#192 | Your Hospital Anecdotes, Our Comments

December 21, 2022

If we could share every single woman's birth story on this podcast we would; but instead, today we are giving you a glimpse into a handful of hospital stories and anecdotes that represent the rhetoric, mistreatment, and disrespect that mothers experience from hospital staff, midwives, OBs and pediatricians. In this episode, you will hear such things as a mother having her call light put on the other side of the room so she couldn't bother the staff with her questions, another mother purposefully ignored when she needed to use the bathroom postpartum because she refused to give her baby sugar water, an OB telling a mom that her baby will have Cerebral Palsy if she declines a vaginal exam, and another mother getting an episiotomy without her consent, plus other examples of medical coercion and abuse. After each mother's story, you will hear Cynthia's and Trisha's comments. While we know this episode will get you fired up, we hope it will also shed light on just how rampant the problem is within today's maternity care system, with the reminder that you don't have to tolerate mistreatment. Thank you to these mother for taking the time to call us with their stories and thank you for taking the time to listen.

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View Episode Transcript

As I was pushing my baby out, the two doctors were talking to each other about their weekend plans. My doctor then proceeded to give me an episiotomy without my consent or knowledge after I told her not to do it, prenatal visits.

So the nurses continued to refer to my husband as the baby daddy, I felt that was incredibly disrespectful, given he is not a guy who nothing yet he's my husband and father of my first baby, I basically was told that if I don't force feed my baby as much formula as possible until he throws up that the jaundice may be causing him brain damage.

So the chaplain turned to me and said, we could actually commit you and just do the surgery anyway. And that's when I text my husband and I said, you need to get here now they're trying to operate without my consent.

Why? Why is it so difficult to just respect a mother's choices? Why does there have to be so much resistance? Why is there so much retaliation?

I'm Cynthia Overgard, owner of HypnoBirthing of Connecticut, childbirth advocate and postpartum support specialist. And I'm Trisha Ludwig, certified nurse midwife and international board certified lactation consultant. And this is the Down To Birth Podcast. Childbirth is something we're made to do. But how do we have our safest and most satisfying experience in today's medical culture? Let's dispel the myths and get down to birth.

We have a little something different for you all today. Because you guys are frequently sending in your birth stories, we get so many fabulous ones. And we unfortunately can't get everybody on the show. But we have compiled a series of birth stories for you here today. And we are going to share components of them with you in today's episode, we want to listen to these along with you. So we're going to play them and we're going to be commenting in between if we have if we've got anything to say about it, and in all likelihood we won't because we usually do just a few things.

