I was doing a clinical placement on labour and delivery with a nurse as a student midwife. I was at a birth with a young first time mom who was pushing. Myself, the labour and delivery nurse and a neonatal nurse were present, along with the patient’s mother and mother-in-law. The OB got multiple pages while mom was pushing, and appeared frustrated baby hadn’t been born yet and wanted to get out of there (the fetal heart rate was completely normal throughout). Before the head had been fully born, the OB inserted both her hands into moms vagina and started forcefully pulling on the baby’s head. There were no obvious signs of shoulder dystocia, although the OB didn’t give the baby a chance to restitute on its own. Everyone in the room was silent and wide eyed at what was happening. The OB was pulling so hard on the baby’s head, she even put one foot up on the bed to give her leverage. The l&d nurse asked the OB if she would like the team called for shoulders, and for the bed to be put flat and to apply fundal pressure. The OB very clearly said no. The yanking continued. I witnessed none of the usual methods of resolving a shoulder dystocia. I truly thought the baby’s head was going to be ripped off she was pulling so hard. I recall making eye contact with the mother-in-law who was white-faced and clearly traumatized by what was happening. Once the baby was born, it required about a minute of PPV. The OB quickly delivered the placenta, checked for lacerations (there was somehow none) and left the delivery room as quickly as possible without saying a word to anyone. The neo nurse remarked “that baby has palsy” as she left the room. As I was doing my newborn assessment, it was clear baby had absolutely no tone in the affected arm and was not able to move it at all. Once I had stepped out of the room with my buddy nurse, she told me she nearly stepped in and grabbed the hands of the OB and has never been so horrified by what she had seen. We both cried. The next day, we went to visit the mom and her baby on postpartum where baby had its arm immobilized. There was no fracture and it was likely a brachial plexus injury - hopefully healed quickly by time and some physiotherapy.
Unfortunately, that would not seem to be the case. I saw mom and baby over a year later (small city and her face is burned into my memories). Baby was in large arm/body cast on the affected side. My heart sank. I haven’t been able to get that birth or that baby out of my mind and think about them almost every day.
Submitted by: Anonymous now midwife who will never again remain silent when she witnesses mistreatment