"Poor aftercare at Queens Hospital Maternity Unit"

About: Queen's Hospital / Maternity care

(as the patient),

I have a story about the Maternity Unit at Queens Hospital in Romford Essex. I have been unfortunate enough to have been subjected to bad experiences twice in 2 years now at Queens.

In 2008 I had my first child by emergency C-section. I was planning a nice calm home water birth, but my waters broke and no labour progressed, so I presented at Queens hospital in Romford, as my baby was at risk of infection.

I was induced twice with peccaries. Then I was left in an out-patients waiting room full of expectant mothers for 20 minutes in my nightwear and in labour whilst I awaited a scan to see how much water was around my baby. I felt this was embarrassing for myself, my husband and the awaiting out-patients. There was no fluid around the baby.

I endured an excruciating 14 hour labour before the medical staff realised that my pelvis was too small to deliver. From what I understand the reason that they thought I was ok to deliver was because my feet were a size 5! My baby nearly died during this time.

During the labour I was given 2 Epidurals. I begged for hours for the first Epidural which when finally administered, was inserted incorrectly, my leg shot up in the air involuntary and the pain never went away. Both my husband and I were scared as we knew that this was a dangerous situation. The anaesthetist seemed to be panicking, they shouted at me and left the room quickly. Even though I communicated that the epidural was not working to medical staff many times, lt was left that way for 4 hours before being corrected. I was in extreme agony and was being internally examined on a regular basis.

Then a male student came and asked to observe. My husband told him strongly that he could not. I was astonished that in such a sensitive situation I would be asked if I could have spectators. My husband tracked down the anaesthetist and found him taking casually with a nurse, he had strong words, which was when he made a reappearance.

The second time, the Epidural was inserted correctly. I was given a drip to induce again when I was fully dilated, as my baby would not descend. My baby's heart-rate dropped and I signed a form for an emergency C-Section. During the operation, I was conscious. I was violently sick over the scrub nurse, as she told me that I was not going to vomit and did not get a bowl in time. I was aware that my blood pressure was dropping, as I was losing a lot of blood. I could hear a panicked conversation by the surgical staff. All I could worry about was whether my baby was alive. After my daughter was taken out, (she was ok), I started to feel pain, which was getting worse. My uterus was on the outside of my body as I had lost a lot of blood. I knew this, as one of the surgical staff had told me. This was terrifying to know, as I was feeling the pain worse and worse. My husband and I were both panicking. I felt my husband was mislead to get him out of the operating theatre by hospital staff. I finished off on gas and air as I was put back together and stitched up.

During my stay I felt I received atrocious after care from the midwives. I was actually insulted by one of them. I felt she scolded me for asking for painkillers and for trying to talk about my ordeal. The midwife told me that I was not the only woman to have a C-Section and that I was not the only one that needed painkillers. She also made a comment about my husband which disturbed me. I told her that my husband had skin to skin contact with my daughter. She told me that was only for the mother and asked me if my husband had undressed my daughter. I felt like she was accusing him of something.

I had trouble breastfeeding due to the distress and discomfort. The breastfeeding midwife merely pushed my daughter to my breast again and again until my daughter and I were both crying. I asked her to stop, she kept trying, and after this method was not working she left us alone. (I managed to breastfeed when I got home with the help tot my community midwife).

I complained to PALS but I felt fobbed off.

My daughter had a dent on her head when she was born where she was pushing against my pelvis bone due to the violent contractions caused by being induced. This evened out with breastfeeding. She has had no further problems. I had nightmares for a while about the surgery. I felt quite depressed for a while and suffered mild sciatica, which I managed with hot baths and over the counter pharmacy medications.

I had another child in January 2010 by Elective C-section. My son was so big that I nearly went into spontaneous labour twice before my C-section date. My local midwife told me to rest for 2 months before my due date, as there was a danger of going into labour. I suffered pelvic pain and abdominal pain and could not bear to lie down, so I slept in a chair for the last 2 months of my pregnancy which was very uncomfortable. I was told by a Junior Doctor at the antenatal clinic in the Hospital that I would probably be considered for a Vaginal birth after caesarean (VBAC) if I presented in labour. This caused me considerable distress. Then my actual consultant wanted to bring the date of the operation forward by 1 week because of the risk of going into labour before the operation date, but the Maternity Matron would not fit me in. I was taken into a side room to calm down as I was crying in view of other patients.