Hi, ladies, I wanted to share my experience in my local hospitals, ob slash labor and delivery department. And what led me to decide to not have a hospital birth if possible. I was 21 weeks pregnant, and I started having some severe sharp pains on my side, kind of lower below my ribcage. And I started to feel like okay, this isn't this isn't normal, but I think I can breathe through it. So AB seems fine. She was moving and I felt like she was okay. My husband got home from work later that night. And the pain started to intensify to the point where I was vomiting and could barely stand the pain at this point. So we did decide to go to the ER after probably about six to seven hours. Because at this point, I just wanted to make sure that baby was okay. So we get to the ER immediately they put their hand up in front of my husband and say does she have a phone? He said yes. And they said okay, she'll call you and they wheeled me away. I had one was not allowed to be with me. Because of COVID. Mind you this was literally a couple of weeks ago, regardless of vaccination status, regardless of negative positive, simply no family members allowed. So they wheeled me away. The pain was kind of coming in waves, so they weren't really sure what was going on. I immediately told them, it's not appendicitis. I don't have a fever. I have no death pain. It's not appendicitis. It's not my ovaries. It's not my uterus. I'm telling you. It's on my side. I believe it's a kidney stone. Mind you, I've been raised by a nurse. So I know a lot of the jargon. And the nurse looked at me and said, Are you a nurse? You know too much? And I said no. But I was I was raised by one. And immediately. It's like their treatment of me just kind of shifted. I got to the hospital and they put me in a bed. They were unhappy because I was kind of telling them like No, it's not this. No, it's not this and they wanted to run a bunch of tests that I didn't consent to. Eventually the pain was getting so bad that I could barely breathe through it. And they have moved my call button to across the room on a table that I could not get to it. So having no patient advocate with me there because my husband wasn't allowed. I texted my mom and I just said I don't know what to do. I need help and I am calling for help and no one's coming. The audibly calling someone please help me. And she had told me why don't you click the call button. But I told my mom I can't reach the call button. They put it across the room. Am I Mom being a nurse of 30 plus years, also a nursing professor called the OB, labor and delivery department. And I'm not sure what she said, but basically, I'm along the lines of You need to get in there and help her if you're not going to allow her to have any patient advocate with her. And within a couple of minutes, my nurse comes back in and says, so it sounds like you're telling your mom that you're not getting adequate care. So we're going to go ahead and call her on speakerphone together, and you're going to tell her that you are receiving all the best care, and that we are doing everything we can to help you. So when you're ready, let's get on the phone. And we're going to call your mom and make sure she knows that you're getting the best care you can. And I immediately froze because I felt bullied and intimidated, and I wasn't getting the best care. And it scared me that a nurse was going to say we're going to put your mom on speaker like I'm a five year old. Mind you, I'm almost 30. And we're going to tell your mama that you're getting good care. From that point on, I kind of just shut down and I was very scared, I couldn't update my husband. They wouldn't update him for me, I asked for them to give me a form so they could update my husband and my mom. And they never brought that to me. I did not consent to any of the tests they did. Then they said it might be ovarian torsion, which it wasn't. Then they tried to stick an IV in me four different times blue for veins finally got one and then started giving you morphine, which I did not consent to. Again, if my husband had been there, he could have helped me make these decisions. Because I was just incoherent. I, all I knew was that I was in pain. And I didn't know what was going on. At one point I asked them to not give me medicine. And they said, I said I don't think that's safe for the baby. I don't want medicine. And they said You are my patient, not the fetus. We're giving you some pain meds. Eventually, I was transferred to a private room. And I asked for them to bring my husband in. And they said no, you are not allowed to have anyone with you. And I asked why. And I said that's that's our policy, I'm sorry. But I said Can he at least bring me some things because there were some items that I needed if I was going to be there for the remainder of the day. So he did bring some items to the front desk, he was not allowed to see me I was not allowed to walk out and see him. And by not allowed. I mean they specifically told me you cannot do this. Now looking back, I should have said Up yours and done it anyway. So the nurses continue to refer to my husband as the baby daddy. For example, they brought the bag of things he brought me into bed here, the Baby Daddy brought this and put it on my table. I felt that was incredibly disrespectful, given he is not some guy who talked me up. He's my husband and father of my first baby did come back, I began to get so nauseous that I knew I was going to throw up again. And so I pressed the call light asking for a bag. And the nurse was mad at me on the call light because I wasn't speaking louder. Mind you, I have been yelling and pain all day. And my voice is very hoarse. I couldn't speak up as much. She walked in talk, they trashed back at me and then shut the door. At that point, I was just feeling unsafe and uncared for, and I felt what is the point of being here if my baby's okay, and it's truly the kidney stone. The only thing they're gonna do for me is maybe give me some hydration. But I can do that on my own at home. I felt like my pain was worse at the hospital than it was just trying to go through it at home. So a chaplain came in, I did not request a chaplain came in and basically said they felt you could do someone to talk to I didn't really want to talk to a chaplain. And the OB doctor who also works with my OB came in and said, we don't really know what's wrong. We can't see a kidney stone, but it doesn't mean it hasn't already dislodged. So I'm going to do exploratory surgery, I need you to sign consent, and I just want to see what's going on inside. And I immediately I feel like I just turned ghosts twice. Because I just thought there was no way in hell, anyone's going to do exploratory surgery on me at 22 weeks, immediately asked for an AMA form and said I am leaving. I texted my husband right away and I said come get me now. Then the chaplain doctor and nurse came in altogether and basically cornered me and said, if you leave, you will kill your baby. I kid you not they told me this. If you leave, you will kill your baby. And I said how would I hurt my baby? You told me that my baby's fine. And they said, Well, if you leave I can't monitor your baby so something could happen. And I said, I've been here since pm and you have not checked on my baby since I got here. So what monitoring were you going to do that you haven't already done? And they said, Well, it's actually not our policy to monitor a fetus as long as the fetus was okay to begin with, or whatever. And basically just trying to intimidate me to stay. I said, again, I need an AMA form immediately. So the chaplain turned to me and said, you know, if you were a danger to yourself or your fetus, we could actually commit you and just do the surgery anyway. And that's when I texted my husband and I said, you need to get here now. They're trying to operate without my consent, that they're trying to commit me. So I told him, I needed a minute they walked out of the room, I immediately grabbed my things and changed. I walked out, signed my form with a nurse student who also removed my IV and blew it. I was gushing blood and they didn't hold pressure on it or anything. I had to hold it myself. When I walked past my nurse, that was my nurse for the day, she said, best of luck. And that was it. No one helped me out of the hospital. I was very dizzy. They had given me Dilaudid, which I didn't know. My personal OB was actually in the hospital and aware never came to see me. Never called me. Even though that morning, I had a scheduled checkup with her and couldn't make it because of the kidney stone. I never heard from her again. She never reached out to me checked on me tried to reschedule. I left that hospital feeling terrified. And I went home, I went home and I got some lemon water and a heat pack from my side. And I breathe through the pain. And within a few days, I was completely fine. My pain level got much better. When I was at home, my mental state was better, I felt emotionally safe. My mother in law husband were with me. I improved almost immediately upon coming home. The very next day, I met with an amazing midwife who will be helping me deliver an October unmedicated at her birthing center, it's just a beautiful place. It just made me feel immediately calm when I walked in. And I look back on this experience. Now this was probably about a month ago, was a month ago exactly, actually. And I am thankful that it happened because had I not experienced what I experienced with this kidney stone in the care that I received or lack there of this was the hospital I was delivering. And it's very clear to me that I was not going to be safe there that I was not going to be listened to. They made it clear my husband would not be able to be there at the birth or while I'm in labor. Basically any rights that I had as a patient, I realized was going to be stripped and taken away. And I was very afraid and thankful that this happens because it allowed me to see that this is not safe. And I'm went from being terrified to deliver my baby, my very first baby to being excited. And I owe that I utterly Oh my my competence and my, my teeth to this podcast because a girlfriend of mine recommended me to listen to it. And I I say new listener, I am a binge listener. I mean, I I just started binging the episodes cuz I couldn't get enough of this info and experiences and other women's stories. And I remember the other day and one of the episodes said that hospital policy does not trump your patient, right? And my heart just sunk because I felt I have no right when I walked in that door. I'm not allowed to say anything. I'm not allowed to say no, I'm not allowed to get up and leave or eat food or have water if I need it. It was just very scary to feel like I have no control over anything that happens to my body and my baby. And the moment I spoke with my midwife, I suddenly felt like this could be a beautiful experience. This could be amazing. And learning so much about what my body's capable of, I had no idea that women could do the things they could do. Because I've been conditioned to believe that not not only can we not go through childbirth, without an epidural. But that you're crazy. If you don't, you know, if you don't have medicine, if you don't have a hospital, you're just crazy. And this podcast has just completely rocked my world in the best way possible. And I'm just so thankful for everything that you ladies do and the information that you put out. As a first time mom, I'm going into this delivery in a couple months feeling informed, confident and excited. And that is a crazy thing to say because two months ago, I was terrified and wasn't sure if I could ever do this again. So thank you so much for all the work that you already do. Thanks for letting me share my story and that is why and how I will will not be delivering in a hospital now or in the future.

