Inquests & Public Inquiries
Medical Negligence

Parliamentary Inquiry: Zahra’s Birth Trauma Experience

4 min read time

Zahra was one of more than 20 clients of Hudgell Solicitors to submit a statement to the Parliamentary Birth Trauma Inquiry, describing her own experience, and the impact it had on her.

Zahra said:

I experienced a prolonged labour and should have had an emergency caesarean section to deliver my baby. Due to prolonged deceleration of the baby’s heart rate it was agreed however to cancel it.

The medical staff disagreed amongst themselves on the decision in front of me and we ended up in a vote with everyone in the room including myself being asked to take part. I was in utter shock by the unprofessionalism. My tissued cannula caused me intense pain yet staff failed to change it until I was in theatre the following morning.

I had a forceps delivery which involved an episiotomy, where I was cut to allow my child to be born. I developed an abscess wound which continues to cause sharp shooting pain as well as a constant dull ache. I have never experienced pain like I did post-birth with the wound infection that continued to worsen and despite this, I was discharged from the hospital.

Being a first-time mother, I wish I had known more about the support that was available such as the matrons, as I would have asked for their intervention a lot sooner. I found midwives and consultants dismissive of any issues or concerns I raised, they just didn’t listen.

I feel medical staff failed to provide me with adequate support throughout my labour and post birth. During labour, one midwife continuously blamed me for my high heart rate, which then turned out to be due to an infection. Having just given birth, and with a catheter still in place, I asked the staff to get my baby’s milk from the fridge. I asked 5 midwives before one told me to get up myself, but then told me she would get it this time only because I had just given birth, but next time I should get it myself.

Due to an abscess infection which was developing where I had the episiotomy, I could barely sit or stand without crying out in pain. I was ignored, and my mother was called an “anxious mother” for pushing for a doctor to come to see me. I was told that the increased swelling in my legs was due to me not walking enough and that the pain in my bowel area was fine and I was sent home.

I returned the next day unable to walk without screaming in agony, and it turned out my bladder had swollen due to water retention which had to be drained immediately through a catheter and I had a huge abscess infection.

My community midwife was nice and warm and open to having discussions and providing advice. However, I think there are certain topics that should be discussed beforehand, for example empowering women on their rights (i.e. c-sections if there is a long labour or complications) and support/escalation routes should they experience difficulty with medical staff.

I was lucky enough to be able to access private medical care through my work medical insurance as I had lost all faith in the NHS and that hospital but I know many women will not be as fortunate.

I would like the way in which doctors/midwives interact with one another and patients during emergency situations to be reviewed and best practices reviewed/established. I would also like to see a review of the role of the midwives and refresher training for them on what their roles and responsibilities are, as well as providing correct patient care. I also believe they are under-resourced and their working hours should be reviewed, as many staff complained of working extremely long hours and being tired.

Read more: Why Hudgell Solicitors is calling for a Public Inquiry into maternity services.

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