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libspero

Labour Ward Concerns

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Last night we went to see the labour ward at our local hospital as part of the pre-natal courses you are encouraged to participate in.

This is not intended to be a rant, so I will overlook the £3 for a half hour's parking and the fact that we were told the wrong starting time.

We accosted a very friendly midwife who looked absolutely knackered and told us she had just finished a 14 hour shift but happily directed us towards where we needed to be. After being then told there wasn't a tour running that evening, it suddenly appeared around the corner.

We were welcomed to join it by another friendly midwife who also looked very tired and later mentioned that she too was just finishing a 12-14 hour shift (can't remember which). In the end we didn't actually get a chance to see a delivery room because they were all in use.

So..

My concern is that all of the staff seemed to be pulling very long shifts. They all looked visibly tired. They didn't seem fully aware of what was going on around then (ie, there was a tour going on in their department) and that on the one random time we went, the facilities were already maxed out to capacity.

This is no complaint about the staff themselves who were all helpful and friendly. It didn't really fill us with confidence that it was a good / safe environment for medical treatment (in the unfortunate event that it should be required).

Has anyone else had a similar experience / concerns?

Am I over reacting?

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You're right to be concerned, it doesn't sound good. Tiredness does cause errors. But this kind of shift pattern is all too common too, I imagine, and so no reason to be particularly fearful either.

Is this a midwife-led unit? If so, is it on the same site as the doctor-led maternity unit? Midwives are great, but they only typically do 'normal' and very low-risk labours. If there's ever any doubt at any stage that something isn't normal then they call in the doctors to examine and advise.

I would simply advise you to be vigilant and try to pay attention to everything that is going on, so that you are in a position to ask them if ever you think they might have missed or forgotten to do something, or are doing something they shouldn't be. Unlikely, but it does happen.

Ask them what happens if they are full on the day, there must be some kind of backup to cover this eventuality, and hopefully it doesn't mean a long journey in an ambulance!

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Ours was extremely busy and seemed to be pretty much at capacity for the birth of both my sons. The wife had wanted a water birth, but there were no pools available either time. One of my sons had to go up to neo-natal intensive care (NICU) immediately after birth, which was full, so he spent two days in the trolley. It looked a bit wrong, but made no difference to him in reality.

However, staff in those departments usually love their job and are the nicest, most motivated people in the hospital which more than makes up for any inadequacies. Going private may be better resourced provided everything goes smoothly, but the private hospitals generally don't have any/as good NICU facilities.

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Ask them what happens if they are full on the day, there must be some kind of backup to cover this eventuality, and hopefully it doesn't mean a long journey in an ambulance!

I did ask.. apparently you get redirected to another hospital if they can't make space available. Possibly in an ambulance if it's an emergency, otherwise if you're not too far along I presume they just tell you to drive there. Nearest alternative would probably be about 18 miles away from the hospital in question.

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Is this a midwife-led unit? If so, is it on the same site as the doctor-led maternity unit? Midwives are great, but they only typically do 'normal' and very low-risk labours. If there's ever any doubt at any stage that something isn't normal then they call in the doctors to examine and advise.

Yep.. seemed to be.

I didn't actually see a doctor while I was there.

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No one can control when the baby will come, but I strongly suggest that if at all possible you try and be there between 07.00 and 18.00 Monday to Friday. Outside of those hours the amount of staff on site drops dramatically and labour wards are left under the control of midwives and a skeleton staff of junior doctors. In the event of an emergency they phone in on call Senior Doctors.

I found all this out when my unborn child's heartbeat started showing irregularities after 12hrs of labour and the only Doctor on site was already assisting the delivery of a breach baby. By the time anyone capable arrived and they performed a caeserean my son had died. He was a perfectly healthy baby two hours earlier and if they'd had more people on site I would have a 9 year old son today.

This was in the largest maternity hospital in Scotland.

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That's horrific robmcc.
:(



My own experience of the tour was it seemed very empty and quiet.
On the day itself all I heard was me screaming. Afterwards they told me the gas and air had run out and I'd been sucking on an empty tube for the important bit. There hadn't been enough staff to go and fetch a new bottle.

Aren't they encouraging home births these days even for first timers?

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I did ask.. apparently you get redirected to another hospital if they can't make space available. Possibly in an ambulance if it's an emergency, otherwise if you're not too far along I presume they just tell you to drive there. Nearest alternative would probably be about 18 miles away from the hospital in question.

Happened with my first one. Despite asking about this very situation at the antenatal classes we were assured it practically never happens. Needless to say, upon calling them at 5am one morning they were closed to admissions and sent us on our merry way to a hospital I'd never been to before and I had no idea where it was.

Don't worry, if you think it's bad now, wait till you see the shit that passes for food in these places. Add to that the prospect of sharing a ward with people with large families and a penchant for strong smelling takeaways.

Good luck!

Don't get me started on antenatal appointments. Their timekeeping was so bad, I'm sure they should have not bothered and just said turn up on the day, we'll see you when we can. It couldn't have been worse.

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Rob, you have my thoughts - that's a terrible series of events and a dreadful outcome.

My own (well, Mrs JTB's) experience of NHS was entirely positive (and 17 years ago). She'd "booked in" for the local hospital. But when the moment came (I was in the pub) she changed her mind and demanded that we turn up unannounced to the local "maternity hospital" (a v small outfit that's since closed). Being a strong minded woman - nay, a strong minded woman in the throes of labour - there was no arguing with her!

The maternity place tutted a bit but sorted it all out and within a couple of hours of arriving delivered a baby. Getting to the hospital would have been a bit of close run thing.

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Don't worry, if you think it's bad now, wait till you see the shit that passes for food in these places. Add to that the prospect of sharing a ward with people with large families and a penchant for strong smelling takeaways.

Good luck!

Don't get me started on antenatal appointments. Their timekeeping was so bad, I'm sure they should have not bothered and just said turn up on the day, we'll see you when we can. It couldn't have been worse.

Funnily enough one of the people on the tour was asking if it was ok to bring their own food because they had heard the hospital food was shocking.

Antenatal classes.. We had the same experience. For the first one we were told to go home when the midwife didn't show up after 45 minutes. Us and the other 30 people. Personally I thought I'd got off lightly..

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