I don't even know where to begin with this one. There are so many things wrong in this story. What comes up for you first, what comes up for me is that we, when women are listening to this, they're like, Oh, I would have told that nurse such and such, or I would have just, I would have done this. And it's easy to assume that we would stand up like that. And we always hope and dream we would. But when you hear a story like this, it from when I hear a story like this, I understand how sexual assault happens. Because you hear about well, why why did you let your boss do that? Why did you let that family member do that? It's like, because we freeze. And when I'm listening to the story, and I'm like, I'm becoming her as I listen. And I imagine being there. I feel frozen to it's easy to easy for me to say I would stand up and say The hell with you. I'm not putting up at this. But I totally understand she's an empowered woman who froze, I think that's what often happens.

Not to mention that the as she did start to fight back, they threatened her with a psychological evaluation and surgery. A surgery completely without her consent based on insanity, basically, is what they were saying.

I don't know, I've heard such things before. But the when it was actually scary when you listen to the part where they say you're going to tell your mother and you're going to do this, like this is frightening, that people can end up in a position like that, and abuse their power like that.

I mean, in the end, she's actually lucky that she This is a bit of a blessing in disguise. She's lucky she went there and had this experience and changed her mind and changed her course of action for her birth plan. Because I'm sorry, but if they are referring to the Father as the baby daddy, this is just not okay, so rude. So I, Stephanie's the reason that we decided to create this episode, because we do have stories like this, we just figured we'd want to share and I reached out to her to let her know that and I'm happy to tell everyone that she had a wonderful home birth as planned. So there's an update that she just had a great home birth a couple of months after this happened to her.

Just reply on your Instagram story. I was 22 Whenever I had my little boy, obviously a little younger than planned. But all the same. Everything was well. We had a super rough delivery in the hospital. Now that I know more. I know why it led to that. But anyways, my offhand comment that I was calling to comment on was the lactation consultant who I never like agreed to see or anything she just literally came in and started like tugging on my boob said out of nowhere, she said, physically, you're you'll be a great success for breastfeeding. Since you're so young, like biologically, you have all the right things, you're gonna be a good success. And then she kind of like pause and she was walking out of the room. And she said, socioeconomically, you too might struggle with some other things. And then just left. And I had a one day old baby. It was bizarre. Anyways, that's my comment.

Who is this woman to judge whether or not she is going to have a difficult time or a great time with her baby socio economically?

I can't believe people even debate whether things like racism are systemic because clearly this woman judged the age of the mother who just gave birth. But what gets me it's not the judging that surprises me. Human brains are designed to judge and we we judge. And I think when we say like, don't judge don't judge. I think that's a bit of a stretch for most of us. We can choose partners in our life if we don't judge other people. So we are really designed to judge I think what's unacceptable, is to speak of the judgment to like recognize that judgment as some kind of fact rather than just an opinion, a judgment, coming from one's own bias. I just I can't believe she felt it was appropriate to say that out loud. And these are the stories that women remember forever. These become the details of a birth story over time.

