“We need to feel comfortable saying “Stop!” when we see cervical checks without consent. Our clients should be the ones to advocate for themselves whenever possible, but there are times when they can’t and we must.”
“As a Catholic teaching hospital, the cultural aversion to informed consent and bodily autonomy in your childbirth unit makes sense, however, some patients raised this culture as an area of concern in the feedback survey. You shared in your letter that you are “continuing to seek learning opportunities that expand care providers’ understanding of what obstetrical [sic] violence is and ways we can ensure patients don’t experience this under our care” In the meeting it was stated that “ideally we need to embed it into some standardized classes” but you were not able to speak to whether “obstetric violence” or “patient mistreatment” are terms that had come up at all yet, even in less formal conversations and huddles on the unit.
However, you expressed with certainty that there have still been no formalized discussions or training around what constitutes obstetric violence, and how to interrupt the cycle of obstetric violence in your Family Birthing Centre. It was also unclear whether the experiences of abuse and mistreatment some patients shared in their survey responses have been addressed in a comprehensive way.”
“To give an idea of how much blood I lost... I was severely anemic for almost 1 and 1/2 years after having my son. My hemoglobin was so low they weren't going to release me.
But this is when the most heartbreaking thing happened. I wasnt even clear to be released and we were told my son was lowest priority in the neonatal unit and was being transported to St. Catherine's, an hour or so away from our home.
My husband and I were devastated I contacted the hospital management and filed a complaint. But this did nothing. They took him without our expressed consent.”
“I was in tears. I was alone and scared that something was wrong. I had never felt a pain so strong and crushing before. I continued to call my nurse only to be ignored. It had been 8 hours of excruciating pain when a different nurse finally came in. She immediately ran to get my OB and within minutes I was being taken for a C-section. I was in class 3 HELLP syndrome. My liver was about to burst. I was about to die. I almost lost my life and my nurse thought it was gas.”
“And so, in went the pitocin. I made it clear that I only wanted the minimum amount, just enough to start regular contractions. Every time the nurse came to check on me and the machine, she'd raise the rate of delivery a little. When I caught her doing it and asked if she was increasing it, she outright lied and told me they were just trying to adjust the dosage to align with my contractions.”
“I had to go to the ER after a month & a half for pelvic pain. I found out I still had tissue inside, so I had to get a D&C and then get restitched up. Now things down there don’t even look right - good thing I don’t wanna be a stripper! On top of that, I’m now waiting to get my child into physio at CHEO as he has torticollis, which (I’ll be finding out but I’m assuming) is from the trauma of his birth.”
“I was in a lot of pain in my ribs and the NICU was quite a walk for me. When I walked straight, my ribs would hurt so bad I couldn’t breathe. I’d asked a nurse if she could help me get to the NICU by wheeling me in a chair. She said “I’ve got better things to be doing than helping you get to the NICU. Get there yourself”. I had to walk there, back and forth to feed him and then go back to pump. I did this constantly barely able to breathe.”
“During the c-section I felt it all. I felt the cut, I felt them inside me, I felt them stitching me back up. I felt the awful, awful pain. They weren't taking me seriously. They told me there was no way I was feeling it, that it was all in my head. Well, it wasn't. Because of them I will never birth another baby, I can't watch TV shows that show surgeries, I can't talk about my birth, I can't even touch my stomach without being brought back to that table and feeling the pain I felt.”
“I was totally alone with my boyfriend and the baby's head coming out. I was literally crossing my legs bawling that she was coming and wouldn’t be able to breathe. The nurse came in so slowly and said, "It’s impossible you dilated that fast", then I opened my legs and she said "DONT PUSH!" and ran out to find the doctor who was ASLEEP!!!!!! My baby was out 5 minutes later.”
“Every nurse and doctor I spoke to assumed I'd had a C-section and high blood pressure issues which I’ve never had. I was incorrectly diagnosed with HELLP syndrome and had to deliver my baby without my husband as he was removed from the hospital after expressing concerns with my care.”
“Operation starts, I feel a lot of pulling and shaking the table. They were talking amongst themselves about vacations and sports, never said one word to me. Showed me the baby briefly, before whisking him off to NICU because he was 4 lbs. Then they sewed me up. The doctor and anaesthetist left the room laughing and said, ‘See you next year. You'll be back again.’"
“I was 28 years old, having my first baby so I did not know what to expect. I thought the care I received was the standard of care for everyone. It wasn’t until I had my daughter 11 months later with a different doctor & nurse that I realized how much of an impact they had on my first childbirth experience. I can’t help but think that if I was treated with respect & care I wouldn’t have had such bad postpartum depression.”
“Three years later, I made them aware of the emotional heartache that I live with on a daily basis due to their actions and I requested they have miscarriage and pregnancy loss training of some sort. The doc apologized but nothing was ever done.”
“I was trying to get my daughter on bottle - they had her on a feeding tube. After 36 hours of having her on a bottle, I needed sleep. I'm surprised I stayed up that long. Her one feed during my short 4 hour sleep, the nurse fed her through her tube because she couldn't be bothered to try and feed her through the bottle.. so to say the least, I was back at stage one.”
“I was, and am, resolute in my decision to never have children, I know other people seeking reproductive care have experienced far more overt attempts at manipulation, but from this experience, I am still more guarded and defiant with health care providers.”
“This was the first time I was mistreated in emerge when presenting with a women's health issue... so honestly I don't know why I expected anything different. My experience caused me to not seek medical attention with my second miscarriage and I chose to do the third one at home with the help of medication. We are pregnant again and planning a home birth, I am terrified we may end up in hospital as it is the last thing I would want.”
“No doctors came to check on me while I was recovering after surgery, I was in lots of pain that did not feel normal. I told nurses but they ignored me. I asked for pain meds and 8 hours later they brought me Tylenol! They also discharged me at 8pm with out being checked over or seen! I went and stayed as long as I could with her in the NICU after being discharged and I even started to pump and bring her milk.”
“At one point I had bled through an entire pair of their maternity underwear - I'm talking no white left on them - and I sat in a puddle of my own blood. When I asked if I could have another pair to clean up, she told me I could go rinse mine in the sink and put them back on."
“I asked for a picture from the ultrasound. He crumpled it up and tossed it away telling me I didn't need it, that it was a picture of nothing anyways. My baby's heartbeat stopped the next day and I lost it, leaving me with not so much as an ultrasound picture to hold onto.”
“The next day I went for the ultrasound. The tech wouldn’t tell me anything. They had me wait for almost two hours for the result, sitting in the ER anxiously waiting among sick people. Finally the doctor called me in. She jumped up on the exam bed and nonchalantly said, “You had a miscarriage” - just matter of fact with no feeling. She then began talking to me about it but kept using the word abortion, “You had your abortion yesterday."
“After a year of trying I was sent to ONE Fertility. They gave us the options and we wanted a baby right away so we went straight to IVF. When I was having ultrasounds, they would always hesitate on my left ovary but they told me I was completely fine and that my husband's sperm was not great. I had three failed cycles, one fresh and two frozen, and nothing happened. I was shocked. “
“As soon as I had my first exam with [a different doctor], he told me I had endometriosis as my uterine ligaments were painful and it was a clear sign. I went on to have stage 4 endometriosis with large endometriomas on my left ovary.“