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Why I'm too scared to have another baby

Date: 14 May, 2016
Tags: c-section, caesarean section, childbirth, labour, pregnancy, newborn, motherhood

*I don’t tend to write many serious posts. This is one of them. It’s not a short read so you might want to grab a drink and stick your feet up.*

Even after 3 years, this is still very raw.

I can feel my chest shuddering as my body is instinctively trying to stay calm and in control. I am sweating. My head is spinning and wondering why the heck I am letting myself think about what happened... but maybe this is what I need to do.

Right away I should tell you that this is not another birth gone wrong story. This is my experience of the postnatal ward. My own personal nightmare.

Little Button’s birth was by c-section. Without it, I was told that she could die. At the time, these chilling words were enough to have me briefly forget my paralysing fear of surgery and instead eager and impatient to sign the consent form for the go-ahead. Who wouldn’t!?

I am telling you this because, as it turns out, the act of having a c-section played centre stage to my mistreatment by the postnatal ward staff. I just didn’t realise this at the time.

It’s just a room

Blissed out by the sight of a much alive and kicking Little Button, I was wheeled up to the postnatal ward to recover. On arrival I was met with icy glares from the staff and was promptly plonked on my trolley in the middle of a corridor whilst they argued over where to put me. I remember thinking how weird is this! I don’t know why, but I thought that I would have been greeted by smiles, congratulations and tea and toast. Isn’t that what happens on One Born Every Minute?

After what seemed like an eternity, the most senior looking midwife begrudgingly sneered through her teeth that it was my lucky day and that I could have a private room because everywhere else was full. Ha! You mean the private rooms especially reserved for recovering c-section mummies… which is me. I raised my eyebrows at Mr Button, but he shrugged it off making excuses for their behaviour and putting it down to them being busy.

Leave now

We had a laugh at the private room which they seemed so protective over, it looked more like an old fashioned prison cell. Lovely and oh so inspiring when you have just had a baby…not!

I was, however, grateful that they seemed to be leaving me alone, as I hardly wanted sour faces ruining our first family moments. Except, after a while I started to notice an increase in pain creeping over me… normal right? Most ladies post-section will refer to the pain as ‘being hit by a bus’. But give or take a few hours later and I felt like I was dying, the pain was unlike anything I had ever felt… again possibly normal. But agony took hold so strongly, that quite franky I was on the very edge of losing the plot. Then in popped a sour faced midwife who, without saying a word gave me something for the pain (I presumed) and then scarpered off after promptly telling Mr Button he had to leave, as apparently all the post-birth ladies needed peace and quiet.

Great. Not only was I in complete agony still and couldn’t physically get up on my own accord to look after Little Button, but the midwife’s who (I thought) were meant to be helping me in a gentle and caring way had the right hump with me for some reason. This was going to be a long night!

I pleaded with Mr Button to hide under the bed or something and not to leave me, but even as he tried to loiter behind, he was met with daggers and a cross ‘leave now’. He insisted that I shouldn’t worry and would be there all night by phone.

I was worried though.

I wasn’t JUST worried, I was petrified. Of the pain, the inability to get up and the scary midwives who seemed to have it in for me.

Don’t ask for help

Things got incredibly worse quite quickly from there. Little Button was crying and of course I couldn’t get up to see to her. I hauled with all my might on the bed barriers, but I just couldn’t make myself work. On pressing the ‘help button’ I was yelled at… ‘what do YOU WANT!’ the midwife shrieked  and what’s the word… kissed her teeth at me (I think?).

She gently picked up Little Button from what I could see, but then roughly plopped her on top of my c-section scar laughing and headed out. The agony I was feeling was only slightly masked by the pain killers I had been given earlier, so this was enough to send uncontrollable volts through my body and bring me to tears in a second. She came back. Oh, she didn’t realise what she had just done and was going to help me. NO, no, no. Instead, she grinned and took the help button out of my reach.

That first night was the longest night I have ever had in my entire life. I couldn’t sleep. I held Little Button tight and cried, wishing that I could disappear and as each second went by, the pain got stronger. At some point much later another midwife came in, looked at me clutching onto Little Button and tutted, then gave me pain relief. Again, no conversation. I asked her if she would put Little Button back in her cot and to be fair she did and very carefully. Though not a kind word to be heard.