Hi, my name is Liz. I'm from New Jersey and I did have a situation during my first pregnancy that brought me to the hospital and I figured I would call in and tell you guys about it. Around 28 weeks I started having it. This was my first pregnancy. So I wasn't really sure what I was feeling. But I was contracting and I was really nervous that I was going into early labor. It was super painful. And I said something isn't right. Like this doesn't feel like Braxton Hicks. So I waited. I waited to see if they would stop and the next day they were still happening. So I went over to labor and delivery. It was a weekend and they checked me out and they said that I had a lot of excess amniotic fluid so they diagnosed it as polyhydramnios and they said that what I was experienced thing is called an angry uterus. And so my uterus was contracting because of all the fluid and being so distended. But it wasn't actually making any changes to my cervix. And, of course, this being my first pregnancy, I had never heard of anybody who had experienced this before. And it happened on and off for the remainder of my third trimester. They did give me extra fluid that day in an IV, which kind of calmed everything down a little bit. And I was monitored for the rest of my third trimester to check on the baby to make sure that my fluid levels were at least staying where they were. But it was really kind of a mystery what was going on as to why my levels were so high because I didn't have gestational diabetes, and there was nothing obvious via ultrasound that they could find that the baby. However, once the baby was born right after her birth, we realize that she was diagnosed with a birth defect of her esophagus called esophageal atresia with a tracheal esophageal fistula. So what happens is the baby swallows amniotic fluid in utero, as you know, and then they pee it out. So your amniotic fluid levels are kind of on a constant filtration system in there to stay stable. But in my case, the baby was trying to swallow the fluid, but unsuccessfully so. So the fluid was really just accumulating in my belly. So now we know why. And in my second pregnancy, that was a really big marker for us to look for. And fortunately, all my fluid levels stayed stable for that pregnancy. But that was my hospital story. I did spend the night in labor and delivery and everybody was trying to figure out why my uterus was so angry. And we only figured out once baby was born at 39 plus two. So hope that was an interesting story. And I just wanted to say thank you to you guys, for all that you do. I absolutely love listening to your show.

And every morning, this poor woman woke up and wondered why the hell's my uterus, so angry?

This is these are the moments where I think would they really do this to men if I can't help I have this thought. So how many men show up to a doctor with impotence? And they're like, you have what we call a sad penis.

It's just a sad penis. It's just a sad penis.

No, no, but it's okay to say this to women, right? Incompetent failure to dot dot dot angry. It's where the word hysterical comes from right, hysteria. So wrong.

Hi, guys. So I just wanted to share my hospital birth story. It's kind of long, so I'll get started. So to start, I'm a labor and delivery nurse. And so I have dreamed about my first birth the way other woman's dream about their wedding day. I found out I was pregnant at the end of July. And I had a great first few months of pregnancy, I was sick a little bit. But other than that, it's a complaint. And then at the end of September, our hospital started mandating the COVID vaccine. And so the hospital I worked at was one of the only ones in the region that denied religious exemptions. I was able to stay at my hospital because I got a medical exemption for being pregnant. And so around that time, they fired many of my close friends, amazing nurses who had been there years, and women that I looked up to. So I was planning on delivering there, but after that, a lot of the currency nurses work on. And so I thought, and I was angry still that the hospital did that. And we're mandating the vaccine and just got rid of so many great nurses. And so I said to myself, I don't want to deliver here. I don't want to support this organization. So then I went to a birth center, and I have wonderful care there. And at my 36 week appointment, my blood pressure has started to start to go up. The midwife at my hospital said she would take me at the patient and would still let me attempt to Waterberg but I decided to do that. When I got there was two centimeters so I decided to take second bite attack. And then on my second dose, my water broke on the phone and things got really intense from there. And so I didn't have to have to talk them started. My nighttime nurse was an amazing friend and just all the things to get me my waterbirth my baby was Opie and I was involuntary pushing at six centimeters in my midwife came in the room for about 30 minutes, and then left the room. Later I found out she tried the nurse told the nurse I would need an epidural. Looking back I realized that the hospital felt like an unsafe environment. And even when I was pushing, I wasn't fully surrendering to my birth and I kept holding back because I was scared. She was finally born and I feel like I was in flight or flight mode. I think part of me thought I would have a demise from COVID And so when she was finally here I was in shock. My amazing nurse who I loved told me remember, we don't allow closely thing here. This was the first six hours of her life. And I remember thinking, of course, I want her by me, but I didn't want to be a bad patient. So I put her in the bassinet next to me. And I couldn't sleep and I just stared at her. I know that I could have said that I refuse and put her in bed with me and able to actually close my eyes. But I didn't want to do that with her comment. And then I wanted an early discharge, and the pediatrician won't let me go because she hadn't pooped. These two things still bother me. Because instead of saying no, and saying, refusing, and just going home, like I wanted to do and get some sleep, I stayed. I'm a nurse in the system that knows how things works. And I still feel like I can advocate for myself. I wonder how many women feel like they can't advocate for themselves. I was in an environment where I knew the people, and I still couldn't. Anyways, thanks for letting me share my stories with you guys. And thank you for everything you do.

