Update: On August 5, 2016, after an intense two-week trial, a jury in Alabama unanimously returned a verdict in favor of Caroline and JT Malatesta, with an award–including punitive damages–in the amount of $16 million (read about it here). The Malatestas’ attorney, Rip Andrews, said in his closing arguments, “We want corporations to know that reckless behavior will always be more expensive to them than safe behavior.” With this award, the jury sent that message.
You may have seen Caroline Malatesta’s story on Yahoo! Parenting. It’s a story that will hit home for a lot of people who have experienced maternity care mistreatment: Caroline says that the services and care she received at her hospital were vastly different from what was promised during her prenatal care. She ended up with a permanent nerve injury and chronic pain; she no longer has the ability to have sex or more children after she was, she alleges, wrestled on to her back during a “power struggle” with a nurse–as her baby’s head was forcefully held inside her for six minutes.
Caroline gave birth in Alabama, a place where women and advocates report hospital birth practices are decades behind research and the rest of the country; and where there are virtually no other options. There are no birth centers, and out-of-hospital midwifery care is illegal.
Here is Caroline’s story, in her words. When you’re done reading what she has to say, read what these nurses have to say about the abuse they’ve witnessed against women giving birth, and this piece about the dysfunction underlying so much of it.
I was 32 and pregnant with my fourth child when Brookwood Medical Center launched its marketing campaign for its new Women’s Center. I had delivered my first three babies at St. Vincent’s Hospital, its local competitor, and was planning to have my fourth baby there as well.
But I, like many other women in the community, found this new marketing campaign so captivating. It came from all angles – billboards, TV segments, news articles, websites, a blog, and even celebrity appearances. They were using phrases like “personalized birth plan,” “it’s about that birthing plan . . . whatever you want out of your birthing plan,” “a place that respects your birth plan,” “all about supporting and empowering women,” “all about comfort and choice,” “autonomy,” “We’re here to support each mom’s birth plan,” “wireless monitoring that will enable mothers to walk around during labor,” “[Wireless monitors] allow our patients to not be confined to their bed for the duration of their labor. They’re able to be mobile,” “a dedicated water birthing suite and amenities designed for natural child birthing plans,” and “staff trained extensively in assisting un-medicated delivery.”
No other hospital in town so much as mentioned such progressive concepts (and it should be noted that assisted out-of-hospital births aren’t legal here in Alabama).
This all came at a time when more of my friends around the country were beginning to have babies, and I was beginning to realize just how differently birth was handled elsewhere. Before then, I didn’t know there were options. I was hearing of friends being allowed to move around during labor, use the restroom, drink water, avoid stirrups, and birth in different positions. I always had been confined to the bed with a bedpan or catheter, only allowed to eat ice chips, and on my back in stirrups for delivery. I always was prepped from the waist down with surgical cloths and washed with antiseptic prior to delivery. I just figured that’s how childbirth was done everywhere. Lots of these friends had natural births, and talked about them positively. They didn’t have routine interventions and their recoveries seemed faster.
This sounded wonderful, and now these options were available to me! All I had to do was switch hospitals.
I interviewed an OB/GYN at Brookwood during my first trimester. He told me the interventions I received during my first three births were unnecessary and risky. He criticized routine use of the drug pitocin (medication to speed up labor and control hemorrhage). He said there was no need to be confined to the bed, not even during monitoring. He explained how laboring in upright positions alleviates pain, increases blood flow, helps position the baby properly, and opens up the pelvis. He told me research showed no benefit in continuous monitoring for low risk women like me; in fact, intermittent monitoring was recommended. He told me that letting the normal physiological process play out would be safest for my baby and me—which aligned with all of the research I’d been doing. Finally, after much thought and prayer, I switched hospitals during my 20th week of pregnancy. I hired a doula, read a big stack of birth books, exercised, and ate a healthy diet. I carefully made a birth plan based on best medical research, approved by my doctor. I was ready!
Fast-forward to the night of baby Jack’s birth in 2012. After laboring freely at home for several hours through some mild contractions, I arrived at the hospital and met my nurse. And that’s when it all started:
“Put on your gown and use the restroom now because you won’t be able to get out of bed for the next twenty minutes, and possibly for the rest of your labor.”
“But my doctor said I could labor however I wanted.”
“Well, your doctor’s not on call.”
What?! The contradiction between the marketing and the reality was so shocking that for a second I thought to myself, have I walked into the wrong hospital? I knew there was no medical evidence for what she was asking me to do. I asked her where the birth tub was because my birth plan included water birth, and she informed me my room didn’t accommodate a tub. I told her over and over that my doctor promised me I could walk around during monitoring, but she continued demanding I get in the bed on my back so she could hook me up to the wired monitor instead of the wireless one I was promised.
I begrudgingly got in the bed on my back, hoping my doula would arrive at any minute and rescue me from this nonsense. Baby Jack’s heartbeat ticked along perfectly on the monitor, but being on my back felt wrong and it hurt so much more than when I had been free to move. I continued asking why I had to be on my back and saying I needed to move around, but she ignored my questions and demanded I obey her, as if I were a disobedient child. I could sense my husband’s anxiety mounting. As we went back forth — me asking questions and telling her this was more painful for me, and her getting increasingly irritated — it became very clear that this wasn’t about health or safety. It was a power struggle.
Suddenly, I felt a contraction coming on. I couldn’t bear the pain on my back any longer. I said “I can’t do this on my back!” and flipped over to my hands and knees. My water broke, and I realized the baby was crowning. My husband said, “I see his head!” I started arching my back while on all fours, and focused on slowly breathing out my baby. It all came so naturally—it felt right and safe and I knew my baby would be here any moment.
That’s when the nurse said, “Let’s get you on your back!” and everything went haywire. She grabbed my left wrist and forced it out from under me. I pulled back, but couldn’t escape her grip. She pulled my arm and rolled me over to my back. That is the moment I lost control over my birth. Forcing me to stay on my back was like forcing a person to hold their hand steady over an open flame – it was impossible for me to comply. The instinct to get off my back was overwhelming. I desperately tried to flip back to my hands and knees, struggling against the nurses to do so. The nurses held me down and pressed my baby’s head into my vagina to delay delivery as he was trying to come out.
It literally was torture. I screamed, “Stop!” to the nurses, but no one listened. The medical records summed up my reaction to the physical force quite well: “Unfortunately, the patient was not able to [act] in a controlled manner. She was pretty much all over the bed.” My doula ran in around this time. I looked at her in desperation and pled, “Help me!” but she could not. This went on for six minutes—me struggling, the nurses physically holding baby Jack in my body—when the doctor arrived. The nurse let go of baby Jack’s head, and he was born immediately into the doctor’s hands. I vividly remember the moment his head popped out. My right foot was planted firmly on the bed, elevating my hips as I tried to get off my back one last time, and a nurse was pushing my left leg awkwardly and asymmetrically toward my chest, causing me horrible pain.
So that’s how my precious child entered this world. As if birthing a baby isn’t hard enough, I gave birth while engaged in a physical struggle against the people I trusted to care for us.
To make matters worse, my first visitor was a lady from the billing department. There I was, having just given birth, and she walks in and says, “I’m here to talk to you about your bill.”
Despite the fact that Jack was a perfectly positioned little 6 lb 14 oz baby, and that I’ve delivered bigger babies at faster speed with no problem, I was injured badly. Because of the trauma I sustained from fighting while birthing, I now suffer from a permanent and debilitating nerve condition called Pudendal Neuralgia. My obstetrician called it the worst injury he has seen in all his decades of practice.
It has turned our family life upside down. I was a stay-at-home mother of four children, ages five and under, at the time Jack was born, and what happened to me during his birth left me unable to care for them as needed. I endure debilitating pain on a near daily basis—pain much worse than labor.
I never had any psychological issues before the birth, but was diagnosed with PTSD afterwards. The panic attacks first set in when the nerve pain flared. I didn’t know what was happening to me. My skin would burn, I would hyperventilate, and I’d feel like I needed to escape my body. Something as simple as seeing a pregnant woman could set off an attack. I had dramatic dreams of being held hostage in a hospital while trying to escape a plot to murder me. Apparently, this was my brain’s way of trying to process what happened.
I especially struggled with feeling betrayed. I had trusted the hospital with one of the most important and sacred events in my life, and was left feeling chewed up and spit out. At first, I only confided these feelings in my husband. I was worried people would think I was being dramatic, because it’s not socially acceptable to complain about your birth if you have a healthy baby. It took a diagnosis of a permanent condition, and being so debilitated that I spent months on end in bed, for me to feel like I could openly acknowledge these feelings of betrayal and have them taken seriously. As I’ve opened up, other women in my community have come to me with their own stories of being misled or mistreated. I’m realizing this feeling of betrayal isn’t unique to me; it’s disturbingly common.
My husband struggles with the birth as well. He had prepared to be my cheerleader, not my bodyguard. He thought my nurse must have seen a serious problem when she used physical force on me, and that our child was in grave danger. He felt like a deer in headlights. There’s not a day that goes by that he doesn’t beat himself up for trusting the nurse.
In my quest for emotional healing, I sought answers from the hospital. But their patient ‘advocate’ cut off communication with me, saying, “Risk management and several key individuals have declined your request for a meeting. I am truly, truly sorry from the bottom of my heart about what you have been going through. I hope you have a good day. Someone has walked into my office for a meeting, and I have to go now.” Click. She hung up on me.
Out of basic self-respect, I couldn’t just leave it there. I grew up in a medical family, and filing a lawsuit wasn’t something I wanted to do, but the hospital left me no choice. After months of frustration and being stonewalled, my husband and I finally filed a lawsuit for medical negligence and fraud against Brookwood Medical Center and its parent company, Tenet Healthcare Corporation.
You hear the term “empowerment” thrown around a lot when people talk about birth. My hospital used that term in its own marketing. While my birth may have been the most disempowering experience in my life, standing up for myself and holding a large corporation accountable is the most empowering thing I’ve ever done.
Several aspects of litigation have been emotionally hard, including having to answer deeply personal and sexual questions in deposition and having my personal emails sifted through by attorneys. But the hardest part by far is sitting in depositions as a passive spectator, and listening to people try to justify their actions even in the face of my clear refusal. It’s a creepy feeling to hear nurses and hospital administrators who sincerely believe they have the rights over my body. But as a conscious and medically competent patient, the doctrine of informed consent guarantees that even in an emergency situation (which mine was not), a medical provider must respect my refusal of treatment, right? It doesn’t matter what my nurse thought would be best in that situation, or even why, because my ‘no’ is all that mattered – period. But I’m learning that’s not always how it works in the world of maternity care.
While the hospital doesn’t dispute the fact that there was no emergency or immediate danger in my situation, the phrase “safety of the mother and baby” has been repeated, almost reflexively, as if merely saying those words means no explanation is needed. I have yet to hear a single legitimate or medically sound answer as to why denying me mobility and forcing me to my back was safest. And that’s because there’s no medical evidence to support it.
My baby’s safety was always my top priority, which is precisely why I created a birth plan in the first place. Had my hospital simply respected that plan, as promised, I would be a healthy and functional mother today, and my family’s life would be very different. My husband and I love our baby more than anyone in the world loves him, and certainly more than anyone else in the delivery room that night. So it’s insulting to hear the hospital – the very people who were capable of treating me so badly, capable of violently forcing me to my back, and capable of shutting me out when I needed answers to process it all emotionally – now claim that concern for my baby’s and my wellbeing was the motive behind their actions. I could speculate about the hospital’s real motivations – efficiency, protocol, convenience, profit, liability, insurance, or a combination. I can’t say for sure what their top priority was, but it wasn’t the long-term wellbeing of my baby or me. My one and only priority was our health. And that’s why I was in the best position to make informed decisions about my care.
I’ve learned through this lawsuit that the doctors and nurses in my case hadn’t seen the marketing being shown to the rest of our community, and were not informed by the hospital about the promises being made about their services. The hospital didn’t have a way to know a woman was under the care of one of their doctors until she actually arrived at the hospital for delivery, much less have a way to communicate with doctors during pregnancy about accommodating her “personalized birth plan”—even though they specifically advertised that offering.
Contrary to the advertising, my nurses did not recall being “trained extensively in assisting un-medicated delivery.” Even worse, the expectations created by the hospital’s marketing directly contradicted their own policies. They claimed I wouldn’t be confined to the bed and could walk around, yet had a standing order for bed rest. They claimed I could choose how I wanted to be monitored, yet had a standing order for continuous monitoring. They claimed I could choose a water birth, yet the vast majority of their doctors didn’t offer it, and they had no control over who was on call. They even continued to advertise water birth for nearly three years after officially banning it in their facility! They claimed I could choose not to have medication, yet had a standing order for the drug Pitocin. Indeed, I learned after requesting my records that I was given Pitocin without my knowledge. The dosage given to me was listed right under the doctor’s documentation of my explicit refusal.
So many women, myself included, are told “it’s best to be flexible because birth is unpredictable.” I believe this is one of the most abused phrases in childbirth when it comes to railroading women’s choices. Yes, birth is unpredictable, and an outcome never can be guaranteed. But let’s not confuse a service with an outcome. No provider can guarantee a healthy birth outcome, but they can guarantee they will provide evidence-based services and supportive measures to give you the best chance at achieving a healthy birth. My son’s birth was straightforward—my maternity care was where the surprises came.