Partying midwives

I would hazard a guess that sometime way after midnight a party started, right next door to my room. There was music, high pitched squealing and a constant chatter. Yes… this was exactly the peace and quiet I needed. I called Mr Button and begged for him to come bust me out and that they wouldn’t even notice that I had gone because they were having a party. He wouldn’t, worried that I had only just had major surgery, so instead he promised to be there first thing in the morning and would stand outside the postnatal ward door until he was let in.

I said NO

I had barely slept a wink so was pleased to see a different face come in to see me in the morning. Not a midwife, but a different member of staff. Hello!  I winced through screwed up eyes, hoping that finally I would see a friendly face. But no. Instead I got barked at… ‘GET changed!’.  So I replied with a firm but polite no thank you. Given that I still couldn’t fully move, I had wanted to wait until Mr Button arrived for a hand in getting changed.

Obviously this had been the wrong thing to say. Protesting politely at the top of my voice, she threw the covers off me and dragged me feet first down the bed until I was completely flat on my back. In upturned beetle style so I couldn’t move I presume. I shouted for her to leave me alone. Silence. She then somehow (with possible magician skills) stripped me of my clothes. Good god!

Pleading for her to stop she then somehow managed to put a nightie back on me and then left. I am not one for letting it all hang out, so this, in addition to her ignoring my wishes has greatly tortured me for the last 3 years.

Pain relief errors (deliberate?)

By the time Mr Button got in to see me, the pain was unbearable again, I was lost to it. He managed to get a consultant to see me, it was one of the surgical team. It was quickly uncovered that the reason I couldn’t manage the pain was because I wasn’t being given my pain relief at the right time by the postnatal ward staff. So there were huge stretches where I had nothing in my system, naturally I wouldn’t be able to manage.

There was a meeting, a telling off and the surgical team had said to call them if needed again. Really? I mean… really? All this time I was in uncontrollable agony because they were not giving me pain relief on time.

Thank goodness for the junior

A change in rotation meant that I was assigned a junior to look after me. I cried… with relief this time. Someone who actually noticed I was there and who respected my wishes. She was disgusted by the treatment I had previously received and on the day I was leaving, encouraged me to leave clear feedback. I didn’t. I couldn’t wait to escape the nightmare and didn’t want to think of what had happened again. 

We thought you had chosen to have a c-section

I didn’t manage to leave without being seen by the midwife who had dropped Little Button onto my c-section incision in the middle of the night. ‘I am so sorry’ she crooned whilst trying to embrace me, 'WE thought you had chosen to have a c-section. We didn’t realise that you HAD to have one.'

Wait… what?

I didn’t stick around. But that hasn’t left me. Was it an admission of deliberately ganging up on me, hurting me, undressing me without my permission and letting me suffer… all because they thought it was my choice to have a c-section. Yes, that’s exactly what it sounded like to me.

When are you going to have another one?

I am too scared to have another baby, not that I wouldn’t love to have a sibling for Little Button, I really would. But I can’t do all that again. It might be different a second time around, but then again it might not.

Even 3 years on, driving past that hospital gives me the shivers. I know that not all postnatal wards are like this, that there are a zillion amazing midwifes out there. It was unfortunate that I was unlucky.

I am not sure why I wrote this as a blog post, it’s more like an essay. I think secretly I hope that a midwife will read this and think much more carefully about what they do when caring for someone who has just given birth, no matter how a baby happens to arrive. I hope that they will realise that what happens in the postnatal ward is just as important as in the labour ward. I hope that they realise that words and actions can stick like mud and they have the power to completely nurture or poison a family. To make someone just like me too scared to have another baby.




