"Labour, Birth and Post-natal care at Elizabeth Garrett Anderson"

About: University College Hospital Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Wing

(as the patient),

I gave birth to my first child, a baby boy, at Elizabeth Garrett Anderson one Tuesday last November and am still traumatised by the experience.

Labour was a long, slow process. I was admited to the labour ward 36 hours after my waters had broken, despite turning up at the hospital three times only to be sent away again. My contractions were extremely painful but seemed to be ineffetive as I wasn't more than 1cm dilated. I was given an epidural, oxytocin. Some time after that I began to feel cold and shivery and a quick temperature reading confirmed I had a fever. Due to my prolonged rupture of the membranes I was given intravenous antibiotics to stave off any possible infection. Ten or so hours later an internal examination determined that I was ten centimetres dilated and I could feel the babies head bearing down. Despite that the midwife left the room to attend to an emergency situation with another patient. Shortly after this the fetal heart monitor alarm began sounding. When no-one came I sent my partner to find someone. Another lady, who I assume was a mid-wife, came in, looked at the machine and pressed a button to stop it ringing. This happended again several times until my mid-wife came back to the room. She was joined by an SHO and three student mid-wives. I started to become very uneasy when the midwife told me the baby was in distress and that I needed to 'get the baby out' as soon as possible. She then asked the SHO to page the registrar. When he didn't respond to the pager the midwife became demonstrably worried and anxious, and was clearly angered by the registrars absence. When he finally turned up (40 minutes after being paged) he told me he needed to deliver the baby quickly so would be using a ventouse and I would perform an episiotomy. It was at this stage that one of the student mid-wives pointed out that there was no oxygen in the resusitaire. There was obvious tension and animosity between the mid-wife and the two doctors with the registrar complaining to the SHO that the mid-wife's panicking was completely unncecssary. As the registrar was performing my episiotomy he said to the SHO 'these instruments are like something from the third world' - which didn't exactly inspire confidence! Throughout this time I was in a state of sheer panic and horror - although according to my partner appeared to be relatively calm. I was sure my baby was going to be born dead. When my son was born and I put him to my breast I noticed he was shivering. After determining that he had a fever he was rushed up to have a lumber puncture and blood tests to rule out infection. After the birth I was left lying on a blood soaked bed on my own (I had lost 500mls of blood) for more than two hours. Finally the cleaner came and replaced my sheets and helped me to walk to the shower, all the time dripping blood all over the floor. I had to walk past the reception desk to get to the shower where I saw the registrar and midwife sitting behind the desk talking.

The paediatrician brought my baby back down an hour or so later and informed me that he had high CRP levels, an indicator of infection, and because the circumstances leading up to the birth (prolonged rupture of the membranes, fever during labour) he had suspected scepsis. He was prescribed intravenous penicilin and gentamicine. We stayed in hospital for 6 days before his CRP levels returned to approaching normal and we were allowed to leave. As there was no space in the transitional unit we were in the ward with other mothers who had delivered without complication and were being discharged after 12 or so hours. In the time we were there my sons temperature was only taken four times and he received no care at all from most of the midwives. I found them uncaring and rude. On day three I was feeling worse that I was on day one. I could barely walk down the corridor because I was so breathless. The midwife came to my bed and told me there'd been a mistake on my notes. My bloodloss had been recorded as 300ml rather than 500ml. I got a very brisk and rude response to my request for a blood test. When the results came back my iron levels were extremely low (just over 8) so I was presribed iron tablets -- surely they should have reacted to my low iron levels sooner?

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