“LACK OF MIDWIVES POSE THREAT TO MOTHERS AND BABIES”
This is the headline that flashed before me today as I drove home from work. My local paper. My local hospital. The people I trusted to care for me. It felt like a slap in the face as if I somehow expected that I was the only one in this town that had suffered at this hospital. I know I’m not. It happened to me twice at the same place. But somehow seeing it in black and white, nearly fifteen months on… somehow it makes it so real. And so sad. So awful that this place is yet to provide the care that so many women and their babies need. Even more worrying is that the closure of two maternity units close by (including the unit where both my niece and nephew spent their first days, fighting for their lives in SCBU) means that this hospital is to become a so-called ‘super maternity unit’.
The hospital that failed my children has today been described as a “volcano ready to erupt” when, for me, that already happened. One midwife has been quoted as saying
“Staffing on all areas could be better but it’s the postnatal wards that are really short-staffed. There is one midwife on each ward at night if we are lucky, looking after up to 17 women and babies. Sometimes there is one midwife for both wards. It is very dangerous and not manageable at all.”
The night the baby was born there was one midwife on duty and one student midwife. No wonder I felt ignored. I WAS ignored; they had no choice. The night the baby was born, I was left in a daze, with a screaming baby and screaming pain every time I tried to pick him up.
The article in my local paper goes on to quote from a spokesman for parental support charity The National Childbirth Trust and says:
“Post-natal care is so important; if not resolved physical and psychological problems can have an impact on the woman’s quality of life and relationship with her baby.”
You’re telling me. I didn’t want to take my baby home with me. I didn’t know how to relate to him as the baby that had been safe inside me for so long. Once I entered that hospital, he was no longer safe.
Directing more women to this maternity unit, which is already failing to cope, will not solve this problem. When I divulged the fact that my delivery room had no curtains on a day when work men were directly outside the room, I was told to complain. When I revealed that the gas and air cannister had no mouth piece and the special clip they needed to attach to my baby’s head had no power outlet fixed on to it- I was told to complain. When I mentioned that there were no pillows on the bed, no crib for the baby and no spare birthing kits in the room, I was told to complain. When I cried that I was sent home before I was ready, with no pain relief and no explanation of what had hit me, I was told to complain. When I cried that I had been left alone for hours despite being told I was high risk and that they would monitor me every two hours, I was told to complain.
When I said that I was too scared to complain, I let myself down. But this hospital is still letting women down. This is why Maternity Matters is so important to me and I hope that you will support us too. Because at the end of the day, maternity care matters.