Join to comment



The Aloha Mummy 04 September 2016

I have goosebumps and shivers reading this, the way you have been treated is horrific and they must be held accountable. Can you make a formal complaint? This is unacceptable and I'm so sorry you have had to endure this not only as it happened but for the last 3 years. I am livid. How dare they. Could you opt for a different hospital or have a private midwife/ Doula to support you in a future birth?xxx

Alison 17 August 2016

Words fail me. I'm welling up having read this post. It is incredibly well written and although it makes for difficult reading because of your dreadful treatment, I'm sure it has helped you to share it - I'm glad that you did. Future experiences will be very different I am sure. Well done for being brave and sharing it - thank you x

Double the Monkey Business - Yvonne 12 August 2016

Oh my, I truly have no words. I am so incredibly angry for you, they had absolutely no right to treat you this way. I also suffer from birth trauma and I know how hard these posts are to do. I hope you find your way through this. It is never too late to make a complaint, if you ever feel you need to in the future. Sending hugs xxx

Carol Cameleon 05 July 2016

I'm absolutely fuming from reading your post. Not least because of your treatment (which is absolutely and completely inescusable) but also your observations on sections. We've chosen not to have another because of my complicated pregnancy and pre-e and hellp syndrome in labour. Not at all wishing to rub it in, but my aftercare was exemplary. It's such a shame that this treatment gives the wonderful NHS such a bad name at times (one time too many). Dispicable behaviour. #brillblogposts

Petite Words 22 June 2016

Holy crumble, I cannot believe this. Your poor thing, what nasty people! Thanks so much for sharing Thai very raw story, it must have been painful to write. I hope in more time you mend, there are some amazing nurses and midwives out there xxx

Simone135 21 June 2016

Similar to my experience... i had vaginal birth very short with horrible people. Absolutely no respect for birth plan (I wanted to give birth on my knees mw didn't care and pushed me on my back and pulled baby out without contraction), whilst being stitched anaesthesiologist was talking about my vagina and how enyojable it'll be for my partner (for victim of sexual abuse really nice) and later on being called fat botch being said to shit up etc... They left me with quite a lots of damage as well (pieces of placenta left in, being stitched with bad type of stitched surgery to remove them done without anaesthesia, infection and the worst emotional pain)... I am shaking every time I'll see that hell of a hospital

Bear and cardigan 27 May 2016

What an awful experience. I agree you should report it even if you just print this and send it to the chief exec. of the hospital. I'm a nurse and this saddens me so much and should be investigated. Hugs to you

Lucie 27 May 2016

You just gave me a lightbulb moment. This is pretty much how I was treated after my C-section 19 years ago. I was also 'forgotten' when meals were served. I was abandoned mid sanitary change while still hooked to catheter and morphine - blood everywhere. My help button was ignored so I had to lift my son myself. Every time a midwife 'caught' me with my baby in bed he was removed so ten minutes later I was lifting again. I couldn't wait to get out of that hole. And I never once suspected it was C-section - mine was 'elective' on recommendation of doctor as my baby was breech bum presentation and I am very tiny build

Louise (Little Hearts, Big Love) 20 May 2016

Annette, I am absolutely horrified that you were treated in this way and the words of that midwife who took the call buzzer from you saying that she thought you had chosen to have a C-section are utterly chilling - whether you had chosen to or not, there is absolutely no excuse to have treated you this way and for you to not have had adequate pain relief is utterly appalling. As a former midwife, I'm utterly appalled by the way you were treated - it is abuse, pure and simple - especially the way you were undressed without your consent. I'm so, so sorry that this has happened to you x

Vicky - Let your light shine Mummy 18 May 2016

What a horrific ordeal for you to have gone through. It's shocking to hear that care professionals who you put your trust in could treat you in this way. You are very brave for writing this, and as you say even though its so difficult to think about and write down your thoughts and feelings, as I read it I felt like it was a huge step for you in terms of dealing with what happened. Please don't let your experience steal any future joy from you if you want another child, our experiences whilst hideous sometimes can help shape our future. You have a voice and a powerful one at that. xxx

Sinead Mitchell 17 May 2016

Trying not to vomit as I read this....... PLEASE tell me you have had psychological support to deal with this ABUSE...... good grief, I'm truly horrified. I'm a counsellor and could point you in the right direction if you've not. I'm not going to ask if you've given feedback as frankly right now YOU need all the love and support you can have. But I hope karma works it's magic along the way.... blessings beautiful mama, I hope your button lightens your pain ........No-one should EVER be treated as you were, as you know.

Ellen 17 May 2016

I have tears in my eyes. Truly horrendous treatment, cruel and abusive. I hope writing about it has helped a little. Even if you had elected to have a c section there is NO justification for treating a patient like that. They are terrible representatives of a profession which is generally caring. Thank you for being brave enough to share it.

