I’m a mother to a beautiful little girl, but before that, I was a midwife. I returned to work as a midwife due to financial reasons when my daughter was 4 month old and I was in the midst of PTSD and PND. It was a living nightmare for months.
My pregnancy was filled with anxiety due to knowing what to expect and seeing new life and mothers every day. When I was diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes and knew I was looking at induction so I came up with the largest birth plan I think I have ever seen. It was to cover everything. All the possibilities that could happen during labour and birth.
I have a history of sexual abuse as a child and was raped as a teenager which was another huge reason for it as I wanted control and most importantly no drugs. I had long since dealt with all of this and didn’t anticipate it would be much of an issue though.
I had a wonderful private midwife for continuity of care and some privacy as I was giving birth where I work.
My induction started off very straight forward after a dose of gel and I was in early labour. It was 10 hours after this I was taken back to birth suite. I was looked after by colleagues on shift. I declined to have my waters broken however I was persuaded by the midwife it would get things more established. I knew I didn’t need it and said no. However, you are so open to persuasion when in labour so for some reason, I eventually agreed and was offered some gas when my plan clearly said to not offer me anything. I, of course, took it as I was in the altered labour mind.
It was this moment that defined my labour and caused my PTSD and contributed to my postnatal depression. I remember being in incredible amounts of pain before blacking out and having a flashback of my rape. When I came around I was yelling “Get out!” and trying to push people away. My husband was next to me in tears clutching me. I was 3cm when this happened and my labour went from a lovely 3/10 to a 10/10.
I had to stand up and get in the shower. They then called in my private midwife. I had lost control and it took everything I had to regain it back somewhat, but I never got my calm rhythm back that I had before. My midwife arriving made me feel safe again. Less than a few hours later my little girl was here and I was in shock. I looked at her and didn’t believe it all. I ended up having a PPH and a big tear which I then was separated from her for nearly 6 hours. No communication from staff whatsoever unfortunately and my husband and I were distraught. I got home and the wheels fell off. Weeks of tears and high emotions from myself and my husband. Who still to this day does not want to relive it. My private midwife was amazing and I don’t know what I’d have done without the 6 weeks care and follow up.
Years later and I still have to see a psychologist and still struggle working in birth suite since her birth. Coersion, persuading women for vaginal exams, epidurals, offering morphine, gas, suggesting to break waters etc is an everyday occurrence. I recently got told off for not doing a vaginal exam after a woman declined as I was ‘letting’ her push.
It is hard working among staff who think they are woman centred and who clearly don’t see what I and many others do. I get asked every day when we are having another child and I am nowhere near ready to go back again and it saddens and scares me that my daughter could be an only child.
I recently spoke to the other midwife involved in my daughters birth and she apologised and said I didn’t need that ARM after all but felt pressured by the team leader as they were busy.
What kind of culture is this? Some days I don’t want to be a midwife anymore. I spent several years studying to be one and it saddens me that I see birth trauma every day and I try my hardest to not be a part of it and to try change someone’s experience for the better.
Midwives need better training and awareness on prevention of PTSD and caring for sexual assault victims. 1 in 4 women have had it happen to them and in a time where women are vulnerable and exposed, high-quality care that is women centred must be a priority! Not following policies and time restraints. Enough is Enough.