Well, in some ways, I think honestly, the fact that she knew people in the hospital, actually probably made it harder to advocate for herself. I mean, because you feel not only It's hard enough to be judged by strangers, but to be judged by colleagues or people, you know, you know, if you want to buck the system a little bit, it feels like the consequences are going to be even worse. Yeah, for sure. She did say that she was surprised that her baby even survived because she thought she was going to have a demise from COVID. And that just again is another example of how we have the fear mongering that goes on in the way we speak to people that she she actually was surprised that her baby was alive at the end of all this.

Hi, I'm calling about my pregnancy hospital story. I went a few times during pregnancy, for like lack of fetal movement. But one notable time I went was actually when I thought I was leaking amniotic fluid. I was 39 weeks pregnant. And my midwife had done several tests, but it was every single one was inconclusive. So they do a spec test on me. And it's a male OB. And I have literally just had a second set by my midwife. And it was uncomfortable, but not too bad. This was so incredibly painful, and honestly a little bit traumatic, because he just shoved it in there. No warning, not slowly at all. I just ended up yelling and screaming out and yelling, that hurts. That hurts. And asking him to stop. And you know, he just went, I know, I know. And the nurse kind of like held my hand and he did the spec test. And like by the time he was done whatever it was over, but I just remember feeling so mishandled by the male OB and very disrespected, because that's such an intimate place. So why wouldn't you just be a little bit more gentle. But it was just probably one of the worst experiences of just knowing that he did not care whether he was hurting me. So that's my starting.

Okay, so the correct response when somebody is uncomfortable, is to stop and say, I'm sorry, not I know, I know, I know and keep going.

And the nurses job is there to just Squeeze and hold the hand, which is that uncomfortable feeling of the nurse just supporting whatever the doctor is doing and probably not having much of a voice herself to do anything else about it. I think about nurses in this role a lot because they did. I once watched a documentary on planes and like plane crashes. And there was a culture just an almost an unspoken culture between pilots and their CO pilots in which co pilots didn't challenge pilots. And there was one particular plane crash, were the copilot. They could hear the copilot understood what was happening, and there wasn't good communication between them. And they completely changed the way they trained both of them both roles, and, and made flying exponentially safer as a result. And that's what I think about in these instances, just this culture of doctors, like the nurses not wanting to upset the doctor and then we pick up on that message as well, that we have to be good patients for them rather than they have to be good providers to us.

How many times out there has a patient actually known that something was wrong for them, but they weren't able to speak up for themselves and something terrible happened because of it. And that is exactly what Cynthia is describing that culture not only just between doctors and nurses, but but even more importantly, between patients and their care providers.

Hey ladies, this is Lauren mclees. I'm calling to tell you briefly about an interaction I had in the hospital setting while 25 weeks pregnant. My husband and I have four in our car in a grocery store parking lot. And we were in a very minor car accident. It actually was a hit and run. My husband really wanted me to be looked at the hospital just in case because I did have some bruising from my seatbelt. So I was taken to the emergency room for, as we love to say, you know, routine monitoring. And they told me I would be there for about four hours, which turned into a 20 hour stay and admitted. They admitted me after the OB on call came by, and didn't wanted to do an ultrasound to check baby which we are okay with. And then she also wanted to do a cervical exam, which I did not know any better. I didn't know that I could say no. So I did consent to a cervical exam at 25 weeks. Unfortunately, it was extremely painful. And I ended up bleeding very heavily for several hours. We went through for fully soaked trackpads in just over an hour, so they did keep me overnight. For observation since I've had such heavy bleeding. They ended up losing my bloodwork. While I was there, the lnd nurse came in to do bloodwork, she blew my vein in my arm, and then blamed it on me. She said, Oh, you blew your vein. And my husband said, No, I don't think she did that you're holding the needle. But she came in and tried to do blood work and then lost the bloodwork. So they had to come back the next morning during pre round and redraw bloodwork. And after my labs came back clear, they did allow us to go home, baby was fine, I was fine. There was really no reason for me to have needed to stay that long, except for the cervicalcheck which I deeply regret, but you live in your learn, right? That's my story. Thank you.

soaking through for Chuck's pads did she say in an hour? Scary? Totally. That's a full on antepartum hemorrhage. I do not know what they did during that exam to cause that it almost sounds like some sort of abruption.