My hospital waited until the delivery room to start hashing out for the first time discrepancies between marketing promises and policies. Women were left to “negotiate” their birth plans while in active labor. At best, a woman would experience unnecessary anxiety – at worst, she would be forced physically to comply. It seems my hospital is blaming the unpredictability of their services on the unpredictability of birth.
As I was driving across town recently, I saw the words “I decide how to have my baby” plastered across a billboard in bold colors. It was an ad by my old hospital. They had ditched their baby-centered slogan “where babies come from” in favor of a trendier “woman-centered” slogan. My current hospital sold women “choice,” “empowerment,” and “autonomy,” and now my old hospital was selling women the ability to make their own healthcare decisions. It’s as if they think these are privileges granted to women instead of basic patient rights.
Seeing that sign, I felt sick to my stomach and helpless. It’s like I could see my nightmare of a story playing out all over again with some other unsuspecting woman.
When specifically asked, my doctor at my old hospital had been honest about the various interventions I would have to agree to. He gave me his practice group’s birth plan, a one-page document outlining these required interventions, including continuous monitoring, IV fluids, and a recumbent birth position. But had I seen that “group birth plan” after having seen the hospital’s current marketing as a new patient, I would have been blindsided, because I would have assumed that, indeed, I could decide how I have my baby – meaning interventions were a choice, not a requirement. Is it any wonder that women in my community come out of their births feeling lied to and betrayed?
Then we are made to feel selfish for being upset about our birth experience – as if we aren’t grateful for a healthy child – as if an experience and health are mutually exclusive instead of directly correlated. Just ask my family how important a mother’s health, both emotional and physical, is for the wellbeing of her children. It’s crucial. Any provider capable of treating a mother with disrespect cannot claim they are acting out of some magnanimous concern for her child. Caring about a child means caring for its mother.
As glitzy maternity marketing campaigns continue popping up around the country, I’m concerned more and more women will be enticed by mother-targeted campaigns that aren’t backed up by mother-centered care, as I unfortunately was. True mother-centered care starts with the boots-on-the-ground, not in the marketing department. It starts with hospitals instilling a culture of respect for the birthing woman and the birthing process. It starts with transparency, evidence-based care, and collaborative care. And it results in better outcomes. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be the norm where I live, and until it is, “autonomy,” “choice” and “empowerment” are nothing but empty promises.
I may have little chance of making a real difference in the way large corporations and hospitals market maternity care. Who knows. But I’m hoping that maybe – just maybe – my lawsuit will make them think twice about lying to women giving birth.
// Caroline Malatesta
Read more about what some nurses have to say about the abuse they’ve witnessed against women giving birth, and the dysfunction underlying so much of this mistreatment.
A former communications strategist at a top public affairs firm in Baltimore, Maryland, Cristen Pascucci is the founder of Birth Monopoly, co-creator of the Exposing the Silence Project, and, since 2012, vice president of the national consumer advocacy organization Improving Birth. In that time, she has run an emergency hotline for women facing threats to their legal rights in childbirth, created a viral consumer campaign to “Break the Silence” on trauma and abuse in childbirth, and helped put the maternity care crisis in national media. Today, she is a leading voice for women giving birth, speaking around the country and consulting privately for consumers and professionals on issues related to birth rights and options.
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I am the woman in this story. I’m hearing from lots of women since the Yahoo and Birth Monopoly articles were published. Here is one message sent to me from another woman who birthed at the same hospital as me. Her child fell ONTO the floor (not just delivered over the floor) because staff were not prepared for water birth as advertised. Putting these women in precarious situations because the advertising doesn’t match up with the services actually offered is DANGEROUS! Healthcare is no place for marketing gimmicks.
You don’t know me but I just read your story on FB and was overwhelmed with empathy. I recently (in 2012) gave birth at Brookwood hospital and had a similar story. Basically I had left my doctor at St Vincents for the sole purpose of birthing in the Brookwood birthing tub. My doctor was very supportive but, like your experience, he was not on call so I was left with a doctor (and nurses) that, I can only assume, had little to no experience delivering an unmediated birth. She let me labor in the tub but when it came time to push I was made to get out (dripping wet and in the throws of pushing contractions). The end result was that my baby ended up being birthed on to the floor because no one was prepared and ready to catch him. The cord snapped, blood spraying everywhere etc…. My baby was alright thank heavens, but I remember I was made to feel as if it was my fault. I even had ordered copies of the medical notes after and there were false details about the medical staff urging me not to push etc…
I so feel for you and your experience. I can’t tell you how brave and courageous it is to tell your story. I stand behind you and wish you the best of luck with this.
My heart goes out to you Caroline and all the other women who have suffered disempowering and violent births in the current birth system. I have just finished writing a book on the Impact that birth has on the life we go on to lead and I am hoping that when it is published it will have an impact on the way the system operates. Birth is one of the most singularly empowering events a woman and a baby can experience and this is being taken away from most women in the over medicalised, misogynistic system that exists in the developed world. A lot of my work is focussed around the healing of birth (being born & giving birth). It is possible to heal this horrendously traumatic experience that you endured and the best possible course of action you can take. Please contact me if you would like to discuss this further as I truly hear your pain. I don’t normally subscirbe to the litigation culture, however I congratulate you on taking your power back and standing up to the bullies and profiteers that are so prevalent in the medical system.
Lynne I would love to read your book. I had my daughter in 2009, my first birth. I was very prepared and well educated about the type of birth I wanted (calm, no drugs, able to birth in any position I felt comfortable, doula present).
Unfortunately the OB on call couldn’t have cared less about what I wanted. He held me down physically and forcibly broke my water all whilst I was crying and physically trying to block my vagina with my hands.
At the point at which he assaulted me, I left my own body. I have no recollection of the rest of the birth and I didn’t bond with my daughter at all. I developed PTSD and PND as a result. I also somehow severed a pelvic nerve during the birth and am now forever numb from my hip to knee on my left hand side.
Within 18 months of my daughter being born, my life was gone. The depression caused my marriage to break down and I have cried every day since for what my life has become. 6 years now.
So the way that you are treated during birth has a MAJOR impact on the rest of your life. I only wish the medical professionals involved in childbirth properly understood this.
My goodness, I have heard some shockers, yours, oh, so so sorry. Number four! And you have not yet experienced the joy of pure, natural birth………… I learnt after two of mine………….. never ever on my back, ignore the doctor, ignore the nurse (unless her demands are quite reasonable!). Keep trying to make a change!
Hopefully your family was able to get justice, we live in Indiana and unfortunately our state sided with the doctors and even though I have injuries and my son had a brain injury and now has special needs it is not enough proof.
My story is no where near that bad, but I had a HORRIBLE HORRIBLE HORRIBLE experience at Brookwood Women’s Center in 2007. My doctors were great but the nurses were absolutely horrible and abusive! They treated me like I was a child as well, and that I had NO reason to be “hurting” because giving birth was a natural thing that ALL women went through and that I needed to relax and blah blah blah. They were mean and hateful and come to find out, my daughter was in fetal distress and I had to have an immediate emergency C-section. I would NEVER recommend Brookwood Hospital for birth to anyone EVER! Just because it was on the “right” side of town means nothing! I had my first daughter at Princeton and had the most WONDERFUL AMAZING nurses ever! If I were to have another child, I would hands down choose Princeton over Brookwood without blinking!
So sorry this happened to everyone ! Prayers for each of y’all … Sad truth is hospital’s are so under staffed these days as soon as someone is out of school even if they are only 20 they’re thrown into a hospital to care for people when they have no idea what they are doing !!! I was treated awful in 2014 with my 3rd child it wasn’t at brookwood .. They made me feel like I was a terrible person cause I was having yet another child !
Delaying the delivery until the ‘doctor’ is able to place hands on yo and the delivering head allows for a much higher charge – perhaps others have already mentioned this. I would bet that is what is behind this – I suspect OB nurses could confirm this.
Actually, if we, the labor nurse, deliver the baby the doctor still gets paid in full.
If our laborist physician delivers the baby, the original OB doesn’t get his full fee. That’s how it is in Texas anyway.
I live in Barcelona Spain and understand exactly how you feel although I was never baited. I made bad decisions based on difficult choices and ended up with an emergency cesarian in what should have been a straight forward birth. I am grateful for these sites where we can communicate and relieve that pain a little. Lots of love from me, Cathy.
I’ve been hearing these horrific stories all my life. I’m 55 years old, I had my son at home with a midwife who treated me like “gold” and was a support to me I have never received from a provider. I would NEVER ever have a child in a hospital. Hospitals are the LAST places to bring a brand new life into this miserable world. You must Obey the hospital rules and policies; the mother has NO say or vote at a time when She should be the one in charge and calling the shots. Plus, in a hospital setting you are surrounded by strangers who could be horrible people with bad aura and energy while Mother is preparing to have a brand new baby. When you give birth at Home, Mother is the Boss, Mother calls the shots, Mother is in charge and what Mother says goes. That is the beauty of giving birth at Home. Plus, giving birth at Home, Mother is surrounded by loved ones and the people she wants around her unlike at hospitals where Mother is surrounded by horrible people. The most important and crucial aspect of giving birth in a hospital is the “separation” of baby from Mother. That does NOT happen during Home Births: baby is kept with Mother at all times which is a bond that is destroyed by every hospital in this country. Every single Mother must have access to a midwife and have her baby either at home or a birth center WITH a midwife, not some capitalist in a white coat with a megalomania complex.
Not everyone is a candidate for home birth, while yes there are obviously hospitals where things like this happen. There are plenty where it does not, there are baby friendly hospitals where the mom and baby are never separated, even during c sections! I had an amazing delivery at a hospital where i labored how i wanted, ate what i wanted, did what i wanted, i actually preferred to lay down on my side to deliver but I could’ve delivered on hands and knees. I think it is unfair to generalize ALL hospitals, just like people there are good and bad!
I agree, AB. A close friend had planned on a home-birth with her first child but after her blood pressure spiked it was necessary to take her to the hospital where she had an emergency C-section. Fortunately, she was able to have home water-births with her next two children. As for me personally, a home-birth was not something I was interested in for my children’s births. I have nothing against home-births and don’t judge anyone who chooses that plan. It just wasn’t something I was comfortable with.
You’re wrong. Hospitals are an ok place to have a baby. Not all of them are the way you describe. I mean, you wouldn’t even know it. You’ve never given birth in one! I have, and you can have a midwife and deliver iin a hospital. That’s what I did, because I know that that is what is best for me and my children, because I have a blood disorder and must be on oxygen while in labor. That and there’s a 50% chance that my child could be born with the same blood disorder that I have, so they need to be monitored to make sure. You don’t know everything and need to stop talking as if you do and that you know better than everyone else. Yes, I agree that using a midwife is awesome and that the bond between the mom and baby are important, but they don’t have to be at home to have that experience. I do believe that it should be illegal to not allow a mother to have her choice in a birthing plan, and have her choice where to have it, as long as she’s assisted and safe. No one has the right to say how someone should give birth, even you.
Joy, I am a nurse midwife. I do births in a small rural hospital with family practice doctors as back up. I pride myself on being a bedside labor support midwife. As far as I am concerned, the mother is the boss. I have had patients who have had prior home births and were extremely pleased with their experience at our little hospital. I was offended to be painted with the “all hospital births are bad brush” they aren’t. I strive to give “my girls” the birth they want. I am usually pretty successful.
I had a horrible experience at BROOKWOOD HOSPITAL IN BURMINGHAM. I had a c-section and told them during the prep, numerous times that I did not want my tubes tied. But then during the c-section she took instructions from my partner to tie my tubes!!!??
Blessings to each and every one of you who has experienced abuse, assault, etc during birth. Besides adding my prayers, I encourage you to look into holistic alternatives for easing and possibly healing PTSD and other emotional and physical issues that stem from this.
While my two births were thankfully lovely, I was violently sexually assaulted at the age of 7, which I repressed until into my 40s. I have largely healed the extensive physical and emotional wounds that sprang from that event, using modalities such as Emotional Freedom Technique, The Journey (Brandon Bays), BodyTalk, EMDR, and Tapas Acupressure Technique. I have found each of these to be very helpful at different times in my life, and many of them can be accessed in at least a basic format for free.
Caroline, your courage is above and beyond care. THANK YOU for all you have done for the rest of us.
I do not know if you will see this Caroline but I am a traditional five element acupuncturist and would hugely suggest that you find similarly.in your area and discuss the possibility of a treatment known as a Ren/Du block. This is well known with this style of gentle Japanese acupuncture to be of massive help in issues of birth trauma to the mother. If I lived in the US I would happily treat you for free. It may at least help your pain. Xx Much love. Stacy xxx
An old friend of mine had a similar experience. The nurses shoved her baby back in and the baby ended up defacating inside of the mother. Let it be known: nurses do this because the doctors will raise hell if a nurse delivers the baby. If the doctor doesnt physically deliver the baby the doctor doesnt get paid for it and they arent having that (whether or not your health is at stake). Thats why birthing stools are a thing of the past in hospitals, too many women were delivering their own babies (and like i said, the doctors aint havin that!!)
