"Appalled by my postnatal care"

About: Sunderland Royal Hospital / Maternity

(as the patient),

I couldn't fault the staff who physically brought my daughter into the world. They were very approachable, very friendly, and openly answered all of my questions as honestly as possible - I coldn't have had a better birthing experience.

But the 'care' going into my room - absolutely atrocious! I was so appalled by 'our care' I seriously considered retraining as a midwife. I don't know if the midwives I had the misfortune to come into contact with were just too used to dealing with teen single mums, I was frowned upon for asking for things, asking questions and woe betide me for having an opinion!

As a first time new mum at the age of 39, having undergone years of fertility problems and treatment, believe me I'd done my research on everything. I did wish to try breastfeeding and when it wasn't working (my baby had no problem latching on - it was me and my body that was letting my little one down), my requests for a bottle to feed my ever more hungry baby were totally ignored - instead I was simply told to 'keep trying' and was literally bombarded with 'breast feeding helpers'. No one listened. I, and certainly my daughter didn't need help latching on!

As my daughter became hungrier by the day (yes days!) my daughter's cries were becoming all the more urgent, and the midwives were quick to come in and tell me off for having a hungry baby. I knew that due to having a c-section (for medical reasons) my body was still thinking it was pregnant, hence the need for daily injections to reduce my uterus and kick in the hormones for the milk fairy.

I was told that these injections had to be administered at the same time daily, but having had to request that day's injection my request, just like all requests for formula milk, were ignored. When the staff shifts changed I again requested my injection, I had to insist that I hadn't had my injection that day, but there was nothing to backup my 'claims' as there was nothing on my notes... in fact there wasn't even a prescription for it, so the midwife concerned was very put out that she'd have to find a doctor to sign a fresh prescription.

My friend was also admitted to Sunderland Royal Hospital and had given birth naturally, and had been told I'd already gone home, upon receiving her text to say she was still in hospital - we arranged for me to have a slow walk to her room to meet her new born.

The only time Mums are allowed to leave their room was to collect their rubberised toast on a morning! So having a saunter along the corridor was going to give me a break from my 'jail cell'... I left my daughter in the care of her Daddy, who knew exactly which room number I'd be in, I had my mobile phone with me, and he could always press the buzzer for a midwife if he really had to - I was gone no longer than 10 minutes and I got a right dressing down for 'leaving my baby unattended'.

My poor hungry baby spent yet another very restless night tossing, turning and crying, I tried for 6 solid hours to try and extract some nutrients from my body - but not a drop was forthcoming - exhausted and in complete despair I called my husband in the middle of the night in tears begging him to bring formula milk and sterilised bottles.

Yes, we were caught red handed giving our very appreciative daughter our contraband milk. It was immediately confiscated and the midwife reluctantly handed over a different brand of milk. When I protested that I wanted the other brand, as we had it at home, I was met with the stern words that while I was in hospital I had to do as I was told, and even if I had cow and gate at home, I'd have to deal with the consequences of my baby's poorly tummy at home, as I was going to be given what they wanted to give me.

I had dreamt for over 15 years of having a family, and my experience of post natal care - well, it totally spoiled what should have been the happiest time of my life. I felt I was treated with utter contempt - told off regularly, for changing my baby's nappy on the bed, being only 5 foot tall, with a large c-section incision, I physically couldn't reach into the cot to change the nappy - on the bed however I could have it at the exact height which was comfortable for me - and everything was laid out ready so I literally didn't take my eyes off her during the whole process.

I feel too much emphasis was put into bullying women to breastfeed, and not enough emphasis on what you as a Mum think is best for you and your baby. At the end of the day, the midwives I came into contact with either had no experience of being pregnant / having babies or a mother's instinct... and some seemed intent on exerting their authority and completely disregarding the 'caring side' of their profession.

If I was ever in a position to be facing giving birth again, I would go to a hospital further afield, even living near to Sunderland Royal - my husband and I would have no qualms whatsoever in travelling to a hospital further away if it meant the level of care would be what we would like and indeed expect to find at our local hospital. Or I'd sign both myself and my daughter out.

And just to give me good measure, we were forced to endure yet another night in that dreadful environment as the nurses were intent on taking my baby's temperature when she wasn't swathed in a million blankets - citing we couldn't go home, due to baby not being able to maintain her body temperature.

The day after we got home, my daughter was taken into hospital as the health visitor was extremely concerned that my daughters weight had dropped dramatically since her initial birth weight of only 6lb 3.5oz. So well done Sunderland Royal - you did my daughter and I proud - and yes, your comments in my notes that I was "unhappy and confrontational" gave me a chuckle. If that makes me a caring loving mother who wants to do the very best for her longed for child, I'm guilty as charged.

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