I liked that her husband spoke up the line about the veins would have bothered me as well not taking responsibility for that. I liked that the husband said something about it. You can't blow your own veins.

So she clearly was just putting that on the woman for no good reason.

Right? Exactly. It's like your veins are not cooperating with my needle. When I was in my last trimester of pregnancy, my midwife really freaked me out there, my blood pressure would spike in office. So I took it home and it was perfectly normal at home. But in my 38 week pregnancy visit, I refused an induction for a second time. And she said to me, Well, I hope your baby doesn't die and then walked out of the room.

That went on to lead to a whole bunch of other problems. But that was quite shocking at the time.

I just want everyone to know that this nerve to say to women, anything with the word die dying and let alone you could kill your baby. This is a new trend. I have never heard of it until the past maybe 810 years. And now all providers seem to have picked up the message that it's an OK. Bit of rhetoric to say, If anyone says that to you, you should be outraged. And you should tell them how dare you speak to me that way about my child. Some people just I don't know. I was once told by my aunt that this is an Italian thing. So Trisha, you can comment because in, in my upbringing, you never say things that you don't want to happen. You never say like, oh, so and so gave so and so a heart attack like you just don't even talk that way. It's disrespectful. It's, it's like, you just have this feeling like it's just a very inappropriate thing to say. And of course, making a comment about a baby is extreme and inappropriate for every other reason. But I find it just so unbelievable that they make comments like this. What do you what do you want to say about that?

First of all, I don't think that's just in Italian culture. I think that's almost like a law of the universe. Like we don't speak out loud things that we don't want to happen right?

I don't know my my mother in law who's German can say things like, Oh, be careful, you'll fall and I'll be like, don't say they'll fall Don't say that. So it made me start to wonder if it is if it is a cultural thing that some people are okay with another's or not. I have no idea. That might be true, but irregardless Just kidding. I did that on purpose. Okay, Regardless, there's no person who cares about the safety of her baby more than the mother. And this is what bothers me so much about those comments is implying that the mother doesn't care that I have to tell you that your baby is at risk by making you fearful that you're going to harm your baby, there is nobody who cares more about the well being of the baby than the mother just stopped saying that to her. It's just, it's not appropriate. You can say that there are increased risks if you do this, or you decline that. But to say that you're going to kill your baby, or your baby's going to die. It's just completely unnecessary, disrespectful and fear, fear mongering, right? To me, it's at the top of all the red flags. Because as we always say, the one thing you need in any provider and in any professional and anyone in your personal life, the one quality you need, and all of those people is a high emotional intelligence, and no one with an even average emotional intelligence would say such a thing to pregnant woman. So they're out if possible.

The nurse who was taking care of my son immediately after birth, was so angry at me because I would not let her give him sugar water when she wanted to do the hill prac. And it's because he hadn't nursed. And I could not wrap my head around the fact that the first thing that he would ever consume in his life would be sugar. So I told her no. And she was so rough with him after that, and so angry at me for saying no, that it was just torture watching her, tried to get blood out of his heel, it was just the absolute worst. And she she was my like post care nurse and I couldn't pee, because I had had so much damage I hemorrhage. And they cut in the PVR to me and I tore, and I almost needed a blood transfusion. And I couldn't pee for hours and hours and hours. And she would end up going to the bathroom. Basically watching the clock waiting for me to come out and just demanding that I go and then eventually I was able to, and I needed to go really bad. But I wasn't allowed to get out of bed because every time I tried to sit up, I almost blacked out because I had lost so much blood. So she told me I couldn't go to the bathroom without her assistance. And so I called her and said, Okay, I really need to go now. And she made me wait like 15 minutes before she came in the room to come help me go to the bathroom. And so, you know, that was awful. And then the pediatrician, gosh, my son couldn't nurse he wasn't able to latch and the pediatrician that came in a number of hours later to check on him, didn't care that he hadn't nursed, and instead sit across the room. You know, I'm laying in bed, I can't get up, I can't pee, I can't hold my baby, you didn't nurse and the pediatrician from across the room, drilled me on why I refused the vaccination of the hep B and the ointment and the vitamin K. And literally, I mean, I couldn't even think straight and he was lecturing me and drilling me in demanding to know my reasons for saying no to those things. So all in all, it could go on and on. But my hospital experience was so traumatic.

Why why is it so difficult to just respect a mother's choices? Why does there have to be so much resistance? Why is there so much retaliation?

ego, ego, ego, that's why she was passive aggressive about coming to help her when she finally was ready to go to the bathroom.

It's just gross. And you were completely justified in not wanting to give your baby sugar water is the first thing that ever entered their system.

How, how stupid is that? Does that ever make sense? It never makes sense. I mean, I'm not sure if there was a reason that the baby couldn't go to the breast. But anytime you're doing a newborn intervention like that, and he'll stick anything uncomfortable for the baby. If you can just put the baby on the breast that's your best bet.

