`We had the midwife from hell...'

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The Independent Online
ANNA-MARIE COOK, 35, had been planning a home birth until she went into labour four weeks prematurely with her baby in the breech position. She arrived at her local hospital in Sussex 40 minutes after her waters had broken.

"We had the midwife from hell. She shouted at me, didn't introduce herself or explain anything.

"She did a brief internal examination and said that because it was a breech I would have an emergency Caesarean. She wasn't talking to me, she just announced it," Mrs Cook recalled.

The hospital was busy. It was a Friday night in September 1997 and there was a queue waiting for Caesareans. Mrs Cook was fourth in line and she and her husband were left for 40 minutes with a foetal monitor recording their baby's heart beat. It showed all was well, suggesting a natural delivery could have been attempted.

By the time she got to theatre, labour was so far advanced that the baby's head was stuck in the top of the birth canal. To deliver it by Caesarean, the obstetricians pushed the baby's head back up the vagina. During the Caesarean procedure, an artery was ruptured and surgeons battled to stop the bleeding for two hours. Over the next 24 hours, Mrs Cook was returned to theatre twice until the source was found. At one stage, doctors phoned her husband to say it would be touch and go whether she survived.

Later, a vascular surgeon told her that the torn artery must have been caused by the Caesarean. It was the action of pushing the baby up and out that caused the damage.

Mrs Cook, whose son, Ben, is now two, said: "A breech can be a problem for a natural birth but there was no logical reason why I shouldn't have attempted it. My own consultant said had she been called in she would have tried."