"The system in maternity wards is broken"

About: St John's Hospital / Maternity care

(as a relative),

My wife gave birth to our beautiful little girl by c-section on the Thursday afternoon. The staff were excellent and really kind. I was able to be with my wife all day, to support her emotionally and be on hand whenever she needed me to do anything for her - obviously she was still in a lot of pain and any movement was very difficult. That meant I could pass her our daughter for feeding, help her latch on, changed her nappy, etc etc. All was well. But the night is a competently different story! Partners have to leave at 9pm, and then basically the mothers are on their own. During the first night my wife was able to buzz for help and a midwife or support worker would usually come and help. But our daughter wouldn't sleep in her cot - my wife hardly slept all night. The second day was fine - I was there to help all day, but my wife couldn't sleep on the noisy ward. So she was utterly exhausted. The second night was horrendous. I overheard a midwife saying "we're understaffed, there's only two of us on tonight for the whole ward". My wife got very little help, our daughter wouldn't sleep, my wife got no sleep. At one point I called the ward to ask if I could come and get them - but was told no way during the night. I've got no problem with the hospital staff - they all did their best and did it warmly. The problem is the set up of the ward. It's totally contradictory to keep someone in hospital but not give them the care they need. My wife needed someone there to support her emotionally, to hold our daughter while she cried, to change nappies, help with feeds etc etc, and you don't need a nursing degree to do that - you just need to be there! The midwives and support workers couldn't do that for her because they're covering dozens of women. So our daughter either screamed or needed cuddles from an awake mummy. So another night of no sleep - it's like torture! All the while with a stomach that's in agony every time she moved. So here's the point: 1. The maternity ward should be set up so partners can stay to help. I could easily have slept in the chair (if there was any sleep to be had). But since that's never going to happen... 2. DON'T STAY ON THE MATERNITY WARD ANY LONGER THAN YOU NEED MEDICAL CARE. You're much better off at home where you can can round the clock 1-2-1 help. My wife *was* told she could go home after the first night if she wanted, but she was in agony from her section, and was scared to go home while in such pain. That was our mistake. The one thing I have against the staff is that they should have told us that my wife would be *better cared for at home* - since what she needed was not medical help but a slave!

Do you have a similar story to tell? Tell your story & make a difference ››


Response from Lynsey McMillan, Team Manager - Complaints & Feedback, Patient Experience Team, NHS Lothian

Dear FrustratedSeptember16,

Firstly, please accept my congratulations on the birth of your daughter.

I am so sorry to read what happened to your wife and during her stay at St John's Hospital, Livingston.

We would like to look into this for you and wonder if you can please contact the Patient Experience Team:


Telephone: 0131 536 3370

Post: 2 - 4 Waterloo Place, Edinburgh, EH1 3EG

I look forward to hearing from you

Kind regards


  • FrustratedSeptember16 thinks this response is helpful
    {{helpful-1}} of {{totalOthers()}} other people think so too