Hi, this is Courtney. I am a first time mom, my son was born last October at 34 weeks. My plan was to have a birth center birth. The CT came early, I had to go to the hospital. And so the hospital that we drove to in my small town did not have a NICU. And so I transferred via helicopter to the nearest town that had an established NICU that could take care of my baby. So once I got to the hospital, my first OB was a male. And right off the bat, he was suggesting interventions like magnesium to help slow the birth, which I questioned and was wondering why we wanted to slow down the the labor if I was already in labor. And so we kind of he felt like we got off on the wrong foot. Since I was questioning and taking time to make decisions for myself and my baby. It was about 24 hours until Labor and he wanted to do a cervical check. And I declined. At that point, he was questioning why. And I said I didn't want to have one. It was I had had one at the first hospital to check to see my progress. And it was extremely painful. And I was honestly traumatized by it. And I didn't want another one. And at that point, he told me that if my labor stalled, and I didn't have any cervical checks that there was a chance that my baby would have cerebral palsy. So was super infuriating. And my husband about came out of his unglued when he said that. So we fired that OB and luckily he was almost finished in his shift. So we didn't have to work with him anymore. But after 33 hours of natural labor I use I received an epidural in Pitocin. And my son was born later the next day. He had Apgar scores of two, four and six. I had requested delayed cord clamping. And I saw that they were cutting his cord and was wondering why and the doctor said oh, well, it's been a minute. And so that was really discouraging. And also whenever my baby came out, he saw he was holding my son upside down. And he was thanking him on the bottom. And my doula, which was a lot at the hospital was just in shock that that was something that OB still did. So they rushed him to the the NICU nurses and he was on the CPAP for about 10 minutes and then he was taken to the NICU. I don't know how long we were apart. But we definitely missed the golden hour. It was a traumatic birth and I'm still processing it. But I'm so grateful that my son was born healthy and is just thriving. Just a little over a year old. So again, I know I said in the last time and I messaged you guys before but you guys truly have helped prepare me for being a first time mom and working through some of the postpartum issues that I've had. And I'm just so grateful for all the things that you have shared and that you do continue to share that So I just advocate for women.

So cerebral palsy by not doing a cervical exam, Trisha.

Not sure that that makes any sense at all. I don't know how a cervical exam is necessarily going to tell you the well being of the baby that's usually done through monitoring the baby's heart rate, not through a digital exam of the cervix. I guess the The doctor wanted to assess her progress. But I don't know this doctor hung the baby upside down by the legs and spank the baby on the bottom. And that just says it all.

Hello, my name is Rachel and I'm calling to share my pregnancy birth story at the hospital, my experience of the hospital. So I this is my second kiddo. And I was pregnant, due to have a baby at home set up with a midwife, all the stuff. But I had like really low iron levels and kind of was nearing the end. So they're like, Listen, if you go into labor, you have to go to the hospital. And I was like, okay, that's not gonna happen. But sure, whatever. Well, it ended up like a week before I was due, I what I thought felt like was going into labor. And so you know, your contractions are super close together, we packed our bags, we went to the hospital, just like the whole time just feeling kind of discouraged and kind of let down because my plan wasn't working. So I thought it would work. I just had a birth center birth with our first baby. So it was like, not not at all what I thought was gonna happen. So I was in the hospital. And once I got there, basically, like my contractions had stopped. I was no longer in labor. And like, I really felt like I just wasn't safe. I didn't feel comfortable. We were in triage for a couple hours for them to monitor me and then like sent me home. And I was like sneaking essential oils and my telling my husband like Okay, give me water, give me a snack like do this do that. To like, try and make sure labor would keep going. If that was the case, but that wasn't the case, like I totally shut down totally stopped. And I felt like that was my body kind of protecting me from a situation or a traumatic experience. Because a couple days later, I got my own test taken is totally fine to be able to deliver at home. And a week later, I had my baby at home. And it was like a two and a half hour delivery like literally from start to finish. He was here in two and a half hours. So I just felt like that was just such a crazy experience that I did not feel safe, did not feel ready to have my baby and it totally stopped.

Just for the record, labs make errors on bloodwork all the time. So if you're homebirth versus hospital birth is hanging on the result of a single lab test, get it checked again, go to a different lab, get a get a second test.

At Trisha and Cynthia, I have a few hospital anecdotes. Once at a prenatal appointment. When talking about the vitamin K shot, my doctor said, I've never heard of any bad side effects from the vitamin K shot. The next was I brought a binder full of research containing inserts for the vitamin K shot Hepatitis B shot and I admit and studies that supported my claim that there's some bad side effects to these. Let's just say she never questioned my declination of these interventions for my newborn. After that. When I was in labor as a first time mom, full of fear, tensing and pain at each contraction, I asked for the epidural. And as I was at the peak of a contraction, the nurse shoved a stack of paperwork for the epidural for me to read and sign as a form of informed consent. I remember thinking even then, are you kidding me? Where was all of this information during my prenatal visits? As I was pushing my baby out, the two doctors were talking to each other about their weekend plans. My doctor then proceeded to give me an episiotomy without my consent or knowledge after I told her not to do it, prenatal visits and then as a cherry on top for that hospital stay. They forgot to bring me food the second day that I was there. And I was very, very hungry as a lactating mom. So yeah, there you have it.

