‘I was completely helpless and unable to stop them’ – Banbury mother describes 'huge betrayal' as she suffered appalling birth experience

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‘I was completely helpless and unable to stop them’ – a Banbury mother has described her appalling birth experience as a ‘huge betrayal’.

Mrs EC was cut and forceps used, against her wishes, to deliver her twins on December 3, 2018 at the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, two years after the downgrade of Banbury’s consultant-led maternity hospital service.

She has shared her terrible experience in a Keep the Horton General campaign dossier of 50 birth trauma incidents, published next week.

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Mrs EC’s natural childbirth plan became a nightmare of being ‘managed’ with artificial interventions and forceps used without permission, in a theatre she believes was used for ‘experimenting’ and with students present, against her will.

A mother says she was cut and her twin babies delivered by forceps against her wishes in an account in a new dossier of birth trauma stories. Picture by GettyA mother says she was cut and her twin babies delivered by forceps against her wishes in an account in a new dossier of birth trauma stories. Picture by Getty
A mother says she was cut and her twin babies delivered by forceps against her wishes in an account in a new dossier of birth trauma stories. Picture by Getty

Her account echoes others whose wishes were ignored as overworked doctors and midwives managed a logjam of deliveries.

Mrs EC said: “I would like to look on the day my babies were born with happiness and love but all I can think of is the mistreatment and pain.”

Banbury mother Mrs EC went to the JR full of hope. First she was put in a bleak room with no windows. She was not given a gown.

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She was obliged to have a catheter and a badly placed cannula. A physical condition meant Mrs EC could not lie on her back and chose to labour on all fours. The doctor wanted her on her back and said she needed an internal examination.

The Horton Maternity Hospital whose obstetric service was removed in 2016 without consultation. Campaigners want to have the service reinstatedThe Horton Maternity Hospital whose obstetric service was removed in 2016 without consultation. Campaigners want to have the service reinstated
The Horton Maternity Hospital whose obstetric service was removed in 2016 without consultation. Campaigners want to have the service reinstated

"The doctor stuck her hand inside with no care in the middle of a contraction and I cried out. This is a memory that will stay with me for life. I was completely helpless and unable to stop them,” she said.

“The doctor decided I needed to continue to labour in theatre ‘just in case’. She talked quickly and due to her accent I couldn’t understand her. The midwife argued that I was fine and pushing had been going well.

"Twin 1s heart rate had only dipped briefly and she could see her head coming down. They didn’t listen to the midwife. My mum and husband witnessed people saying the equipment was faulty. There was no let up in the intense contractions. My husband was distressed and tried to fight my corner as they were arguing over me instead of looking after me.

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"I was wheeled to theatre on the understanding I would continue to push as normal and my husband would be allowed in. The doctor appeared and gave me a form to sign. I remember seeing something written on a board like ‘trial instrumental delivery’ but it was already there so I didn’t take any notice.

The John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford where the vast majority of women from the Horton catchment must travel to give birthThe John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford where the vast majority of women from the Horton catchment must travel to give birth
The John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford where the vast majority of women from the Horton catchment must travel to give birth

“Then told me I needed a spinal - something I was very scared of and didn’t want to have. The anaesthetist tried to reassure me. The only way I can describe how I felt was I had given up.

"By the time they let my husband in I was numb from the chest down, flat on my back and he was as confused as me. People started to come in even though I asked for no students. They argued with each other across me. I begged the midwife to stay as she was the only person that seemed to care. I remember her saying she was so so, sorry this had happened to me.

“When my daughter was born they dumped her on my stomach facing away. I remember touching her head covered in hair – another memory that breaks my heart; why didn’t they show me my baby?

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“They all argued about hurrying Twin 2 with more hormones even though his heart rate was fine and there were no issues. Delayed cord clamping was something I felt really strongly about. I heard a man say ‘erm that was about a minute’ after my boy was born. It didn’t seem like they waited at all. I didn’t get to see him. They took him and wrapped him up. I didn’t even see the umbilical cord or the placenta.

"Even after 8 hours in labour I would have taken the pain to push my babies out as I wanted, instead of on my back like a vegetable - I was robbed of all of that.”

Mrs EC had to ask if she had torn and they told her they had made a ‘small cut’.

"An episiotomy is one thing I explicitly did not want and I was not asked before they made that decision. There was no indication of an emergency delivery but they used forceps and cut me without asking. I believe they used a slight, alleged dip in my daughter’s heart rate (if it wasn’t down to faulty equipment) to hurry my labour along to suit them and give their students training.”

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After zero sleep she was moved to a tiny, hot room with windows that did not stay open.

"I was abandoned. They checked me after an hour and then left me to it. I had to keep the cannula in ‘just in case’ so every time I bent my arm it hurt. I could hardly sit due to pain from the episiotomy. I was left in this tiny room sweating, frantically trying to express breast milk whilst keeping the babies settled. I am a first-time mum so this would have all been scary and new even without everything else,” she said.

It took 20 minutes to get a response from he buzzer.

“All they cared about was breastfeeding, they gave me no other help. The lady who showed me to the room said there were loads of staff on that day yet nobody cared.”

Repeated attempts to get decent food failed but there was time for an assistant ‘with a knitted boob’ to lecture her on breastfeeding.

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"I did not want to stay. My husband arrived and we entered a battle to get discharged. The midwives were stalling us intentionally and said we must wait until the night shift as the paperwork would take so long.

"Around 10pm we started prepping the babies to leave. A lady came in and went through a bunch of leaflets (although nothing to tell me how to care for the episiotomy wound). Nobody spoke to me about after-care for me, having been through what I had. I was given no pain relief, just injections to prevent blood clots.

“I finally showered late that night at home and almost had a panic attack – I couldn’t breathe.”

After a few days Mrs EC’s stitches opened leaving her with a gaping wound.

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"There’s no way to describe day-to-day life looking after newborn twins with an open episiotomy wound. It was excruciating, walking, sitting, going to the toilet, everything. After numerous checks and different courses of antibiotics for infections, it sort-of healed, over three months of suffering.

"I also had intense abdominal pains for which I was given Naproxen and investigative scans. These did not go for 7 months and I’m told may be a result of internal injury.

"This, combined, massively took away from enjoying my babies; it made it difficult to get much joy out of anything. Nine months on I am a week post operation to refashion my episiotomy which has slightly opened up again so I may need another operation,” she said.

Mrs EC considers herself a strong person, speaking her mind and handling pain well.

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"The day my babies were born my options were taken from me. Nobody can get inside my head to feel what I felt and I wouldn’t want them to.

"I want to turn back time and have the joyful birth so many women have. I would like to look on the day my babies were born with happiness and love but all I can think of is the mistreatment and pain.

"If nothing else, doctors, nurses and midwives need to understand what they consider small decisions can impact the rest of a person’s life, physically and mentally. I can never get those memories back or get rid of the terrible ones I am left with.”

If you have been affected by a bad childbirth experience you would like to share please contact [email protected]

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