if I wanted anything stronger than Panadol and Nurofen which I declined.

I was then left alone for quite some time. I was emotional, I cried non-stop. Another midwife (midwife B) stopped by my room and saw I was quite distressed which raised some concerns. They asked what they could do to make me feel better. I told them that I wanted to know if my baby was okay. They said they would call PCH and find out. I also told them that I was feeling very isolated and emotional and they asked me if/when my partner was arriving  (which was later in the afternoon). They then asked if I had anyone else who could support/visit me and I explained my parents lived in Perth and I was told they had to wait until visiting hours at 3pm. They said they would allow for one visitor outside of visiting hours. Not to mention, the patient in the room next to me, as I understand it, had 3 visitors from the moment I arrived and they played music on their phones all day. Jason Derulo and Chris Brown were the last people I wanted to listen to as I laid there sad and alone. 

Although I wasn’t satisfied with what I felt was the lack of support or understanding in regards to my own mental health, midwife B was just as lovely as midwife A and went out of their way to contact PCH and even organising for my partner to stay on the NICU ward a night earlier (as we were told there was no accommodation until the following day). 

After passing urine (which was quite scary to do), I built up the courage to call the midwife so my cannula could be removed. Another midwife (midwife C) came running through the door and basically, I felt, shouted yes? what’s wrong?.  I said I’ve gone to the toilet and they looked into the toilet and said it wasn't good enough and I  need to pass more than that. I felt like a child being scolded by a principal. After that, they asked if there was anything else they could help with and I asked for more painkillers. They looked at their notes then at their watch and said I can't have any more painkillers and that I need to wait one more hour, and left. I was left feeling embarrassed and uncomfortable. I felt like I was shown little empathy. 

Not even 5 minutes later, midwife A came in and I told her I’d gone to the toilet and straight away she said oh great, let’s get your cannula out! I then asked for painkillers and she was happy to give me more Panadol. 

I was then left alone with no more “check-ins” and I left the hospital on my own accord late in the afternoon to catch a taxi and visit my baby and meet my partner at PCH. 

When I arrived to PCH, the midwife (midwife D) introduced themselves and later organised a taxi voucher for me to return to KEMH to see a doctor for discharge.

On my arrival to KEMH, it took some time for the doctor to assess and discharge me, even though I believe they weren't happy to do so. When leaving the hospital I overheard midwife C discussing my discharge with another midwife (midwife E) and to me it sounded negative and callous.

The other midwife simply told midwife C that it was essentially my decision if I wanted to leave and that they thought it was important for me and my mental health to spend time with my partner and my sick baby.

I can’t even begin to explain the emotions I felt that day but when I think back to my traumatic birth and the days that followed and the PTSD that I’ve been struggling with, it’s my experience at King Edwards that shadows my dark emotions and flashbacks the most. I’ve never felt so irrelevant, isolated and frightened. I don’t wish for a mother to be separated from her sick child and immediate family in an unknown place upon anyone. I think it’s something that has tainted the whole experience and something that will haunt me for many more days to come. 


Response from Nicole Flendt, A/ Executive Director, Women and Newborn Health Service, North Metropolitan Health Service 2 months ago
Nicole Flendt
A/ Executive Director, Women and Newborn Health Service,
North Metropolitan Health Service
Submitted on 04/08/2021 at 15:54
Published on Care Opinion at 15:55

Dear kkkk,

Thank you for reaching out to us via Care Opinion to share your experience with the Women and Newborn Health Service (WNHS). I am sorry that your babty's birth and the days that followed were traumatic and that you have been negatively affected.

I am glad to hear you received comfort and support from staff on the ward, though it is disappointing to read that this care and empathy did not continue throughout your stay at King Edward Memorial Hospital (KEMH), leaving you feeling isolated and frightened during an already stressful time. This is not the level of care we aim for at WNHS.

I would also like to sincerely apologise that you felt alone during a traumatic time due to the visiting hours restrictions at KEMH. Here at KEMH, we are doing everything we can to ensure our new mums and their families are safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. With this being said, I empathise with your situation and understand that these restrictions would have impacted the amount of support you had from family members.

There are exceptional circumstances in which extra support for patients, extended visiting hours or extra visitor/s need to be considered, and I am sorry that your individual needs were not considered on your arrival to KEMH.

The WNHS Executive group constantly review our restrictions and feedback that is received by our patients and their families. This feedback is reviewed in conjunction with the restrictions set out by the Department of Health and State Government, which allows us to make informed decisions for our patients and the community. I thank you for providing me with your feedback, which I can assure you has been taken very seriously.

I understand that this experience has negatively affected you; should you wish to, you can contact our Consumer Liaison Service so that an in-depth, personalised investigation can be undertaken for you. You can contact this service on (08) 6458 1444.

I would like to apologise to you once again and thank you for taking the time to provide us with your feedback. I wish you and your family all the best for the future.

Kind regards,

Nicole Flendt
A/Executive Director

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