Marmee March 17 May 2016

Oh my lovely, what an awful experience, you are brave for reliving this and sharing with us. I feel quite emotional reading this. I used to work as an advocate for people with dementia in hospitals and it appals me that this type of treatment occurs throughout hospitals when patients are disempowered and vulnerable. I would strongly encourage you to speak to PALS in the NHS trust you were treated in as I believe this should behaviour should be rooted out of our hospitals, however I understand you might not want to do this. I'm sorry this happened to you and am sending you lots of warm wishes

Mackenzie Glanville 17 May 2016

This is abuse plain and simple and is unacceptable! Make sure you get some counselling to discuss what happened to you, you need to talk to someone. I had a c-section with my last child as I had a heart condition and both Adam and I were close to death, I felt so guilty about it and it stayed with me a long time, but I was not treated in such a horrible manner, elective or emergency is irrelevant there is NO excuse for this!

Fi - Beautybabyandme 17 May 2016

This made me well up with tears. I completely understand. Although I was far better looked after than it sounds like you were, the whole emergency C Section and recovery was horrible. I've never felt so scared or helpless. Please don't let these horrible and unfeeling people scare you from having another baby. I'm so sorry you went through this. Lots of Love xx

Amber 16 May 2016

I'm turn between horror and a complete lack of surprise. Darling, I'm so sorry. What a bloody horrifying and yet likely not uncommon experience.

Jess 16 May 2016

Wow! I have just sat and cried reading this while in work...ooops! How awful for you to be treated the way you were and for them to make you feel the way you did so much so you are too scared to have another child. my experience was nothing like this but I was 18 and I too could not move and had a midwife snatch my baby from me saying to her 'you're mother can't look after you already there's no hope for you little one.' Why midwives feel the need to put down new mothers is completely beyond me! This was 7 years ago and i am yet to have another. I really hope that one day you find the strength to have another! Love to you xxx

Laura 16 May 2016

I too literally cannot believe this treatment!!! I really pray that you take this further as those midwifes should lose their jobs. It should have been the best night of your life with your newborn and not the worst. I know people who have had bad treatment in the postnatal ward and /or during labour and for the second births they have approached the hospital before whether the same one or a different one and met with the senior midwife. Having the chance to talk through everything really helped prepare for the big day and ensure any issues were made aware in the hospital. In most cases when someone in charge of the department hears of the issues they want to ensure the next time is how it should be. xxx

Georgina 15 May 2016

wow, I am literally stunned for words after reading this. You've written your story in such a way that I can really feel your pain and disappointment. What awful conditions and aftercare,plus the clothes stripping in completely insane and breeching human rights ffs! I hope you managed to get this across to them at some point as this needs to be addressed so it won't continue or happen to other mothers. Thank you for writing this, as it reminded me a lot about my own after labour care, which was horrible . After having my daughter i was left in all the after-labour mess for almost 45 minutes before daddy pig went and found someone...they had all gone all lunch and the new team had forgotten me.....WTF!

Natalie 15 May 2016

Oh lovely this made me so sad - what should of been such a special time was ruined by people who we trust to take care of us and our Child when we are at our most vulnerable. I didn't have the best aftercare with my first but nothing at all like your experience. Sending love xx

Becky, Cuddle Fairy 15 May 2016

Annette, I'm so sorry to hear about your experience! Was this in London? It sounds surreal. I'd be afraid to have another after all of that too. I hope that you send a copy to the hospital. You deserve an apology for your treatment - at the very least! It might help future women not to be treated as badly. x

Anothermummy 15 May 2016

I had an elective c-section at 37 weeks, as baby was an extended breech, the umbilical cord was failing and I was told that babies with Down Syndrome tend to die in the last two weeks of pregnancy. I felt that it wasn't an 'elective' surgery, but one that had to happen! Like you, a few comments were made about women choosing to have it. And there was a noticeable defrosting when I explained the reasons behind my 'choice'. I am very sorry for the horror that you went through though. Our aftercare experiences were completely different, but I just wanted you to know that the snobbery towards elective c-sections is completely real, and something that needs to be addressed. Again, I am so very sorry to read about your traumatic experience


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