The fact that you were enticed my the campaign is ridiculous. Not because you were convinced to switch hospital but by the fact that a hospital needs to advertise this in the first place. These items should be a standard of care. The mom and baby should of course be the priority. You want a safe and healthy birth as well as that can be accomplished, and to have your wishes respected. Of course in a hospital and placed IV (not always running IV), and at least intermittent monitoring are necessary in most hospitals but position of the laboring mom for example should be completely her choice. Nursing 101, if the patient says she’s in pain you believe her, therefore if you are in pain on your back then you as the nurse have the responsibility to help relieve that pain as much as you can.
The actions of this nurse are appalling. How can someone treat anyone like that let alone a mother delivering a baby. The fact that is not assault is completely insane.
It’s wonderful that you have that beautiful happy baby boy. It’s sad though that you can’t enjoy the life you have created because of the medical staff you trusted with your most precious moments and memories. As I always say–birthing a baby is one of the most memorable times in your life. You want to be surrounded by the ones who you love and love you. And I’m thankful to be a part of a growing families life.
Why an IV? I never had IV, how can you walk around? I had 5 kids. Intermittent moitoring, why? The baby is ready when the baby is ready………….. A woman will naturally turn to a position most comfortable, as for birthing on your back, how can a woman do that? You are pushing uphill? Is all of USA like that, or just the one hospital?
All of the US 🙁
not all the US. here in colorado we have our second midwifery Center just opened. there is The Farm in Tennessee. and lots of loving midwives who help you birth at home. There are bad and good. you HAVE to develop trust with your doctor/midwife. I had to throw caution to the wind and change doctors at 32 weeks as my son turned breech and the current doc was ,”well let’s schedule your c section” . I knew I could birth him and switched to a doctor, after a guck exam said ” you have good birthing hips. we’ ll give it a try”. and while I had to deliver in a operating room, I had him pretty darn naturally. 20 min of pit at the end and a small tear he had to stitch. ACOG is coming around to the 21st century, we just have to keep fighting for it.
Unfortunately most of our birthing is done this way. There are a few midwifery birth centers , i was lucky to find one and have a water birth outside of a hospital, but they are few and far between. I hope they become more popular and become the standard of care as it should be.
I had four of my children in hospitals here in the US and never had an IV. It’s very simple; you refuse. And tell them if they do it its assault. Same for pitocin or pain meds. No IV, much harder to drug you against your will.
In the article it states that the amount of pitocin that she was given was right next to the doctor’s note that she’s refused it.
In military hospitals you have absolutely no choice in any part of delivery or after-care. IV mandatory. At my first base, epidurals not allowed. I was not told I was about to get an episiotomy. My baby was turned sunny side up but because I had not been given an ultrasound, no one knew this. Ended up tearing all the way through, got an infection, and with IV and catheter in place, had to change my own sheets daily. August in southern Georgia and no A/C because power had gone out. Left with horrible pain that took years to heal. I was traumatized by the entire ordeal and the doctor actually suggested that my pain was made up. I sometimes wonder about the fact that I went on to have 2 more babies. For a while, that was it! No way would I do it again!
I’ve had wonderful birth experiences at the two hospitals I used, here in KY. All of the US is definitely not like that.
I had certified nurse midwives who were wonderfulLy supportive of my uneducated births. I walked freely and changed position freely.
I meant to say unmedicated births!
Same here. I have had 4 babies at a wonderful hospital in Atlanta with wonderful midwives. Completely unmedicated (even the 10lb baby), no IVs, no Pitocin, no CEFM (only 10m when I first come in, IF there’s time, and I don’t come in till transition so there usually isn’t), squatting to push on my command and no one else’s, changing positions any time I need, baby in my arms for an hour or more (APGAR done there), then taken to weigh for just a minute or two and returned to me for the rest of the short stay, baby sleeps in my bed, asked the nurses to do their mother & baby checks together at night (instead of a baby nurse then an hour later a mother nurse) and to do them at 11pm & 7am instead of waking me, etc. As beautiful as a hospital birth can be!
No! Not all of the US. But it is pretty common. You have to be informed, knowledgeable and willing to fight for what you want. Unfortunately, as in this case, sometimes even that isn’t enough. Its very sad. Birth in the US is very medicalized and too many people just accept it as ‘normal’.
Monitoring can be needed. One of my kids had a short umbilical cord and her heart rate dropped during delivery and I had to deliver right away, thankfully I was close to 10 cm, they had me push between contractions and everything to get her out fast or I would need a c-section. My last her heart rate dropped because the cord was around her neck. I went with our pain meds with her until I was 8cm and got IV meds, the doctor came in when I got the meds and barely made it across the street to the office before I had to deliver, she got back in time to catch.
As a L & D nurse for 25 years, I can say that this Caroline’s birthing experience is a travesty, broken trust and more proof that healthcare can be sub par when it’s a source of profit. A woman, in collaboration with her physician, should always be given the final say on her birthing plan and how it should progress. Visiting the hospital prior to admission finding answers to questions and to see the facilities to confirm that the services she expects are actually available and accessible. I started working in L&D (early 70s) when women were shackled to a hospital bed with four point restraints, drugged with scopolamine (and other iv meds), screaming with uncontrolled pain; only to wake with no memory and being told they had an easy delivery. In the late 70’s and early 80’s, women were provided with respect, encouraged to deliver naturally; but sometimes guilted into a natural birth, which wasn’t their choice. Both are equally disrespectful. I am a zealous supporter of allowing the woman to choose any safe type of birth they wish. There is one caveat that I always believe women should be aware of. Not all deliveries have positive outcomes and having seen more than I wanted to of both maternal and fetal deaths, a woman must be aware that some of the interventions they refuse, do have a reason and have saved thousands of babies. A small plastic iv that is not connected to an IV line or a bottle of fluids (sometimes called a heplock) can be put in without trauma and left as a “just in case” of hemorrhage, emergency c-section, infection, etc without feeling “invaded” because complications are more common than most realize. More often than hoped, I saw women birthing at home admitted as an emergency with prolapsed cords and other life threatening medical episodes with tragic results. When people insist on home births, I usually comment that as long as you can reconcile risking the health of your baby (albeit rare), then you are a candidate for a home birth. The best of both worlds is an in-hospital or birthing center made to feel like home, but in realistic reach of an OR or other potential emergency interventions. The experience should be under the woman’s control, but with the understanding that when things go awry of the plan, there is access to life saving staff and equipment. (And in the scheme of things, a small 3 inch iv place holder isn’t really a bad idea.) With that said, each woman has a different vision and should be respected and supported through labor and birth. No one owns the rights to another’s body.
Andra Minio- Your comment is the best!
I would seriously like to know what the nursing were thinking!!!
Your usual comment is not acceptable. Why not give non- emotive, non-judgemental, non- patronising objective information instead? Mothers have to reconcile themselves to risking the health of their babies when they choose hospital births too, but you don’t tell them that do you?
I am the mother of three and delivered my first at a birthing center, Natural Childbirth Institute in Culver City, California, where I labored in a deep tub and then delivered him on the bed, and then I delivered my second in a birthing tub – both with the same adored and beloved certified nurse midwife, and this was in 1988 and 1990. I couldn’t have had more loving or gentle experience. I had my third at Kaiser hospital in 1998, since the birth center had closed, and I made a decision to use petosin (I felt I had experienced natural childbirth twice) and the delivery was very gentle with a different certified nurse midwife, but some of the placenta was left inside and I hemorrhaged three weeks later. (Traumatic but fortunately it turned out okay) So the two birthing center births with no intervention were the least complicated, but with all three births, I was able to move around and be in any position I wanted without any interference, and this is 27, 25, and 17 years ago. All three kids grew up strong and healthy, but I can’t imagine this kind of arcane bullshit still happening. I think Caroline is incredibly brave to be speaking out. It’s the only way women can be educated and not just women, but men too. And I did Lamaze and Bradley and had birth plans and a loving partner who participated every step of the way. Anyway, thank you so much for sharing this and I wish Caroline a healing and much love to her and to her family.
I am so sorry! This is horrifying to read, let alone experience. What an awful hospital and what a despicable nurse.
Abuse of power is all too common in institutions – whether it’s a hospital, a school, or a jail.
I’m so glad you are taking a stand. You will still get the “all that matters is a healthy baby” line from the ignorant who think this type of abuse is an acceptable price we must pay for a healthy child.
This story is appalling! I gave birth to my youngest child at this same facility, and while I love my doctor, I was not happy with some of the care I received from one some of my nursed…one in particular whom I was stuck with every night. My baby was born 5 weeks early via emergency c-section. My anesthesia experience was bad in that, due to being moved too much after delivery, I ended up with a horrible spinal headache. My baby, because he was early, did struggle some with respiratory stress, so we stayed a total of five nights in the hospital, and I was stuck with the same horrible nurse every single night! One night, while the baby was in my room, I began to bleed profusely. Blood had soaked my bed, and I called for help. My nursr came to the door and said, “The desk said you needed help. What is the problem?” I explained that I was bleeding badly and needed help. She replied, “where are you bleeding from?” I responded by explaining that I was bleeding badly from my bottom and it had soaked my clothes and my bedding. She replied, ” and you cannot take care of that yourself?” I wanted her out of my room so I told her to leave. I got out of bed, dizzy and stumbling, and had to pull the baby over to the bathroom in his incubator and sit on the toilet until I could get to my feet and clean myself up. I then had to pull my baby back out and around the suite until I could find clean bedding to change my bed. When I complained to the charge nurse the next day she said that the woman I had a problem with “simply tries to keep women from being lazy and forces them to do for themselves because they will have to be independent once home.” Pathetic! There was a reason that lady preferred night shift…she was plain lazy and wanted to be there when most patients were asleep so she could sit and do nothing! My baby is now 13, and I hope that nurse is in another profession!
Rhonda, I want to climb into your story and smack that nurse in her face! Obviously you couldn’t take care of the problem yourself or you wouldn’t have called her in the first place!
And for the charge nurse to infer you were lazy is preposterous! You had had a medical trauma! My G-d you could have blacked out and fallen and truly have been hurt.
That nurse wasn’t just lazy she was derelict in her duties. I get that it is too late now, but complaining to the doctor or calling the hospital and filing a formal complaint would have been in order.
The patient should NEVER be expected to change her own bed linens. And the nurse should have, at the very least, checked your blood pressure; you could have have been hemorrhaging.
Thank God you are ok.
This is one of the most awful things I have ever heard! That is the exact reason she is there to be monitoring you! I’m glad you were ok!
I am a RN myself and I have worked with lazy nurses! I can relate. I am so glad that you are okay!
You were bleeding profusely and she asked why you couldn’t take care of it yourself after you’ve had a C-section?? That was neglect, plain and simple! What if you were hemorrhaging? And the fact that she left you there to “take care of yourself” with your premature baby in an incubator, is infuriating. I’ve had some “tough love” nurses but never felt as if I was being neglected to the detriment of my health and safety. I’ve never had a C-section – two births with an epidural and one natural childbirth and each time (even after the natural birth) my nurses insisted on helping me out of bed, held my arm while I walked to the bathroom and waited outside the door to help me back to the bed. They would do this until I felt comfortable and strong enough to do so on my own. I’m so sorry you had to endure such an experience all while worrying about the health of your preemie and your own physical recovery.
My first birth experience was far worse than this, but in 1984. I hate to say it, but if you were in a military hospital (which I was) you have NO control over your birth. They listen to the women that yell and scream before the ones that are trying to keep their composure. I am sorry for your experience.
Far worse? Did you end up with a debilitating nerve pain, unable To reproduce or have sex ever again? Unable to care for yourself or your children? Yelling and screaming is different from a life altering experience.
I had a home birth with a midwife who didn’t bother to monitor my child closely and wasn’t concerned about not finding her heartbeat for the last 15 min of the labor…..my baby died right before she was born….she came out completely blue…..I was hoping my second birth will be better….I had my first baby at the hospital. I was treated badly but my child is alive…. I don’t know anymore….there is no safe place to give birth. It’s about who is assisting you during birth. Good dr or an idiot dr….good midwife or an idiot, too confident midwife…
I have had 8 children in military hospitals and felt well treated, had plenty of birth options and was respected. They had labor balls, birth tubs, allowed walking, no IV I mean good experiences.
I thought I could have a wonderful unmedicated birth at a hospital that had a very small, intimate and personal “women’s center” (wing of the hospital). It was one level and 12 rooms. It had just 2 OBs which led me to believe it even more personal with a 50/50 chance of getting ur dr. Boy was I wrong!
It began in my room while I was comfortable laboring on the toilet. Nurses really didn’t like that bc i wasn’t in bed. Nurses kept knocking on the door and asking me to move to the bed. They finally convinced me to climb onto the bed where they wanted to monitor me, put the IV in my hand, which i hated and check me. Under an hr I was fully dilated and effaced.
As my fam held my legs and nurse waited for me to push through labor I had horrible back labor. I wanted to sit up more to get off my back but the nurse said I couldn’t do that bc she couldn’t see! So I tried pushing on my back in horrible pain for an hr without any progress. 2 other nurses stood against the wall near the foot of my bed just watching as I cried out for someone to help me. Everyone stared at me like a deer in headlights.
How is it that nurses don’t know what back labor is and how to relieve it w/o meds. All the nurse said to me was well its too late for an epidural. I said I don’t want meds. I just need ideas for pain relief. My back and thighs are killing me. These nurses looked like they had never witnessed an unmedicated birth before. I received no help from anyone.