I luckily was able to hold onto my baby until the date of the operation. On the day, my bloods were lost 3 times, delaying the op further. 2 other patients went before me, I was supposed to be the first of the morning. I had an Epidural and Spinal. The surgery was fine, but my back spasmed violently afterwards. I was in considerable pain and was only given pracetamol. When I asked a midwife for something stronger, she told me I had a low pain threshold. When I saw the doctor he gave me codine. I felt that I, again, received bad aftercare from the midwives who treated me during my stay. On one occasion I was felt bullied by a member of staff was and physically pulled out of bed to empty my catheter bag in the toilet. I was not ready to walk and was awaiting my dose of painkillers. As this was against my will, this to my mind amounts to assault. I told her that I was not ready, but she made me do it by physically pulling me out of bed and across the room. She told me she had to do this due to guidelines.

I got the impression that the hospital was short staffed, another patient and I tried to help each other when we could. I was left with blood and urine in my bed for 24 hours. (My catheter leaked twice from staff failure to empty even though I communicated that this needed doing and my maternity pad was not changed).

One night there was only 1 midwife on duty, between 8 C-section patients. She told us that we had to do everything for ourselves, as she was the only one there. Luckily the dayshift midwife had not gone home yet. I spoke to her about this and told her that I was not happy. She made some phone calls and got 2 agency nurses for us. Despite this, I still felt neglected at times, as there was an emergency that night.

I could not feed my baby or even pick him up as my back was spasming and I could not risk dropping him. The nurses would not help as they were too busy. Another patient limped over and handed my son to me. He was crying because he was hungry. I tried to breastfeed him, but I could not due to pain and stress, so he had to go hungry. I comforted him and slept with him in my bed until morning. (I managed to breastfeed when I got home, but only for 2 weeks as the distress affected my milk flow).

I complained again to PALS in 2010 about my second stay at Maternity, but again I felt fobbed off.

My local Paper Romford Recorder did a short but fair article on it. It does not contain as much detail as I have given in this summary. I have copies of my letters of complaints and the letters that I received back from Queens Hospital.

I now have suffered from severe sciatica since the birth of my second child. I also have continuous backache. I believe that the incorrectly administered epidural in 2008 left me with sciatica and the further spinal and epidural in 2010 aggravated the problem further. I will receive Physio Therapy and I get prescribed strong painkillers, (which leave me drowsy at times). The sciatica is unpredictable and I dread it as it is more severe every time. It goes from my lower back, through my buttock, leg, ankle and foot, leaving the left side of my foot and toes numb. It lasts for around 2 weeks. This renders me unable to walk when it is at its worse and I can only lie down.

I also suffer from depression, partly post-natal and partly to do with a build up of pressures over the past 2 years. I was even depressed during my second pregnancy. I believe that the way that I was treated in hospital at both births in 2008 and 2010 has very strongly contributed to my depression. I have anxiety. I am prescribed Prozac for the depression and Diazapam for the anxiety. The diazapam also works for my back. I am on a waiting list for counseling. Thankfully, I have a very good GP, whom I hold in high regard. .

At my son's 8 week check with my GP it was noticed that my son's movements were jerky, shaky and he seemed to be very random in his movements. He was under a peadiatrian for a few months. I was worried that he had been born with brain damage due to the stress during the pregnancy, as the problem seemed to be neurological. He eventually caught up and his motor movements are absolutely normal now. I believe that he was probably born stressed out, as studies have shown that the stress hormone cortisan can cross the placenta if the levels are high and consistant. He is also now believed to suffer from asthma. I have asthma medications for him and he will receive blood tests. I am now reducing his dairy intake to see if that makes a difference. He is under the vigilant care of my GP and a peadiatrician.. I will always wonder if the fact that I could not breastfeed my son due to stress has contributed to this and also the fact that I suffered considerable stress during my pregnancy with him.

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