Retraumatising Survivors

This is a truly heart breaking story, no woman should be subjected to this treatment, and most definitely not survivors of abuse, who are retraumatised in the process. It also seems this poster is still being coerced in her second birth and not given all her options. This is just not good acceptable practice.

“I wanted to share my experience when being induced. This will be quite long so I hope that it is allowed or it may not be able to be shared but I feel this is quite a healing process for me anyway to type it all out so I hope you don’t mind. This happened in November 2018 when I had my first born.

I had a very difficult pregnancy with lots of complications and did have to have surgery at 27 weeks pregnant as there was concern that myself and my son could lose our lives. After I had my surgery the concern was essentially gone and my pregnancy remained relatively normal afterwards and I had regular growth scans. I was 39+3 and saw my consultant after a scan she said she believed I needed to be induced, I never really had a clear answer as to why and being on my own and anxious I didn’t even question it or even ask why she thought I needed to be induced despite expressing throughout my pregnancy and it being in my birth plan I really didn’t want to be induced and would like to avoid it as much as possible but I just assumed I had to be for the safety of myself and baby as I didn’t know any better then and didn’t even know coercion in healthcare was a thing, I was extremely naive.

After getting quite emotional, crying and saying “Do I really have to be induced?” I was simply told yes it was necessary and that I’ll be called soon to arrange the day I come in. The night before my induction I hadn’t slept very well because I was so upset about being induced and was nervous. Once I came in to the hospital I had a student midwife which wasn’t an issue I know they need to learn but I was asked if she could attempt to put my pessary in, I agreed to this but it turned into fifteen minutes of her unable to get it in the right place and basically having her hand in and out of me as every time she removed her hand the pessary came out, and then the qualified midwife putting her hand in too to make sure the student had done it right saying “That was very difficult so it might fall out or not be as effective”.

As somebody who has been sexually assaulted in the past I did get quite tearful from the experience. I was in significant pain throughout the 24 hour pessary and made to feel like I was being dramatic, as one midwife said “real labour is worse than this, you’ll know when you’re in labour” after 22 hours my pessary fell out and was told I needed to be checked if I’d made any progress.

A new midwife on the night shift who was very cold towards me said my cervix was hard and unfavourable and I hadn’t dilated at all, during this VE I shouted out in pain and shuddered my body away from the midwife as the pain was awful, to which she pulled a face and said “it shouldn’t hurt this much” this obviously made me very disheartened too to hear that I hadn’t progressed as I had been awake for well over 30 hours without any sleep. I then said I really wanted to go home and I was not happy and in a lot of pain.

The midwife said “Well you’re here now and your baby needs to be born so it wouldn’t be the best option to be going home now would it” I was hysterically crying at this point, in pain, feeling violated, and very tired saying I just wanted to go home and get some rest and could I not come back another time.

The midwife then opened the second pessary and said “I’ve opened the pessary now and these cost a lot of money so we’re going to have to go ahead and do it” when she put the pessary in it really did cause me to roar as I was obviously very tense and unhappy.

After two hours of the new pessary being in I was too afraid to ask for pain relief for how they had made me feel with my last pessary I sat in complete silence dealing with what was actual contractions and tensing my entire body and not allowing myself to vocalise or even cry because I thought I was ‘being a wimp’ and not realising that I was in labour until my bloody show came. I called the midwife and she did another VE and said I was 7 centimetres, I had to walk across to the labour ward in front of other health care workers, peoples partners and other pregnant women whilst contracting with blood and urine going everywhere which was humiliating.

Once we got to the room I was told I didn’t have time for an epidural because it was handover. I never planned for an epidural but because I had been awake for so long and was so tired and had gone the entire time with only paracetamol I wanted a break to allow me some rest in between.

After persisting this was the only time I felt really listened to and had an epidural given to me, unfortunately unable to sleep well because people were in and out of my room all day – and lots of other issues in between such as being diagnosed with pre-eclampsia in labour so having to have the epidural taken off of me as they were placing me on a fluid limit, I was only allowed a sip of water every now and again and they were insisting I needed the hormone drip to be given so that is why the epidural was removed

I finally got to 10cm and still had to have a forceps delivery and episiotomy after trying to push for 2 hours to no avail, I was exhausted and falling asleep I suppose in between contractions. I never got asked if I wanted a forceps delivery or to be cut it was all just done for me and at the time felt this had to happen as again I did not know any better about them needing my consent.

After all of this I was in the hospital for 3 days unable to get up to bathe or shower or even be offered any help in washing and couldn’t physically do it myself due to the pain I was in. I couldn’t even wear clothes as I had a ridiculous fever and was being told “I shouldn’t be in this much pain as I haven’t even had a C-section” I refused to go home as I felt I wasn’t right in my gut.

Eventually my partner mentioned that I had a very weird smell to me and that he felt I was very delirious, I was still struggling to sleep after I had my son because of how much he was clusterfeeding and the pain I was in. A midwife came in and asked if anyone had checked my perineum since I’d had my son or even offered to check. I said no in which she said “there is a tick list that they sign to say they’ve offered you a check which they should do with every intervention”.

At this point I asked if she would check me because I didn’t feel right down there, in which she got a doctor and they said they were very sorry but I had had an infection, my wound had broken down and all my stitches had fallen out, this led to a very big downward spiral in my physical and mental well-being, I was put on IV antibiotics rapidly, and was probably very close to septic shock as my blood pressure was extremely low, I struggled to keep myself conscious and was very clammy.

Fast forward I finally got a private room where my partner was able to stay and help me take care of my newborn baby, but I was struggling with being on 6 days of very little sleep and began having horrific auditory and visual hallucinations – the midwives said this was baby blues.

After being in for 2 weeks in hospital feeling extremely neglected and downhearted by my experience and not even being allowed to be wheeled around the hospital off of the unit with my baby by my partner for a change of scenery I vowed to myself I never wanted to give birth at a hospital again – and did struggle with post natal depression afterwards with my son and pain for about six months of my perineum which really affected my ability to take care of my son and socialise out of the house which of course did not help the PND.

Unfortunately, I am under consultant care for my baby that I’m 32 weeks with now and find going to the hospital very triggering and have been told my baby is breech so I may not be able to have the home birth I want if she doesn’t turn and I am told I will probably need a csection despite that being the very last thing I want – I am under the same consultant so of course I am feeling very fearful of my avenues with this baby.

I am slowly educating myself though and hope I can feel empowered with my decisions this time and have confidence in them.

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