How I discovered that giving birth is a precarious business

Share
Related Topics

I thought I was prepared for the birth of my first child in April last year at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge. But the labour was difficult and I had an emergency caesarean.

I thought I was prepared for the birth of my first child in April last year at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge. But the labour was difficult and I had an emergency caesarean.

At the time I thanked the hospital for saving my son's life. I am still grateful for that but now I also suspect the hospital may have helped create the crisis. My views changed after I investigated the state of our maternity services for a forthcoming Channel 4 current affairs programme.

I proposed the idea after talking to a close friend who is a highly experienced and well-trained midwife but who is leaving the service as she can't cope with the stresses of an under-resourced and over-medicalised system. She felt she was regularly seeing lives placed at what she believed was unacceptable risk.

After talking to top midwives, obstetricians and childbirth organisations I realised that staff shortages were linked to other factors, such as increased medical interventions, the rise in caesareans, and, in the worst scenarios, cases where babies had had some degree of oxygen deprivation. Poor birth experience was in turn linked to women suffering profound birth trauma, and these cases are believed to be on the increase.

Meanwhile the public and, most worryingly, expectant mothers, remained largely ignorant of the cracks in the system. But what really made me look at my own birth experience again was the distressing news that a friend had lost her baby son after a labour that was remarkably similar to my own, but at a different hospital. It was brought home to me that my suppressed fear that my son's birth had been precarious might be closer to the mark than I thought.

I spent all of my labour in hospital; after 15 hours they thought I had been "going a bit long" and my alarmingly young midwife went off to consult the registrar and returned with the recommendation I should be hooked up to a hormone drip. She did not suggest I walk around to see if that strengthened contractions (which often works) and she did not tell me that the hormone drip can adversely affect the baby.

I wonder why the midwife in charge did not tell me of the risks that are associated with the hormone drip. I now find that, time and time again, women who talk about traumatic births and feeling "out of control" cite very similar circumstances to those of mine.

'30 Minutes: The Truth About Childbirth', Channel 4, 6pm, Saturday 29 January

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Riyadh is setting itself up as region’s policeman

Lina Khatib
Ed Miliband and David Cameron  

Cameron and Miliband should have faith in their bolder policies

Ian Birrell
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing