Newest Review: ... co-codamol, I wasn't keen because they made me sick, but she couldn't give me anything other than that or take me into hospital and give m... more
A tale of two hospital births
Member Name: jo1976
Date: 06/07/09, updated on 29/03/12 (978 review reads)
Advantages: Experienced medical staff there to help you deliver your baby
Disadvantages: The aftercare wasn't brilliant first time around
Even though I was quite heavily pregnant, I decided to explore my options and went on an organised ante-natal visit to North Staffs and then contacted Macclesfield Hospital and was shown around their ante-natal (and post-natal) facilities on an individual basis. (Both hospitals are roughly the same distance from my home.) North Staffs hospital has a good reputation in some respects. It is, for example, widely recognised as a centre of excellence for premature babies and babies needing incubators are often transferred to there from neighbouring hospitals. For 'normal' deliveries they have a Midwife-based suite and a more medicalised suite if there are any complications. During the visit, I found the whole maternity hospital to be quite daunting. It was very big, very busy and the midwives seemed to be dealing with lots of women in labour at the same time. I was also put off by the discovery that they move you from room to room, according to what stage of labour you are in and, if you needed to be induced, you are placed on an open ward and your partner is not allowed to stay, until things 'start happening.' (I think many hospitals operate similar policies, so it is something worth finding out beforehand.)
Macclesfield Maternity unit was much smaller and seemed a lot more manageable and friendlier. I was swayed by the fact that you remained in the same labour room throughout labour and delivery and weren't carted across the hospital in the throes of labour! Having made by mind up that I wanted to transfer to a different hospital quite late in the day, I had to see my GP to arrange this and the whole process took a few weeks. To be honest, I was getting a bit anxious as I was heavily pregnant by that time and I was worried that I wouldn't be on the books for any of the hospitals if I went into labour early!
Luckily, my transfer was completed in plenty of time and I was able to give birth at Macclesfield Hospital. The actual birth went 'normally' - hours of pain, a bit of gas and air and a dose of pethidine - all administered with my full agreement and involvement. The midwives were all excellent throughout my delivery and I did see quite a few of them as my labour ran over three different shifts in total! I had completed a birth plan before the birth but I think that a lot of that just goes out of the window once you are experiencing labour for real. The important thing is that you aware of all of the options beforehand so that you can make informed decisions when you need to (as much as you can when you are in considerable pain!)
After the birth, I was planning on staying in the hospital just a night or so, which seems to be common practice at most hospitals nowadays (unless you have a caesarian section or you/baby have complications.) I ended up staying in the hospital for three nights (including the night I was labouring as I gave birth at 12:04am.) This was not through choice - my oldest was quite a small baby and didn't take very well to breastfeeding so I ended up staying much longer than expected trying to get feeding properly established. This is where the hospital fell short of the mark for me, as the post-natal care did not meet the high standard of the labour room. I was in floods of tears, faced with totally contradictory advice from different workers on the ward and some of them were particularly unsympathetic when I was obviously upset. Bearing in mind that my oldest is almost seven, I can still clearly remember one midwife picking him up by his vest while he was fast asleep and shoving him at my naked breast. Needless to say, he ended up crying hysterically and so did I! The midwife then said 'If you think you feel bad now, just wait until your hormones kick in tomorrow!' Very helpful! I was so glad when I finally left hospital.
I think it was the negative aftercare in hospital that made me consider a home birth for baby number two, almost five years later. My husband was not so keen on the idea and persuaded me to have a hospital birth, just in case there were any complications. I had again booked in to North Staffs initially (as it was easier for me to attend antenatal scans there) and, by the time we had decided against a home birth, it was too late in the day to transfer to Macclesfield so I gave birth to baby number two at North Staffs.
My contractions started in the early hours of the morning (07/07/07 - what a great date of birth) and went on regularly throughout the day. We left it as late as we dared to get to hospital. After about an hour, the midwifes were just about to set up the gas and air when my waters broke really quickly and I was at the pushing stage. Much to my horror - I was then told that it was too late for any pain relief and I had to go through the whole birth without so much as a sniff of gas and air! The advantage was that I wasn't forced to move from room to room and stayed in the same labour room throughout the entire labour. In fact, the maternity ward was so busy that I even stayed in the room after the birth and never needed to go onto the postnatal ward at all. In spite of the busy atmosphere, I didn't feel neglected at all at any point during the labour and I always had access to a midwife when I needed to.
The pushing stage was horrendous and my youngest popped out all in one go in the end. (Head and body all came out together. The head usually comes out first and you need another push for the rest of the body.) He practically shot across the bed like a champagne cork! I think that's why I tore quite badly and ended up being stitched up for nearly two hours! The worst moment was probably when I asked the midwife if she had nearly finished (as I had bad cramp in my legs and I was shivering still covered in all the mess from the labour) and she announced that the tear was much deeper than she thought and would have to take the stitches out and start again! I thought she was knitting a baby blanket for me - she was down there so long!
Thankfully, breastfeeding second time around was a breeze and baby and I were allowed home within hours of the delivery. Thankfully, I didn't need to experience too much aftercare that time, although it does mean that I can't do a fair comparison of the two hospitals. Anyway, it all fades into irrelevance the second you get home with your healthy little bundle of joy and I am just grateful that both my boys were safely delivered into the world! I just can't believe that my youngest will be two tomorrow! It only seems like yesterday...
Summary: Worth every second!