Until my “knight in shining armor” my dr arrives. He says to me the baby is not descending. His head is turned the wrong way making it difficult for him to come down the birth canal. Oh and also I figured this when you were in my office yesterday for ur check up that you have CPD (cephalopelvic disproportion) which means ur baby’s head is too big to fit through ur pelvis. So you can try pushing one more hour but I think you’re going to end up with a C/S anyway. It’s up to you. Like what?! haha! That’s real promising and what are you talking about?! Bringing up this scientific term CPD which I had never heard of up as Im laboring after just one hr and in so much back labor pain. So, feeling like no other options bc no one was helping me relieve my back labor I reluctantly signed for a C/S with tears in my eyes.
Then the anesthesiologist shot my spinal too low and I had to be knocked out! My 1st unmedicated birth just turned into a nightmare. Now, I wasn’t even going to witness the birth of my 1st baby!
Then my hubby walks in to be by my side during my C/S and no one had informed him i was knocked out. He saw me looking unconscious and a tube down my throat. He thought I was dying or something. He was completely unprepared for that sight. So not only was my birth taken from me but my hubby was traumatized too.
That is horrific, if you wanted to turn over, they should have helped you, you were in pain, because you needed to turn, to allow gravity to help, and allow the baby to fall into a better position……….. so sorry!
Exactly what happened to my sister. I suspected the baby was posterior. She had horrible back pain. Unfortunately, I’m not a trained doula and didn’t know positions to try other than hands-and-knees. In the end, doctor declared “failure to progress” and cut her open even though there was no emergency, baby was in good condition, etc. Horrific.
As a student midwife in Australia, I am absolutely horrified to hear this story. My power was taken from me in my first birth, the second I just had no expectation and went with ‘it’. Third? I told them what I was going to be doing in labour. All listened except one, but my doula took care of her. I cannot imagine having to bear your burden. I’m so sorry. No woman in my care will ever suffer like that. Ever.
Dogs and Cats are allowed to birth their babies better than you were allowed to birth yours. I am completely shocked by that place, those nurses. I hope they go out of business soon. I’ve birth 10 babies. Six in a hospital (with nurses Waaaaay better than yours!) and four at home with a midwife. Birthing mothers should be able to move about freely, should be allowed to eat (for strength) and gosh they should be allowed to birth in any damn position that feels good to them! Shame on that birthing center/hospital or whatever they call themselves. What a horrible place. Everyone these days should know that you NEVER hold a baby’s head back so that he cannot be born “until the doctor gets there” OMG that is SO dangerous, and I can’t even believe they did that. Hitler did experiments on laboring woman by tying their legs together to prevent the baby from coming out and actually TIMED it to see how long it would take for baby and mother to die that way. Has history…even horrid history like that….taught us anything?
wonderful comments, I learnt to, do what your body tells you, not a stupid doctor, who wants to be able to see easily, stuff em, they can either stay home, or get on the damn floor, if that is how a woman chooses to birth.
I think you have psychiatric problems. I think the experience was not a good one, but your embellishment of your PTSD is ridiculous. Another example of allowing someone to be a victim for life. Too many enablers in this world.
She does have psychiatric problems. She has PTSD from how she was treated while giving birth. Kind of like many war veterans have PTSD from their experiences. Are we enabling them?
So, this woman has to live with permanent, severe nerve damage that has also affected her husband, but she’s exaggerating? What’s wrong with you?
May you be blessed with love, empathy and compassion. I wonder if you will make this statement if this woman was your best friend or daughter? The world needs more love not less
Wow how heartless can one person be? I can only be lead to believe from your post that you neither a female or a parent. Only someone totally clueless on what it’s like to give birth would say such a cruel thing. This woman went through hell and now suffers each and every day because of negligent care. Just disgusting that you feel you have to bring more cruelty into her life. Shame!!
Seriously?? Have you ever been a laboring woman before? I’ve had six kids and believe you me, if I had been abused the way this mother was abused, there’d be Hell to pay! PTSD is real and was brought on by this woman’s mistreatment. She’s in constant, debilitating pain. How dare you, you awful troll!!! Go back into the hole you came from.
You can get PTSD from a tramatic event. I got it when i had been raped and didnt even know it. When i had a CS, i couldnt have sex with my husband for almost a year, tore us apart. My doctor noted it was because i had a traumatic birth and that brought up PTSD from trauma before. you sound ignorant!!!
oh? so Ha, what exactly do you base that on? you’re an expert in ptsd? you were present? you’ve done a personal evaluation of the woman?
more likely, you work for yhat hospital, maybe you’re the nurse in question or her sister or something. perhaps you are affiliated with the hospitals legal team.
or maybe you’re just a jerk.
It’s really cool how you are clearly an expert on someone else’s life and pain.
What an awful and uncalled thing to say! PTSD is real and I have no doubt that her experience was enough to cause that. Why do you feel the need to say anything at all if your just going to be mean. As women we should encourage each other.
and I think you’re an asshole! You must be one of the nurses named in her lawsuit!
seriously? i think you should find another place to vent your ignorance
What? SHE has psychiatric problems??? I guess you are just a certified *sshole.
As a woman healing from sexual abuse as a child, this traumatizes me to read. There is no way that this should be acceptable or excusable. Caroline not only was physically injured during the physical struggle with her nurses, she was violated. This type of experience damages the psyche of even the strongest of veterans and here is a completely vulnerable woman at the whim of her natural experience of childbirth being manhandled and disrespected. Disrespected isn’t even a strong enough word to describe it! This is violence and should be a crime and hospitals should FEEL like a disgrace for having staff that treat anyone in such a manner, let alone a laboring woman. A doctor is supposedly a safe person because of the promise that they are there to help us – nurses are their support people, so they too become that safe person. These types of accounts keep me from ever entering a hospital with “safe” as a way to describe it. Instead, I feel I must be armed with someone who will KEEP ME SAFE if I should enter. My heart aches for Caroline and her husband. This isn’t just a violation of the memory of her experience – this was a crime and has affected her very livelihood. I agree with the previous commenter: DESPICABLE. DISGUSTING. UNACCEPTABLE.
Please let other of families in your state , know , I ltravel for births , I’d come , Midwifewithoutborders
Thank you for being brave enough to do what I didnt…I had a very similar horrible experience at Brookwood….we should launch our own YouTube “Birth at Brookwood Campaign” exposing the realities …. my birth plan was thrown out the window, I fired one doctor in labor, then the next doctor bullied me, I was given pitocin without consent…treated like crap on an operating table for a CS that wasn’t needed…had to go through PTSD and major issues in my second pregnancy because of everything that happened in the first….wish I would have been brave enough to sue…I was afraid …Thank you
This makes me want to just stay home to birth unassisted. I have had four children (one that wasn’t ready for this earth) and three out of four births felt completely out of control. Homebirth has only been legal in my state for about a year and there is only one homebirth midwife in our area. She will not attend me because on paper, I have a bleeding disorder (has not been an issue in my births). My husband is wanting to have another and there is so much anxiety surrounding birthing for me, I’m *so* fearful. Do I let this fear control me and my family? Do I risk my mental, emotional and physical wellbeing to have another hospital birth? I feel like having another baby would be like intentionally walking out on a frozen lake where I might get safely across, the ice continuously cracking, or I might fall through and drown. I long for the kind of woman centered birth I’ve read about – the one where a woman is surrounded by the women she trusts and her midwife, all patiently waiting and giving gentle advice. All taking care of the household and other children, keeping everyone clean and fed. The woman is left to worry about nothing – all of her time and attention can be centered on herself and her baby. It sounds magical in such a way that it’s unattainable. I mourn the loss of the art of birth.
I believe that you can have the birth you dream of! There are so many midwives and doulas and birth-loving women who are here for you…you may have to look outside your state or find someone who will come to you.
Can you employ an independent midwife or go unassisted?
Horrible! Shame on that nurse and hospital. You are a voice for thousands + …..this should NOT be happening this day and age. Too much scientific research that backs up natural labor /birth practices as safe and satisfying for mom and babes. More power to you! I’m sure many more women will come out to support this effort !
I have four children and every birth, albeit all more than 30 years ago, have left me mentally scarred through lack of care and the obligation to stay on my back despite the agonising pain. (For one of them I was actually passing kidney stones at the same time and was told to stop moaning and complaining and that pain was normal in childbirth – not sure that kidney stones are though), I was a Nurse myself, and coming from a different country, I did not understand why things were so terribly different. Four births with three or four inductions with drugs each time a bit like having been in labour fifteen or sixteen times….. Nobody thought to look into why I could not produce contractions – it took me to the age of 56 to realise that I was missing several indispensable hormones…..I have nightmares to this day and still find it miraculous that I do in fact have four beautiful sons! In this day and age in western hospitals, these things should not happen – ever. I hope that this lady will get through her pain and find a way to reconcile her body and her birth….. I am still trying!
Horrible. Horrible nurses or doctors can ruin everything. But they exist like horrible cops. What can we do to ensure a safe future for our children?
I have not yet had children, but this would be my nightmare. The idea that this even COULD happen is horrifying. I’m so sorry that a health care provider submitted this to you and it and it became such a long-term presence in your life. Thank you for sharing your story!
Hire a doula to work with you when the time comes…….
Unfortunately a doula did not help the mother in the story. Talk to the women who have birthed where you intend to bright see if their stories match the hospital line. Also read “A Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth” to understand evidence based care.
I feel so sorry for this mother. I had two natural childbirths at St Vincent’s mentioned as the old hospital above with a very supportive doctor and staff. My third was delivered by c-section due to breach and my doctor did everything I asked in order to flip my son. I know not all staff are the same, I hate that she was forced on her back, I labored and pushed on all fours with both my natural births. They did not flip me until the doctor arrived and even then it was my choice after being suggested by nurses. Based on everything I’ve read, a lawsuit is totally justified.
Why did you flip for the doctor, is he only used to seeing things one way around 🙁
I teach HypnoBirthing classes and what I stress the most to my parents is understanding their rights and what informed consent actually means. As a nurse, I’m appalled at their behavior. Where I trained that would definitely be classified as an assault. Why is it that you can get away with this kind of behavior in a delivery room, but not out on the street? Makes you wonder what the hell people are thinking! I am so sorry this happened to you. Thank you for being brave enough to share your story and raise the much needed awareness of health care professionals. I wish for you to find peace and comfort, physically, mentally and emotionally.
Unfortunately many women are under the impression that you may always “choose” the kind of birth you will have. This is a myth. How your birth happens is a result of many variables, including size of your baby, size and shape of your pelvis, position of the baby when labor begins, how well your uterus contracts, if you go into labor on your own, or are induced at 41-42 weeks with an old placenta that no longer gives your baby good blood flow. These things cannot always be “chosen”. Birth plans do need to be flexible. Yes laboring in the position that is comfortable for you is great however sometimes the baby’s fetal heart tracing does not look reassuring when mom is in certain positions, and so sometimes that needs to be changed if you want your child to be born healthy. It is also a myth that all c-sections can be avoided, they cannot. Babies are getting larger and larger with unhealthy diet, weight gain, and gestational diabetes that is ever on the rise. However women’s pelvis’ are the same size they were 50 years ago. Many babies do not fit. I am tired of hearing that the medical community does horrible, unnecessary things to pregnant patients and newborns, this seem to be coming from the same people that feel vaccines are unnecessary. Behind every intervention is hard, evidence based medicine, it is not because we are trying to do things to torture you or to make things easier on the medical staff. People say they want to give birth in a hospital for safety of mom and baby, but then proceed to tell the experts exactly how they should be treated and cared for. It doesn’t work that way. If you want complete control over your birth, then you better do it in a kiddie pool in your living room. If it works out, wonderful, if not, I will be admitting you to my unit after you have hemorrhaged, or your child has been born and needed medical resuscitation but did not receive it fast enough so they are in the NICU, or I am sorry to say deceased because emergency care was not available. This happened two months ago and I had to take care of a grieving mother who wished she could take back her decision to have a home birth. There is a reason infant and laboring women mortality rates used to be so high, and why so many women and children died. Labor is highly unpredictable, when things go bad, they go very bad, very quickly and intervention is needed to save lives. If you are willing to take a gamble with your own health or the health of your newborn, then by all means, make the stringent labor choices on your birth plan and do not deviate despite sound medical advice. Don’t complain when your child has Cerebral Palsy, traumatic brain injury from anoxia, or doesn’t survive. Believe me, as a patient at an inpatient labor and delivery unit, there are still risks, however your doctor and nurses want the best possible outcome for you. As an RN who works inpatient OB, I can tell you that myself and all of my colleagues want to see you leave our unit healthy and holding a healthy newborn. Keep your eye on the healthy outcome, this is the most important aspect of your care, not whether or not you gave birth in a hot tub.
Comments like these from nurses are really discouraging, beginning with the statement that “Behind every intervention is hard, evidence based medicine.” That is absolutely false and there is an overwhelming amount of evidence proving the inaccuracy of that statement. In Caroline’s case, these interventions were not necessary, per her DOCTOR, and were forced on her against her will after she was lied to about whether or not they would be policy in her birth.
It’s disappointing to see that you’re just not listening. American maternity care is in trouble; women and babies are being unnecessarily injured and traumatized; and some of the very people we need to listen to us are dismissing the evidence and our firsthand accounts.
Check out these statements from nurses who have a slightly broader perspective: https://www.birthmonopoly.com/nurses
Exactly, every woman has a right, to birth in any position she wants, a right to refuse medication, a right to refuse to be cut, a right to refuse jabs, a right to walk around, a right to not have a damn iV put in or a damn fetal heart monitor. Birth is so wonderful, when it is treated as a natural event, and the mother is respected.
I think she is simply saying that when emergencies happen, a change in plan might be necessary. I always had a birth plan myself, but knew that if something went horribly wrong, it would need to be adjusted.
How Caroline was treated, however, was completely horrible. In her case, she was mistreated for no reason and the lawsuit is valid.
Hi, do you consider my outcome a outcome healthy? A mom, left to lie in bed while others scramble to care for her child? What if I told you that none of those variables you speak of existed in my situation. Every single nurse and doctor in my case has testified that there was no risk or danger present for me or my baby. My OBGYN told me “you would have been better off had you delivered at home.” I think what a lot of people can’t handle is the fact that, in my case, you can’t use all these “medical” excuses — people have to accept the reality that obstetric violence does indeed occur at the hands of medical “professionals.”
She clearly didn’t even read your story, Caroline. How seriously disturbing to have missed the entirety of your post. Not only did she completely miss it and dismiss it and invalidate your true experience, she shared a plethora of false information under the guise of “expert advice.”
While there are scenarios for a birth plan to be flexible, there is *never* a valid reason to assault a woman in labor or force her to keep her baby from being born. Women have their babies in cars on the side of the road with better outcomes than Caroline did in the hands of these nurses!!! I’m appalled that the profession of nursing staff is that much more important to defend than the experiences of many women around the US who are genuinely not being cared for. If a nurse is incapable of catching a baby, then doctors need to be there.
I’m a labor and delivery nurse (albeit a fairly new one, although I’ve been a postpartum nurse for 3 years) … what that nurse did to you was assault and battery. It’s nursing 101. If a patient says “NO” we must listen, and if we don’t we can incur criminal charges.
I’m sorry you had this experience. The nurse sounded awful. If anyone ever finds themselves in a power struggle with a nurse, please request that the charge nurse be called and that you get another nurse. Being bullied is unacceptable.
That said, sometimes unexpected/unplanned things need to happen to save a baby’s life during birth. Including emergency c-section, forceps usage, or wrangling you into various positions to relieve umbilical cord compression if the baby’s heart rate is dropping. But there is a right way to do this, and it should be done in a way that will not injure the patient.
I live in Texas now but I was actually born at Brookwood hospital many years ago. I’m sad to hear that they are treating patients so poorly.
Yikes! Have you thought about another profession? One that requires little or no empathy?
Your statements do not come from a place of love or respect. You offer a biased egoic opinion learnt from a text book, lecture or from your own fear based reality. You make statements based around fear, hidden under the guise of science. interventions may at sometime be necessary but to use force and go against a mothers wishes is appalling. Women have been giving birth for centuries, a woman deserves the right to choose regardless of what you the so called experts advise her to do. At what point did women lose their right for an empowered birth.
So, as a labor RN, you think what this nurse did to this mother was perfectly acceptable then? It was nothing short of assault. Yes, unexpected things can happen during labor and birth (I’ve given birth 6 times), but during a woman’s labor, she should have SOME sense of control. This was absolutely heinous and should NOT be the standard of care given to women during one of the most important moments of their life! She was also given Pitocin without her consent. How is this even ethical?? Thankfully, for the most part, I’ve had very positive hospital birth experiences. I always felt in control and the nurses were very attentive to my needs and always sweet and gentle with me. Sorry to say, but I wouldn’t want you as my labor/delivery nurse with your thought process. :/
Oh good heavens! I had better births than what the RN described nearly 30 years ago! It’s true that the problems you describe will need different care, but many of these situations can be discerned before labour, so people are prepared. And some of these things are rare.
Methinks you are an apologist for what is, here, the status quo. Considering how birth happens in many parts of the world, with much lower infant mortality than the US, this is a shame.
you’re tired of hearing something.
ok. so why are you reading about it?
none of those things you go on about there applied to this woman.
so what is your point? that you wish no one complained because life is uncertain?
people know that already. had there been complications the mother would of course have some as advised.
Babies die more often in hospital births as against home births…… As for measuring babys heartrate, why? Why all these gadgets, and IVs, and rubbish? All it does is stress the mother. Natural birth, is so much kinder, easier……… less unneccessary interventions the better. Does USA treat birth as a major operation or disease or something? Weird.
“keep your eye on the healthy outcome” Right.. I have been a L&D RN for over 30 years, 10 of those spent at Brookwood and I can tell you, I have seen more atrocities done to women in the name of “getting a healthy baby” than you can imagine. It is a disgusting excuse.
Your way of thinking is why I had two of my four outside of the hospital. Did you even read the original story?
Wow, it must be really annoying for you and your colleagues when your patients voice educated opinion about their fears and hopes when what it sounds like you really want is comatose patients–or at the very least, silent, obedient, deferential and worshipful children instead.
Tripe to assuage your own guilt over the crimes against humanity you have either witnessed or taken part in.
Girl, You DONT know. I have been an LDR nurse for 13 years. I’ve seen more abuse than I’d ever like to share – Dr’s doing major abdominal surgery bc they have a golf game of their in laws are in town . It SUCKS. It’s why I left OB. I *love* being a LDR nurse, but the cost to my conscience was too hi- I couldn’t stand by and watch it anymore.
As a fellow L&D nurse, I do get what you’re saying. However I don’t agree with all of it and you might have phrased your words less aggressively. Saying you’re “tired of hearing” things which a patient requests is not the way to win a patient over to your point of view. It’s our job to explain and support. It is not our job to force and frighten, even if we believe in our hearts that we know best. Education is key to understanding risks. But if a fully informed mother wants to go against medical advice that is her choice and it’s still our job to care for her respectfully, without eye rolling or suggestions that her baby is going to die. Yes, I have seen poor outcomes but more often than not it has been the opposite. The crash c/section for fetal distress when the baby comes out screaming with apgars of 9/9. Fetal monitoring has not improved infant mortality or morbidity to any significant degree. But it sure has lined the pockets of the malpractice lawyers and in my opinion that is the number one reason we use it to the degree which we do in healthy full term pregnancies. How many times have you seen labor augmented solely for the convenience of the physician b/c labor isn’t moving fast enough? Or membranes ruptured at 2cm and -3 station, just to speed things up? I have…a lot, and it doesn’t always end happily with these interventions. So many examples and yet I also disagree with some of the things these moms are saying. It really bothers me that we are seen as adversaries to women who dream of an alternate birth experience. We should, as women, be empowering each other instead of blaming each other.
Right, so the woman in the article is just bitching about hard evidence based care that prevented her baby from dying because she wanted to birth in a hottub and you’re tired of hearing it? You’re part of the problem. I pity your patients.
In 1975 …… I had been seeing a nurse midwife for all my prenatals. The day before my due date my bp soared to 170/100 and the nurse midwife consulted with an OB who said I needed to be admitted. I was crushed as murmurings of induction loomed. I told them I wanted to go home and pack some things and although they recommended against it……. Let me go. I returned a couple of hours later to be admitted and was told it was just for observation overnight to see if my bp went down. Less than two hours after being admitted….. My mucous plug came out and within 30 minutes I was in labor! They said that was good but refused to let me call my husband who had already left! ( no cell phones then!). They said oh let him sleep that I would need him more by morning. I felt so alone and afraid. I had done Lamaze classes so I struggled through my contractions trying to remember everything! Then back labor hit hard! I was stuck in a bed on my back with NO labor support. Why had I forgotten my tennis balls that I planned to bring? In desperation and pain and all alone…… I made fists with my hands and put them under me and rolled ALL night. I never slept and the experience was turning into a nightmare I couldn’t escape from. By morning my husband arrived refreshed having slept all night while I was a crying mess! I was adamant about having a natural birth…… It’s what I had wanted but by the time I was given bp medications that made me feel like I was on fire…….. I relented and agreed to an epidural. It was a huge relief! Several hours later they said I was ready to be transferred to the delivery room. Bright lights, stirrups and lots of commotion! Then I was told to “push”…. I couldn’t feel the contraction and having never given birth…… Didn’t know how to push! They kept yelling at me, telling me to push but I was confused. Somehow my 6lb 9 oz baby girl was born! I felt so out of touch and could feel nothing! When the epidural wore off….. I discovered a episiotomy had been done and it hurt! They apparently got consent from my husband telling him ” I’d be tighter” ( which is a lie!). I felt betrayed and that everyone made all the decisions for me except the epidural decision. It was a nightmare!
Your husband was not their patient and therefore his level of alertness was not their business. You were, or at the very least should have been, their priority. Regardless if you were giving birth or been there for some other medical reason, it’s your body. And as long as you were conscious, everything that was done to you should have been explained to YOU.
I am so sorry to hear what happened to you. Moms should be in the most comfortable position during labor they want to be in. I can’t imagine being assaulted by the nurses during labor. During my labor of my son the staff kept asking me if I would rather lay on my side but I said no because with my back labor it hurt more. Later on they asked if I wanted to hold onto a bar in front of me and be on my knees which was actually quite comfortable considering being in transitional labor. Nurses should suggest different type of positions depending on the mothers pain because of how the child is positioned in the womb. Thank you so much for going through the process of a lawsuit with the hospital for other women to not have to go through what you went through.
I am truly sorry your birth experience was life-altering and so painful for you. No one should have to endure that while bringing life into the world and I hope my story brings you some solace that you may have helped bring about change. I have had several friends give birth at Brookwood recently (2014), myself included. I wouldn’t say it was the most ideal situation but given the current circumstances in Alabama, it’s still one of the better options. One of my friends gave birth in their water suite, unmedicated. This was her 5th child. Another friend and I had our first child with the same OB and both of us were “kick-started” into labor with cervical balloons and Pitocin. We both also denied pain medication although it was offered. I can’t speak for her, but it was crazy painful for me. I had to be hooked up to monitors the entire time and was unable to eat. That was the bad. The good? My nurse was incredible. She was very clear in explaining everything to me, allowing my doula to assist me in changing positions to make myself more comfortable, and even made a wonderful support person. I was allowed to move as much as I wanted as long as I didn’t take off the monitors. This allowed me to use a birthing ball, get on my hands and knees, etc. It was clear that beyond contradicting hospital policy that I was in control. It was also clearly explained to me that once delivery came, my OB would be in the room and I had to make myself “accessible”. Although stirrups were in position, my husband and doula were allowed to hold and push my feet to help me. My OB even made references to the previous conversations we had about my birth plan while I was in labor and afterwards when delaying cutting the cord and immediate contact between me and my son. For a hospital, I felt like it was one of the better options in Alabama especially after hearing from friends who were bullied into C-sections or denied rights to immediate contact and other “natural” birth options. There are very few hospitals trying to change with the greater demand for birthing rights and Brookwood is one of the more progressive. I believe that if change will really be achieved in Alabama, it will be through the laws and I sincerely hope that you bring your story to Montgomery to give the mothers of the future the choices you didn’t have.
I had my daughter at St. Marys in Maine & they were wonderful. I was 21 & healthy but at 33 weeks my dr. thought that the baby was smaller than she should be so ordered an ultrasound…turned out my placenta had deteriorated & i had lost almost all of my amniotic fluid.. everytime i moved i risked pinching the umbilical cord & killing my daughter. She hadnt grown bcuz she wasnt getting enough nutrients. We tried to wait 1 more week w complete bed rest so she would have a better chance, they thought she only weighed about 3.5 pounds. If i didnt feel her move every 5 minutes i was told to rush to ER, no exception. After doing that 3 times in 2 days, which my dr. meet us there each time (actually he beat us there)said risk is too much “2day is a great day to have a baby”he said. I was the worse patient. I need pitocin to induce labor, i was almost 35 wks, i never experienced gradually on coming contractions. I was haveing contractions every 3 minutes that lasted almost 2 minutes each from noon on monday till 4 on tuesday. I screamed, paced the halls mostly naked balling & swearing like a pirate at the top of my lungs. My nurse not only allowed it but told me to get it all out…they put me in tubs, hot showers, heat packs on my back. Even snuck me dunkin doughnuts. I beggged for drugs & when denied threatened 2 to beat the crap outta every1 of them if they didn’t give me something for the pain. At 1st they refused bcuz her heartrate was all over the place & they were scared meds would slow it down too much. By 4 on Tuesday my dr . allowed my to finally have a spinal since i was only dilated 3cm but had been in hard labor for over 24 hrs…we all need rest. Supposedly the spinal should have slowed my dilation even further (thats 1 of reasons he didn’t want me have it earlier) so i could have some time to physically recuperate. I had a contraction after they gave me the spinal but 3 minutes later i was hollering hallelujah i fell no pain &instantly fell asleep. 20 minutes later i wake up & my daughter’s head has crowned. My dr had just arrived home & turned rite back around when called. His father who was also an ob/gyn, was closer to hospital so he called his dad who rushed there & started my delivery until my dr. got there. Seems the spinal actually speed up the dilation so of course the whole time im pushing my baby out i screaming at the dr “I TOLD U TO JUST GIVE ME THE DAMN DRUGS FROM THE BEGINNING”which he took in total stride.& then a perfect 5lb baby was born. He gave her 9 on on her 1st apgar scale & another 9 on her 2nd (said he never gave 10s cuz it was bad luck).She didnt need the incubator that was already set up in my room or anything!!! He put my daughter on my chest who i immediately thru up on…cleaned her again & put her back on my chest. My family went to watch baby in nursery..i was soooo sick. I told the nurse i was gonna b sick again & she brought me a bed pan i sat up & projectile vomited all over her…i mean covered her. I was so weak i couldn’t even turn my head. She was great…just sat there & held me steady so i wouldn’t fall off bed. Needless to say the day my daughter & i left hospital my boyfriend sent multiple bouquets of flowers to all the medical staff who had to deal with my my abuse!!!! They were extremely patient w me!!!!
