“Everybody in the medical community acts like a c-section is no big deal and is this easy breezy thing. For me, not a single day has gone by that I am not in pain. At my incision site, it feels like a knife point is pressing in. On days I exercise, the knife digs deeper. Other days it lets up but is never less than a 4 out of 10. There are certain types of pants I can't wear anymore. I get debilitating back pain that wraps around directly to my scar. My hips tighten with shooting pain directly to my scar. During my period, the pain is unbearable. Before I was pregnant, I was running 10-15 km. I still ran 5km until I was 20 weeks pregnant. Now, I can't run 1km without the knife blade digging in. I run anyway but it's definitely more challenging pushing myself through the pain. I've gone to physio and done the exercises, stretches, dry needling, scar tissue massage and nothing has been able to offer any kind of relief so I carry on and just deal with it. I would like to have another child but the thought is terrifying. What if they don't believe me again and I get to feel the doctor slicing and pulling? If I do have another, I will try to get a midwife although the waiting lists are long. If I'm to be stuck with a doctor again, I've decided against all interventions. No cervical checks, membrane sweep, induction, labour augmentation or epidural.”
"I cannot rationalize the way I was treated, and as a health care provider myself it just erodes me to know this goes on day in and day out.
I had a sexual abuse history, but I find it absolutely absurd that you have to share that with people, just to get treated with more empathetic care in Obstetrics. All women should be assumed to have a trauma history given the statistics. And all women should be treated with empathy and compassion regardless of their abuse history. Also sorry, not sorry, not going to share that with someone just because you’re a health care provider, it's called building a therapeutic relationship. If you are asking me whether I've been sexually abused as a checklist, just like when my last menstrual period was, you probably aren't going to get an honest answer. I have been through significant gynaecological issues prior to childbirth and never felt traumatized by any procedure, despite my abuse history.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
"They tried getting me to push for 3 hours without any success of my son coming out (this is after 20 hours of labour - remember, no food, no sleep). I begged and begged to see the doctor. They sent in a resident named Ramona wearing a blanket as a cape because she was cold"
"When I finally went into labour, there was meconium present in my amniotic fluid. At that time I had agreed on a family doctor delivering my daughter, not an OB/GYN like I should've in the first place. He was late showing up and looked worn-out and disheveled in appearance."
"This experience terrified me and has caused Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I have another son now who was born January 2017, and I was terrified and apprehensive the entire pregnancy. The anxiety I experienced and the staff not validating my fears or feelings was incredibly damaging. It took months for me to heal afterwards and I had to receive homecare for my incision."
"We found out before her first birthday that she has cerebral palsy, epilepsy and also has a unilateral hearing loss that has progressed to profound (meaning that her ear doesn't work at all, even with a hearing aid) I cant help but think that this was caused by her delivery. No one is willing to say that though."
"At this point, I had no energy to push. They were going to give me a C-section, but then insisted on vaginal birth. I could not even push properly, I had nurses complaining to me that I didn't know how to push properly and my baby ended up getting stuck. They needed to do an episiotomy and use the forceps to get him out."
"The nurse gave me an internal exam which confirmed the location of the baby. A doctor then gave me the same exam to reconfirm the location of the baby. Then, a third doctor gave me the same exam yet again, this time without requesting my consent. She was examining me for what seemed like a long time, even joking around with her colleagues while inside of me. I was getting more and more anxious, knowing that this was increasing the risk of infection."
"The nurse instructed a student to check me and I shook my head no a bunch of times but they checked me anyway. [...] This nurse was doing almost everything I asked not to be done. It felt like she was offended by my choice to have a birth plan. [...] As that student checked me I felt myself give in and surrender control. I felt so defeated."
"It's been nearly nine years since the birth of my daughter, and although I've moved on from the birth experience I had, listening to the traumatic birth stories of others has made me want to share my own. I really hope that doctors and hospitals end up reading these stories to improve the care that they give to women giving birth in the future."
"I say that my child's birthday is also the anniversary of the worst day of my life. I am very sad that it is how I feel.
I gave lots of feedback and they responded well and seemed to want to improve. The anesthesiologist is the only one who really didn't seem to understand the negative impact he had and kept trying to deflect blame."
"I woke up from my c-section to be told that I had a boy. They would not answer me as to where he was or if he was okay. I asked at least 3 times. It wasn't until I asked if he was alive that they answered that he was okay"
"My records showed that the doctor had performed a cervix check prior to waking me up to announce me needing a c-section. I have no memory of this cervix check. I was asleep, He apparently requested consent from me while I was asleep."
"At the hospital, I felt like I was made to feel little, like I couldn't possibly know what's right for me. As though I don't know my own body. I felt like these people have ego issues and they can't trust their patients and nature. I feel like I was raped and violated. I felt disgusted that women go through this regularly and perhaps don't speak up. Disgusted that this may be the norm."