I wanted to share my story as I’d read one that was very similar. My son was born at St George’s almost two years ago. I was never very happy with my ante-natal care, but it appeared to be about par. I was very overdue and was made to feel by the midwives that I was putting them to some inconvenience. I spoke to one consultant during that time (the only time during my entire pregnancy!) and he was really good.
I was in severe pain by the time I went into labour. I suspected that it was because of a UTI I contracted during the cervical sweep because the midwife didn’t use sterile gloves, but I don’t know that for sure. At any rate, the pain was bladder pain and pain during urination not labour pain. I had to beg to be admitted to the hospital and get some gas and air after my water broke again not for the contractions but for the bladder pain. I did eventually get some, but was left to labour in a room unattended a whole night because I hadn’t reached their threshhold of dilation.
I then had to move to an official (and not as nice) room. My labour was very slow progressing so even after I officially got there, I went through three full shifts of midwives. The first was ok, although she pressured me into having a drip to intensify my contractions (which I hadn’t wanted). The second was very nice. The last one was awful, spoke about me, not to me, cold, rude and neglectful. She couldn’t even be bothered to take my blood pressure but put it on the automatic cuff without telling me.
Eventually I had to have an emergency c-section.
The postnatal ward was awful. It was extremely hot, noisy, I hadn’t slept in three days at this point and was beyond exhaustion. It didn’t seem very clean. I was in a bay away from a window and was really suffering from the heat (this was during a particularly hot few days in June 2007). I was tired and in pain, uncomfortable and lonely after visiting hours.
When the postnatal midwife refused to give me another dose of painkillers (I understand why that was) she suggested I have a dose of morphine instead. I agreed. But then I thought, if I’m knocked out in this chaos, who’s going to look after my baby? And I had wanted to breast feed and was worried about the effects of the morphine. So I told her I had changed my mind.
She was very put out by that because apparently that would cause her all kinds of paperwork difficulty (!). So she brought the ward sister round who screamed at me for having the curtains closed after I told her it was hot and I reminded her that I couldn’t even get out of bed to close the curtains. The sister also used foul language at me and I was seriously scared that they were going to inject me with morphine against my will. Which fortunately they didn’t. But I was frightened and worried the whole night. And I was shocked that I’d been sworn at by a health care “professional”.
This troubled me for a long time and eventually I complained about it to the hospital. I recognise that some time had passed before I complained, but the hospital accepted my complaint and I received an acknowledgement. Since then I have heard nothing, although I followed up with a visit to the PALS office and a follow up email.
The reason I’m sharing this now, even though it happened two years ago, is I saw that St George’s offered another patient the opportunity to complain about her labour and postnatal experience (which was of similar poor quality to mine, but different things happened).
I would encourage the other patient to complain, but don’t hold your breath. They clearly don’t respond to complaints and they clearly haven’t tried to make any changes in two years since this other person’s story was on a level with mine but only happened a few weeks ago.