1 Corinthians 6:9-11!
Praise Yahshua for truth!
Hopefully you married the guy right?
I am a licensed midwife catching babies at home. One of my clients, an L&D nurse for 10 years said nurses are forbidden to catch babies and will be written up for it. After 3 strikes, they are fired! This, to me, contradicts that hospital’s own written policy that nurses are to advocate and care for the patients to the point they are supposed to report doctors who are not following hospital policy.
At a different hospital in another town I transported a client (her choice). She labored all night, was complete at dawn with an overwhelming urge to push. The nurse used the words “If you push now you can kill your baby.” I knew she was waiting for the doctor to arrive. My client was begging and crying to be able to push. I finally stood behind the nurse and mouthed “push”. She was in such torment she couldn’t focus. Magically, after 45 minutes of torture, the Dr arrived and she could push – and not kill her baby.
Do doctors think nurses, who see birth daily, can’t guide a baby to the light? Maybe doctors should BE where the action is instead of off someplace else.
I’m so glad this woman is doing something. The stages of grief apply to more than just losing a loved one. The end stage of grief is advocacy. If voices aren’t raised against heinous treatment at such a precious time, it will continue. Her doctor sounds like he promised her the moon, but if he wasn’t there to deliver, he’s remiss.
We have a favored OB in town. She has stated if her clients don’t have preferences, she’ll roll her way. But if someone has definite ideas of what they want, she’ll give her personal phone number just in case she’s off call and her clients aren’t getting what they need. The hospital knows if she’s called in heads will roll. –Detrah Hele, LM
I guess Nurses aren’t allowed to deliver because the Doctors get the big bucks for delivering the baby. Or hospitals don’t want to cover the cost of added insurance.
This woman was severely injured and her baby’s life endangered over what I now realize is probably a money issue—because what other reason could there possibly be for the nurse not to let the baby come out (naturally) until the doctor arrived?
How, I wonder, will the RN who wrote in explain that away, as she insists that everything that the nurses do is a decision aiming for the health and safety of the mother and child, when it is widely accepted as medically harmful to mother and child to keep the baby from coming out?
I had my baby at Brookwood and had a wonderful experience – but I didn’t have natural labor, I had an epidural. However, my nurse listened to all my questions and concerns and was wonderful! I think you had an awful nurse. My mom is a nurse at Brookwood (NOT in the labor and delivery), and she has been there a long time and is a great nurse….however, the hospital management is TERRIBLE. She and her co workers always have trouble with management making ridiculous requirements of them that make it harder to do their jobs. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if the L&D management is also terrible, and had no idea about the marketing campaigns.
I had my baby at Brookwood in December of 2006 and I also had a wonderful experience with 2 fantastic nurses. If I could remember their names, I would list them here. I was induced, which was great for me. I liked having a plan. So I had Pitocin and an epidural. It was a very easy delivery, but I attribute that to regular exercise right up to my ninth month. The worst thing about my pregnancy was being labeled a Geriatric pregnancy because I had my daughter at 39. Secondly, the baby was on her way and my doctor was in the middle of an emergency hysterectomy. The nurses jokingly said I should quit pushing. I jokingly answered that I wasn’t. They sent a message to the doctor that he better hurry or the baby was going to come without him. I had a perfectly healthy baby girl. The nurses were great. My doctor was great. Sadly he passed away a year later when he was diagnosed with cancer. He was a wonderful doctor to me for 19 years.
You had a wonderful experience because you did exactly what they wanted you to do – accept all their interventions and be a good girl.
I’m so sorry about your birthing experience. I work on a post – partum floor, and frequently go to Labor and Delivery to assess the newborns and give their first baths. When I read your story, all I could think of was, the L&D nurse was desperate for the OB-GYN to show up. I believe the nurses get scrutinized or even penalized by their superiors if there is a nurse – assisted delivery, for whatever reason. And I think they are rigidly trained for that birthing event (on your back, in stirrips). So many perspectives to your story. So many things to change! I hope you can possibly forgive this nurse. Her intentions may truly have been to protect you and your baby in a way that she was trained and familiar with! Again, I’m so sorry for what you went through! I hope and pray for healing and acknowledgement!
There are a couple of suggestions I have for other women concerning hospital births. The first is, check the place out first. Meet some of the staff, make sure they can follow through with your birth plan (barring any emergencies), go on websites, and check the place out beforehand like you would a new doctor.
Second, and I can’t stress this enough, make a back up plan with your doctor in case he is not available when you give birth. Babies will come when they come, and doctors are people with busy schedules. Of course the possibility exists that your doctor might not be available when the time comes. You want to meet and go over the birth plan with the fill in too.
Bring a stand alone video camera if possible, hopefully, even the worst nurse will be better if she knows she is being filmed.
Lastly, and this goes for anyone lying vulnerable in the hospital, bring an advocate. Husband, mother, sister, father, friend. Someone with a big mouth who they can’t ignore. First, they can speak for you, and second, it shows the staff that there is someone in your life who is bearing witness that will make a HUGE stink if you are mistreated.
From Caroline’s horror story to the lady who is now afraid to get pregnant for fear of giving birth, all I could think was, they need an advocate.
And to the RN who is so frustrated and annoyed that scared, laboring women make her job harder–you should work in a morgue instead instead because you have just the temperament for it.
Not appropriate to ask her to forgive that nurse. That would only be her choice, without outside interference. Disappointing that that would be what you came away with and think to say. Don’t worry about the nurse
Worry about her victim.
This is such a sad story, but when parties are in litigation, aren’t they not allowed to discuss the details outside of the court proceedings?
Thank you for your interest in my story. It’s not customary to discuss litigation…except when a plaintiff and their lawyer believe it is important to get a message out to the general public to protect them.
It’s too bad we can’t hear the other side of the story… Obviously there was lack of communication from the beginning. Would love to hear from the nurses. Labor nursing is really stressful & hard work–most who choose to do it, do it out of love for their profession…. they definitely aren’t paid enough to do it for money!
We DID hear the other side of the story, in months of depositions and two weeks of a trial, where the attending doctor and nurses testified under oath. “Hearing the other side of the story” is over and done.
A jury decided that Caroline and JT Malatesta deserved to be compensated, and Brookwood Medical Center deserved to be punished, for nurses physically forcing her onto her back and holding her baby’s head in for six minutes… and for the fraudulent advertising that lured Caroline there in the first place.
We’ve heard the other side of the story, and it was no defense.
Or in some cases they do it for the power over vulnerable women.
Thanks to giving a voice to what is happening to so many women….so very sorry that this was your experience…I can only imagine how difficult this was for you and your baby…thank you for speaking up I hope there is healing in sharing your experience…I know you will change birth for those who come after you for the better. We need more moms like you!!! I have been hearing that there are some women who are working at repairing pelvic floor damages through a unique set of exercises that may help you back to health. Hoping there is someone in your area with the expertise to assist you in healing.
I have had thirteen children, one set of twins- so I have given birth twelve times in a variety of countries and a variety of situations. This is inexcusable. I hope you sue them for enough money to undergo every possible treatment for your pudendal neuralgia, and for full time help, and a second home, with about a million dollars left over. And I would consider criminal assault on the part of the nurse. WHERE WAS YOUR DOULA?
I am so sorry that you had to experience this. I had an unmedicated birth in February at Brookwood and am counting my blessings that it went well. Based on the quotes you provided, it sounds like we possibly had the same OB, however he was on call when I went into labor, thankfully. I also had an awful experience with a nurse who rolled her eyes at me when I told her I wanted to birth without drugs and purposely asked me mundane questions during contractions despite the fact that I’d filled out everything she was asking for ahead of time and honestly…it could have waited a minute until I was not contracting. Luckily, her shift ended and I had a wonderful nurse come in after her. Granted this is nothing compared to what you went through, but it is still insulting that people choose a helping profession and are not at all skilled at being kind. It is unfortunate that women are told not to trust their bodies and that the very natural, very feminine process of childbirth has become so medicalized and masculinized. Alabama mothers deserve more. You are in my thoughts.
My son was delivered at Brookwood several months before your horrific birth experience. We also had a very traumatic experience which ended in an unnecessary and bullied cesarean. The nursing staff were supportive but the doctor was the one on call and he forced me to have a c-section I didn’t need and had several verbal altercations with my husband who also felt like he had to be my bodyguard. The nursing staff filed a complaint against the doctor and we were told that they were going to develop training for nurses to defend their patients against doctors, but clearly nothing much changed in the months between my son’s birth and yours. We also sought legal counsel but in the end we just didn’t move forward. after several years of support group meetings and sharing my story, I have had two successful VBACs since then but had to travel out of the city to find supportive doctors I could trust. The standard of maternity care in Alabama is ridiculous. Real change needs to happen. Thank you for being our voice!!
All the best for you, brave Caroline. I have suffered pudendal neuralgia too – in my case through a prolonged second stage labour, fully dilated with back to back contractions and baby trying to come out for 7 hours straight due to a flappy cervix, baby being “sunny side up” and having shoulder dystocia but not in distress (My first birth was highly unusual) … Well meaning people just do not understand how painful the condition is. I kept getting told “Oh, it’s normal to experience pain downstairs after labour”, “But the baby’s fine, etc”, “You seem happy” … The first 18 months I experienced excruciating pelvic pain and while I wasn’t fully incapacitated like you have been, it was torturous. It is not “normal” pain – it is post-birth pain magnified by at least 100 and lasting months and sometimes years. It took 2 years for the pain not to be occurring on a daily basis. 10 years on it has almost completely disappeared, with just the occasional shooting pain in that region. I eventually went on to have four more precious children. I am absolutely appalled (although not surprised) by the horrendous care given to women in the USA.
This was happening in 1987 when I had our second daughter. My natural birth was NOT in their plan and my husband had to be my body guard as well as our daughters. This was exactly the reason my last two were home births. Our oldest daughter had the exact same experience.
I’m a nurse (not in labor/delivery) and it made me so sick reading what those nurses did to you. I am so so sorry for you and my hats off to you having the courage to file lawsuit . Every one of those so called “health Care providers” should be fired, lose their license, and in jail for assault ! I’m so sorry that damages they inflicted on you but am glad your son is healthy though. God bless you both and your family, and healing for you.
That nurse has no business being a nurse. She needs to find another job if she can’t treat people like human beings. I hope they fire her.
I delivered 3 babies at Brookwood, once my Dr wasn’t available so I had to use the dr that was on call that night. That delivery was the smoothest, and quickest one of the 3. I know for sure you don’t get to chose your own plan, they do it they way they think it should be done. Pretty sure I had some nerve damages too, but I have not gone back for them to check bc they don’t take into consideration the way you like things done. The hospital itself is incredible, but the delivery floor needs some major reconstruction. Don’t advertise personal options are available it they actually are not. Dr. Robinette was my main dr, but idk who delivered my baby in my last pregnancy bc I was 4.5cm dilated and water broke by the time I got to the hospital, so you can imagine the pain level drug free.
Wow I’m so thankful for the birth center in my area! I was bullied in my first 2 births. First one I was induced (thankful for) my only complaint is that they forgot blood work and I had to wait 2 hours after requesting an epidural to actually get it. Second birth was horrifying, water broke in car went to hospital within 2 hours, immediately got pitocin (not a big deal to me) asked if I wanted epidural I said we’ll see. Every 30 min I was woken up by anesthesiologist to ask if I wanted it yet I wasn’t feeling strong contractions yet but after being woken up 5 times I said whatever I’ll take it, because I was afraid they wouldn’t come when I really wanted it. So she starts digging in my back, I’m in extreme pain and told her forget it. She wouldn’t stop a half hour of her digging and me screaming stop with nurses holding me still she “gets it” I instantly start itching to the point I tore my chest up to the point of bleeding and still felt everything I wasn’t numb, just itchy!!! I asked 4 times for the epidural to be removed!!! They refused! So at this point we are about 6/7 hours into labor and not anymore dilated than when I came in. Doctor comes in and says we’re going to do a c section here soon if you don’t hurry up…. I say to hell you won’t (no sign of infection, no heart distress) she replies you don’t have a choice!!!!! I ended up delivering vaginally and guess what? Perfect baby! I refused to ever go back to a hospital for a birth especially since15 minutes after birth I stood up and walked to bathroom laughing at them saying I told you epidural didn’t work! I vowed if I ever had children again they wouldn’t be born at a hospital if everything was ok with baby and me. I fell pregnant again and was planning home birth (my husband didn’t know this) it was going to be an accident 🙂 but I’m a what if kind of person so I was torn! Then I discovered we had the only freestanding birth center in the area. My birth was amazing, my wonderful midwife (now good friend) never told me what to do, never spoke unless I wanted her to, explained everything. Only checked me when I asked her to it was amazing. Next birth was also at this birth center. completely uncomparable to the other 3 besides being a girl…. My water didn’t break ahead of time like before, extreme contractions while I’m like ok why hasn’t my water broken yet? I’m in so much pain waiting on water to break but didn’t want to bother my friend too soon…. My husband forced me to call and told her we are coming now. As I walked in the door she asked which room I wanted I said I don’t give a f*** just check me ASAP because I’m dying! Turns out I wasn’t dying and I was 8 cm. I was in unbearable pain and my back hurt so bad I was holding my breath and sobbing uncontrollably. She sat on bed with me and rubbed my back, I said I need to push, she got up and stood in front of me to catch, got sprayed with fluid when my water broke, minutes later was handing me my baby girl all within 20 minutes of getting there. Turns out she was posterior and that was back labor lol…. I was so exhausted that I honestly didn’t want much to do with baby I wanted a hot shower and nap and broke down and had a cigarette!!! Lol she never judged her and the nurse loved the baby up never woke me up except for feeding her and I was a new person a couple hours later and went home! I can’t thank her enough and she even brought me clothes at home later that night and we still chat all the time. America needs more cnm’s that are for the mother but also know when to step in and completely trained for any birth complications that may arise. We need more birth centers or hospitals really need to change the way things are routinely done. Why were you going to cut me open just because baby was taking her time? Maybe it would have went a little faster if I was able to get out of bed? I had no signs of distress and neither did my baby! Ugh I have never treated patients with such disrespect nor will I ever no matter what. I will lose my job before I treat any patients like some have you have been treated!!! Jobs are replaceable, my conscious isn’t!
I just proofread that, and I apologize for my grammar. I swear I’m not stupid, just tired and this post really stuck a nerve!
This sounds like me but nowhere near the degree of what you experienced. I gave birth at St. Mary’s hospital in Athens, GA, because it’s where my OB preferred. The biggest problem was with the L&D nurses. I understood that I needed to be monitored because I was being induced. But I wasn’t prepared for the fact that the nurses would insist that I labor entirely on my back. Which, by they way, has been scientifically proven to decrease blood flow and oxygen to the baby. Can ANYONE explain to me how when you’re pregnant you’re advised not to lay on your back, and yet this is exactly the position you’re forced into to give birth?! I literally counted the minutes because I was allowed to get up and use the bathroom, which I did every hour whether I needed to or not, because it was the only time I got any relief from the pain. It was so much better when I could sit or stand. Once, when I just decided I was going to sit up, the nurse came in and told me I needed to lie down. I said, “It feels so much better sitting up. I can’t sit up?” and she huffed and said they had to get me back on the monitor (which apparently the only way she could figure out how to do that was for me to lay flat on my back). I knew it was bullshit. I still know it is. The nurse who commented negatively earlier is just regurgitating all the crap they are spoon-fed about delivery. I’m a medical assistant, and I researched natural childbirth before my baby was due-and I mean in depth. I even studied obstetrical textbooks. Even in the childbirth prep class I signed up for they lectured on using other positions to ease pain and facilitate delivery. I just don’t understand WHY “the establishment” of mainstream nurses and hospitals continue to abuse women in this manor. That is EXACTLY what it is too-abuse. They know that you either cannot stand up for yourself or are too afraid to stand up for yourself. I wish that I had put up more of a fight. By the time the Pitocin was amped up almost as high as they could administer it, I was delirious with pain. In my desperation I took the pain meds while waiting for an epidural. After that they had me exactly where they wanted me to be. Laid back flat, feet up in stirrups, quiet and compliant. I commend you for giving a voice to everyone who has been through this. I commend you even more for filing a lawsuit. The bottom line is that we can all talk about these things as much as we want, but until healthcare providers and facilities start feeling it where it really hurts-their public image and their wallets-it is all in vain.
I have battled and debated with myself on whether I should share my story on here or not, and I have decided to share it. I live in Kentucky and the hospital I had my son (he is my first child) at was Middlesboro ARH (or Appalachian regional healthcare hospital). I really wanted to switch doctors/hospitals after hearing other stories about the place but I was told I was too far along to switch. My sons due date was July 24th 2015. My insurance got shut off in May for paperwork problems and I was told it would be back on July 1st. At 96 dollars an office visit I didn’t have the money to keep showing up at my doctors office and pay up front to be seen so I missed my Ob/gyn appointments for the whole month of June. When it came to me being almost 34 weeks I went to the hospital because I was having contractions regularly 3 to 4 minutes apart. I was checked and told I had dialated to 3 but I wasn’t effacing so they sent me home, still having regular contractions. I went back 3 days later because I was still having regular contractions but this time less than 3 minutes apart. The contractions weren’t painful just uncomfortable. They monitored me for an hour and sent me home cause I wasn’t dialating. I decided not to come back until my water broke. I ended up going back 2 days later cause I passed out 3 times and I felt dizzy and my neck and head were burning. I was still having contractions so they wouldn’t treat me in the ER (which I think annoyed the nurse) but come to find out they were admitting me because I had low potassium and iron. By this time my contractions were still 3 minutes apart but they were registering over 120 on the monitor and lasting around a minute each time. The on call doctor decided the next morning to keep me 2 days cause they were giving me steroid injections to make sure his lungs were developed “just incase something happened in about a week.” They didn’t give me anything to stop the contractions though. At this time I was 35 weeks. They sent me home and at 35 weeks 6 days my water broke. It was 5:00pm on June 24th, exactly a month before my due date. My mother-in-law lives 5 minutes from the hospital so she got there first and started registering me. They were almost done when I got there. We still sat there for almost an hour in the ER waiting room for a nurse to come down and get me. At this time the contractions were still just uncomfortable and very managable (and because of that the head nurse there that day didn’t actually believe my water broke). When they first hooked me up to the monitor my husband turned it so I could see the contractions and hear my sons heartbeat better (which was comforting to me) but the head nurse came back in and turned it back the way it was before and turned the volume down so I could barely hear it (that was strike one for me but I kept my composure). I was registering 170 on the monitor and I was handling it pretty well no pain meds needed. I was only 3 1/2 centimeters at this time and 80% effaced. It took me until 9:30 to dialate to 4 1/2 centimeters. At this time I was having a lot of pressure and I told my husband, mother, and mother in law that I needed to push. They got the nurse and she checked me and said “you can’t push cause you are only 4 1/2 centimeters and you will hurt the baby. Just breathe.” at that moment in had an overwhelming urge to stand up and walk around or just change positions to relieve the pressure. I was told I couldn’t do that cause I would hurt the baby. (My son wasn’t in any form of distress or anything). I was also told I couldn’t walk around cause my son could fall out on the floor (I’m only 4 1/2 centimeters hello??? If He won’t come out when I push he sure won’t make an appearance just by having me stand up for a few minutes). But my husband and mother listened to the nurse and held me on the bed each time I tried to get up (They were misinformed and I don’t hold that against either of them). Then the nurse came in and during every contraction for 10 minutes straight (My contractions were less than a minute apart and lasting about a minute each and registering over 250) asked me do you want an epideral, are you sure you don’t want an epideral, are you sure cause we can’t give you one after 5 centimeters, are you sure you don’t want an epideral, I can still call them up here if you change your mind, are you sure you don’t want something? (I wanted an unmedicated delivery, and I said to begin with I absolutely didn’t want an epidural). After 10 minutes of her stressing all of us out my husband finally begged me to take something so I could relax a little. I told her she could give me the mildest IV pain meds they had. The meds acted more like a seditive than pain relief cause I still felt everything but I was dozing off between contractions (the whole 45 second break I got if I was lucky.) After that the nurse stayed out of the room for 45 minutes (thank God). 45 minutes after I got the pain meds I had the urge to push again and it wasn’t subsiding. My husband got the nurse and she checked me. Everyone was expecting 5 maybe 6 centimeters. The nurse got frantic when I was 9 1/2 centimeters and fully effaced. She told me to just breathe and don’t push. (The doctor wasn’t even at the hospital at this time, She had to go call him.) She was setting everything up and I kept saying I have to push. She said just breathe cause you want push while you are breathing (yeah right I was every bit to the point of hyperventilating and still pushing) by the time the doctor got into the room I was in so much pain from holding back from pushing that I said again that I have to push. The doctor, who wasn’t even ready, looked over and saw my son crowning and told me to go ahead and push. I didn’t hesitate. My sons head was almost out by the time the doctor got over there. My son was out in 7 minutes but I was left with a tear that I believe came from me trying not to push as he was crowning. My son also had to get and xray cause they thought he might have broken something during delivery cause there was a loud pop. From what they told me nothing was broken. After that they brought my son to me and as I was about to nurse him another nurse came in and said when he is hungry call me and I will show you how to use these premade bottles. I said “bottles? I’m breastfeeding.” the nurse was puzzled and said “They put bottle feeding on your paperwork.” I said “no I told the other nurse 3 times that I’m breastfeeding.” That nurse, still puzzled, said “well ok but I will leave these bottles in here just in case you change your mind.” I didn’t change my mind so they took them out after realizing my son was doing very well breastfeeding. To top it all off the on call doctor who delivered him (who was the same on call doctor who gave me the steroid shots 6 days earlier) said that he thinks my doctor had the due date wrong cause my son was 7 pounds 2.3 ounces and 19 1/2 inches long and pretty much fully developed (which isn’t the size they expected a baby almost 36 weeks to be.) I’m glad out of all that went on I have a healthy boy and I wasn’t injured like Caroline was but I will never have another baby at that hospital.
While I hate a sue-happy culture, I hope she is also suing the individual nurses for assault. Until they care providers are just as afraid of consequences for ignoring informed consent (in this case LACK of consent) as they are a charge of not doing enough, I’m afraid they’ll only pay attention to their normal procedures.
While we are incredibly Sue happy there seems to be a huge issue when it comes to seeing over actual problems. Stuff like this? Dear god please sue!!! Sue all of them! But rarely does it happen. Of course when someone’s coffee is too hot the first thing they do is jump on the phone with their lawyer.
We need to stop accepting this as just ‘how it is’ and start hitting these hospitals, doctors, and nurses where it matters most to them, their wallets.
Was the baby injured by having his head held in for 6 minutes? The nurse held my sons head in until the dr arrived and my son has been suffering with neck pain since birth…
Oh god. Just awful. I can’t believe this goes on, and it wasn’t even just a freak occurrence. I have no idea if you son’s pain is caused by that, but so sorry that was done to you and your son.
I’m so sorry for your experience Caroline. My heart breaks for you. I experienced a bait & switch with all 3 of my births, if I’m honest with myself. My 3rd was even born at home & I sd till wasn’t respected… I was made to get out of the water while I was pushing. Bc of which, I ended up delivering my baby standing up. The midwife dropped my baby on the floor when she tried to catch her. The thud still resonates in my ears. For my first baby, I was lied to & bullied into a csection. I was given no choice. Then, with my second, at a different hospital, I was promised autonomy. But instead, during labor I was bullied & berated & threatened by the physician on call, as well as other staff. I was given a csection I did not want. That I was convinced to comply with purely out of fear for mine & my baby’s safety. A surgery I was not fully numbed during & felt everything, including the excruciating pain that went with it. It was nothing like my 1st csection… My first csection I felt nothing except some pressure. I also wasn’t allowed to hold baby for over an hour afterward. I have numbness & significant adhesions from my last surgery. I suffered from ptsd afterwards. Overy 3 years later & I still have issues from it. This type of treatment toward women HAS to stop. We are not children. We are not incapable of making our own informed decisions. We are not incapable of following our instincts & listening to our bodies. I can only imagine how hard this has been for you Caroline, & how hard it continues to be. You are STRONG! And most of all… THANK YOU. For speaking up. For refusing to just take it & accept it as the norm. Bc it’s not normal. It’s unfortunately, common. But it is far from normal. Thank you for helping to shed light on the horrible maternity system that exists here in the US. Thank you for speaking up & for refusing to just “take it”. You are a fierce & strong warrior mama! Idk if you’re religious, but I will be praying for you & sending all my love <3
Its not the nurse’s fault this is hospital protocol. Its hospital protocol that the baby not be born in the birthing tub. That advertised birthing suite tub was broken for the first year the new women’s center was broken. I had many of the same thoughts and questions running through my head as to why the marketing was aimed at a broken tub that no one would actually be allowed to give birth in. Its hospital protocol that a physician be present. The physician does not want to be called until the baby is at the delivery stage.
Only following orders eh?
I had a midwife with my birth 37 years ago. And may I say I wouldn’t have it any other way. When I was uncomfortable with the number of people rushing in and out of the room constantly and asked for 2 minutes of peace, she got me 5. She tossed everyone, including the doctor out. She was there for me the whole time, gave credence to my choices and told the staff they could do what I said or go, she didn’t care but ultimately I was the patient and she would enforce my decisions. A strong person to stand by your side is vital. My hubby missed the birth because he was filling out paperwork.
I am a UK trained midwife now working in Australia and am absolutely appalled that you experienced such horrendous care. They should be ashamed to say any of that was in the interests of the baby.
Having worked in the private sector here I know things can depend on the obstetricians personal believes even then position is up to the woman.
Continuous monitoring is not warranted in a low risk pregnancy. Even if it is needed and no wireless you can still stand, sit in a chair or on a ball or on your knees.
I truly feel sorry for women having to birth in America where there is so much disrespect for evidence based care. The birthing outcomes are worse not better.
Gave birth at Brookwood quite long ago. Nurses left me for three hours in labor because “my physician husband was with me. “But he was asleep having just worked a 24 hr shift in an ER. When they finally came I was 10 cm dilated.
Having experienced a fall that could have led to fetal injury, I went to Providence hospital in Everett and was referred to their women’s pavilion after I was checked out for broken bones etc in their ER. When I found out they planned to strap me to EFM and confine me to a gurney for 24 hours I refused and insisted that EFM would in no case be used on me it led to a series of discussions with nurses and midwives all trying to bully and intimidate me into complying with their misguided treatment plan. After negotiating with these people for 4 hours in the lobby, the charge nurse agreed to intermittent monitoring and I agreed to admission. From that point on, I was harassed, badgered and scolded by every individual who entered my room to provide ‘care.’ Not a single person working for that hospital evidenced any respect for my wishes. After fighting with a series of nurses and midwives for more than 8 hours, at 1AM, an OBGYN who I’d never seen before entered my room and explained that I could either consent to 4 hours of EFM (down from 24) or leave the hospital.
I asked her why she thought me leaving the hospital and having no monitoring was a better treatment plan then continuing the intermittent monitoring I’d consented to and that had been ongoing for about 4 hours at that point. She wouldn’t answer that question.
I took my chart and found a study in it indicating that EFM can improve outcomes/detect problems if it’s used after traumatic injury for around four hours, if it’s used immediately following the injury. At that time it had been 12 hours since I was injured and fetal heart tones were excellent. There was absolutely so reason to use EFM at that point- according to the research this OB was using.
They had given me a medical release to sign. My options were to obey or leave. I refused to sign, but did write that I had sought treatment, but had agreed to admission on the condition EFM would not be used. Then after 6 hours of re-justifying myself to everyone who walked in demanding I do so, this OB comes in and uses coercion to attempt to bully me into consenting to an unnecessary procedure which is tied to worse fetal/maternal health outcomes in order to satisfy her own bias and so she can check a box in her file.
So when she came back for her release and my chart, I told her to ‘get the f*ck out,’ grabbed my stuff and left. Then I cancelled all of my appointments with the women’s pavilion, and found a birth center in Mt Vernon. And BTW they’d also failed to ID my broken rib after all that.
Patriarchal, authoritarian maternal/fetal medicine needs to die a long, slow, painful death.
i gave birth to my second daughter in a catholic hospital. the same one i had been born in. my birth plan included no bottles or pacifiers, since i intended to nurse and had issues with my previous children being willing to work for their food after a bottle. My husband had been told, due to previous trauma in the OR, that he could be present when I was sedated, to avoid a panic attack. When the time came, not only was he not present, I was strapped down like I was being crucified and told to shut up and do what I was told. After a horrifying c-section , during which I nearly died from an allergic reaction to the anesthetic, I struggled for hours to wake up, with no help or monitoring. When I did finally wake up, nurses treated me like an idiot for wanting to see my child, telling me she was a girl, she’s fine, you dont need to see her. mind you she was nearly 18 hours old by this time. I saw her for the first time THE NEXT DAY! And the hits just keep coming. The nursery bottle fed her WATER–no infant needs water. They didnt let me pump colostrum for her or anything else. They used a binky and water for 2 days before giving her formula. During this time , I saw her one time. I phoned my parents to notify them of her birth. At this time, a nurse came in and added a pain med dispenser to my IV and told me it was morphine. I told her take it away, I’m nursing and that’s bad for the baby. She checks my chart, tells me “no, she’s bottle fed. youre not allowed to nurse, ever. you’re a drug addict.” (i wasnt) THEN–same nurse comes back in to see my room mate while I am crying on the phone to my mother. Hits the plunger on the morphine dispenser and KNOCKS ME OUT—telling me “your roommate is complaining about all the noise youre making from pain. you really need to use this.” (mind you–they think im an addict but they are giving me a highly addictive opiate for pain) This nurse, and others, kept me unconscious for FIVE DAYS! By the time I saw my daughter again, she was nearly a week old, her name had been changed, my SISTER IN LAW was being paraded around as the proud mother! and I was being treated like a criminal. Then, to cap it off, they had refused to do my tubal ligation–although they were paid for it, and refused to transfer me out of their system to another hospital to have it done before my incision healed fully. For the record? NEVER a drug addict. THEY gave me anesthetic that was a hallucinogen. THEY gave me opiates for pain. I suffered for months getting that stuff out of my system. My daughter? She bonded with her father instead. I was just the incubator.
I was a nurse at Brookwood and resigned when I realized I’d rather leave nursing than go against my beliefs about birth as a natural process. I would cry every day on my way to and from work. A number of years later, I began working with a CPM and discovered how safe and empowering home birth could be. I also began working as a doula at the local hospitals, one of which was Brookwood. I had a client that the nurse tried to physically force into lying on her back to push. She desperately wanted to stand up to push. I had helped and even caught babies from a standing position so I knew better. I finally convinced the doctor to allow her to kneel. He popped off his gloves and said, “Whatever”. She was able to push twice and the baby was crowning. All ended well, but both the mother and I were left feeling like we’d had to fight while she tried to give birth. It was exhausting on so many levels! He hurriedly put his gloves back on and caught the baby. During another situation (again at Brookwood), I had a female doctor cross her arms and refuse to help a mom give birth because the baby was crowning. The mom told her she couldn’t get out of the tub as she had been ordered to by the nurse and the doctor . I quickly reached my hands in and helped baby be born without mom tearing. Fortunately, the mom was unaware of what was going on behind her as she birthed (she had gotten into a kneeling position in an effort to get out as requested.). She didn’t even know it was me who had given her perineal support. I sobbed all the way home and knew from that birth forward that i couldn’t ever watch another scenario like I’d just witnessed. I also had a doctor at St. Vincent’s tell me that their practice had a policy of no doulas allowed to attend births. Forget the mother’s needs, I guess. Because of the laws here in Alabama, my midwife quit doing home births so I am no longer helping moms. It’s just too stressful.
Caroline, as an RN and a doula, I can only say that I’m so sorry for what you’ve had to endure. I admire your courage and strength to stand up for yourself and even other mothers so that hopefully, no one else has to go through what you’ve been through and continue to endure. I pray your neuralgia resolves over time. I have trigeminal neuralgia so I can identify with what you go through daily. There aren’t words to express how heavy it makes my heart for your suffering.
I was induced and then put on picotin. I was able to move around and get in the tub. My husband was my cheerleader, but my labor ended up going way over what was comfortable. I ended up having over a 50 hour labor. I had some drug that made me really loopy. I started singing we represent the lollipop guild. I was told to lie on my side which really hurt. I tried to sleep and couldn’t so they gave me more drugs to sleep. The contractions were so hard that I squeezed a banana until it broke into pieces with the peel on. I practically broke my husband’s hand and he is 6’2. My water broke about 2 hours before I started pushing. I thought I may deliver her without it breaking. I had a fantastic epidural which made me not feel much. I got to pushing and her heart rate started dropping and even with a vacuum they couldn’t get her out. Her head ended up being bigger than how much I was dilated. I ended up having to have an emergency c-section. It was crazy and I wish they wouldn’t have let me birth that long.
I was nearly caught in a situation like this with our third child over twenty years ago. We lived in Louisiana at the time, which like Alabama was decades behind the rest of the country. I chose a new hospital that advertised it’s friendliness to choosing your own birth circumstances. Thankfully, about halfway through my pregnancy, two different friends of mine gave birth there with my doctor and experienced very much what Caroline did. At my next appointment, I respectfully shared my concerns with my doctor. To my shock, he screamed at me! He verbally abused me, accusing me about not caring about the safety of my child (which was ridiculous since I’d had to insist he intervene in a high risk situation we’d already faced). He asked me where I’d gotten my medical degree, implying I didn’t have a right to have an opinion about my own care. I felt so threatened that I got off the table, wrapped in the paper “sheet” and fled to the other side of the room.
It was a horrible thing to go through, but I was thankful it happened then and not in labor! I never went back to his office, even though it was very hard to find a new doctor twenty weeks into a high risk pregnancy. Since then, I’ve heard similar stories across the country. What is shocking to me is that this kind of abusive treatment is way less safe for both mother and baby. How on earth can they justify it?
I am a nurse. I know medical protocols are in place to protect the patient and help guide clinicians. That being said, birth is not an emergency. There can be emergent situations in birth and that is why I choose to birth in hospitals, but basically I want to be left alone unless something is wrong. When a patient decides to go on hospice we do not declare them incompetent, yet they are refusing life saving care. When a patient does not consent to surgery or is not willing to take a medication that a clinician provides, there is no one bullying them into the or or shoving a pill in their mouth; yet somehow it is seen as common practice to do this to healthy women in labor. I will never understand this. Drug seeking addicts get more respect in the ER than laboring women receive. Quite frankly if I didn’t have the history that I have, or family history for that matter, I would labor at home. It scares me to think about how I will be treated. It scares me even more now that I am a nurse, because I should understand and comply. Last time I was given pitocin without my knowledge, thankfully it was postpartum, but I am still angry about it. I have no trauma like what you suffered, but it still scares me to think about my future labor. I am so sorry that there are medical “professionals” out there who can justify you being assaulted. It sickens me, nurses are there to care, to be advocates. No one was your advocate that day. I hope that you can find a treatment that will help with your nerve damage and begin to live your life again. Love and Hugs to you Momma!
There are SO many women who will not admit they were abused during birth. They cannot fathom someone who was supposed to have their best interests at heart would actually harm them. They put the blame on themselves. They say, “If it weren’t for the doctor/the c-section/etc., my baby would have died!” But in reality, the majority of the time, it was those healthcare “professionals” and those interventions that PUT them and baby at risk in the first place. I have been almost in this woman’s shoes. I changed care providers very late in my pregnancy to have a better chance at the birth I wanted. My nurse midwife was amazing personally, but my birth was still medically driven. I was given a drug that is not “approved” for use during labor (used off-label), that is used for ABORTIONS! THAT is what could have killed me or my baby.
Had I known how quickly my children would be born, I would have just gotten up off my BACK and pushed my son out, and he would have been fine. I would have been shaken up, but I would have felt more empowered. I would have actually felt like a mother. Instead, in a whirl of drug-fogged confusion, I was strapped to an operating table and put to sleep, all the while KNOWING I was about to die. My last thoughts being a prayer to God to please just take care of my baby.
And when I woke, hours later, I began a journey that would take years to traverse. Depression, PTSD, anxiety and panic attacks… I could not bond with my baby. I was numb. I was lost. I could not breastfeed. My body and my mind and my HEART was broken. His birthdays were not times of celebration, but of grief over the loss of what should have been one of the happiest moments of my life. And I felt I could not share these feelings for so long because I had a healthy baby (or did I? He has ADHD, ODD, anxiety, asthma, allergies…). I mean, he was in distress. He could have DIED! Thank God we were in the hospital, right? Thank God for the c-section, right? We were “okay.” That’s all that mattered in the end, right? No… No, no, no!!!!
Then I went home with a spinal headache. I couldn’t even sit upright or stand without being sick for DAYS. Add that to major surgical recovery and trying to care for a newborn baby. I was USELESS. I was helpless. I just wanted to die. Yes, you read that right. I wanted to die. I thought it would have been better had I died in that operating room. No new mother should EVER feel that way. Never!
And here we are over eleven years later, and I still sit here with this deep, untouchable ache in my heart, tears stinging my eyes. That pain and grief will never completely go away. I will ALWAYS feel that loss. Even after having a beautiful, successful VBAC (although I still had to fight one nasty nurse, but I was prepared this time!) and the most AMAZING home birth, I will never forget the trauma and distress and agony of my first birth experience. And I will never stop speaking out about the injustice. I will never stop fighting for and praying for better maternity care in our country and in our world. Mothers deserve it. Babies deserve it. My daughter deserves it. My daughters-in-law deserve it.
Do not be quiet. Speak up. Stand up and fight! Bring amazing, beautiful, peaceful birth back…
~Another Alabama Momma
It’s crazy how they advertise some of these hospitals as being lower intervention, when shouldn’t they already not offer things if not necessary? The fact that they AUTOMATICALLY hook women up to iv’s like a labrat, it says everything. Not allowed to eat or drink and given fluids. Try to give every woman Pitocin. Some hospitals flaunt special midwives, that are supposed to be somehow different, to save women from mad scientist Drs? The way some of the hospitals act like they’ve changed while still being 1 in 3 C-section rate or higher. It really represents the massive chasm in the inner hospital politics between Drs/nurses who care about patients (however rare) and those who, as you said, are just in a power struggle.
I hear this way too often- traumatic birth stories. All I can say is go to a midwife! I am one and I have never attended a birth like any of these described. So sad. I always have said, as women, we only have the birth experience so very few times in our lives, the providers and nurses need to make it the best experience possible. That is what I have done throughout my nursing and now my midwife career.