This happens all the time with the paperwork. It's put in front of the mother's face when she is not at all in a state of mind to read it. It's like six pages long and nobody nobody even verbalizes the main concerns they just asked you to sign the damn document. It's it's really, it's an abuse of informed consent is not informed consent.

I just I'm really bothered that she told her doctor at multiple appointments. She didn't want an episiotomy and then the doctor gave her one. There just there has to be More consequence for doctors who do this, you cannot do something to another person's body against their will. That's abuse.

Yeah, it's called medical assault.

Hi, it's Natalie Warren, I have my baby back in July, I got to the hospital around 8:05am. And they, my plan was to have my birth at the birth center located within a teaching hospital about, I don't know, 15 to 20 minutes after I got to pass them, my water broke while I was in the room. And I was meconium in my water. And they told me that I would have to move room and I no longer qualified to be part of the birth center, I had to go to a regular labor and delivery room. So they put me in a wheelchair, like on my hands and knees, I don't think I had pants on at this point. They just wrapped something around me. This must have been after 830. And they moved me probably to room down and put me in the room and I finally was able to like climb up on the bed and be on my hands and knees. Essentially, it's in an elevated position. And my baby was here by 859. So I don't think I ever truly understood why the NICU team wouldn't be able to respond to a Birth Center Room. But I guess that's hospital policy, which I knew going into the birth but I would face something like that. But to be a low risk pregnancy, and literally disqualify for the birth center in the last moment before your baby arrives. Seems pretty out of this world, I was not prepared for that. Love you ladies. And I'll never forget Cynthia thing in the HypnoBirthing class how, when you say you love your doctor, you most likely don't actually love your doctor, you probably really appreciate your doctor, something along those lines. I've never forgotten, because I thought it was so funny because it's true. So I greatly appreciate you ladies a lot and very appreciative of the show. And wishing you guys the best, you know if every birth that has meconium in the water is going to be risked out of a birth center. That's just kind of silly. I mean, not every baby who has meconium in the water needs NICU and didn't they move or just two rooms down?

Right where the where the NICU could actually get there. I mean, it's that's absurdity. That's red tape, that is just policy that is nonsensical.

About odd comments received at the hospital. In the post partum period, after I'd had my second child via successful VBAC. The hospital was quite small, and they didn't see the back very often. So it was kind of a party in the delivery room afterwards, but in the following day, I got lots of visits from the different nurses. And the head nurse came in one day before I was discharged and told me that it I had arrived. It's just the perfect time because I arrived a little bit earlier, were a little bit later, I would have been an automatic C section because of other inductions that were happening and staff shortages. This is something that was never shared with me, through all of my questioning before the delivery, and was just incredibly shocking and to this day is still incredibly shocking. That it could have even been a possibility. Of course after a successful VBAC. I went on three years later to have a successful VBAC again at home. So, lesson learned,

staff shortages should not have any bearing on whether or not you have a vaginal birth or a VBAC that is just not okay.

And they never told her that whether she has a VBAC would come down to how well they manage their staffing, which is just an interesting thing when this is a life changing experience for a woman and she puts so much planning and effort into it in most cases and this nonchalant Oh, yeah, well, because of our staffing, you wouldn't have been able to do this and the truth is yes, she could have done it anyway because she could have refused an automatic there is no automatic C section that that's not a thing.

And it impacts her future health, you can't make a decision around her. That's gonna have a significant impact on her future health based on staffing. Hi, my name is an I'm from Western Pennsylvania. And I'm here to call and talk about my postpartum story in the hospital. So I burst my eight pound one ounce boy at home on Thanksgiving this year. And it was my first I'm a first time mom and then approximately four days after or I burst him, I started getting high blood pressure and ended up getting a severe headache. So we went to the hospital to get checked out. And because I had not burst in a hospital, unfortunately, most of the staff that we interacted with, were very, not hospitable. The OB that were involved, you know, barely want to speak to me, the most dramatic part was they, they were trying to deny my four day old baby from being able to room in with me in the hospital. And we were exclusively breastfeeding. So that was extremely difficult. And my mother who, who came with me, had to advocate for us to bring him in. And one of the bizarre things that was sad was that the nurses, the OB staff, not a single person that was helping us wanted to recognize our cute little baby boy, or wanted to talk to us about, you know, anything besides just, you know, what's your blood pressure? How's that been going? Has your headache have your headache gone? And so it was a very traumatic experience to be there for 24 hours on a mag drip. And then for observation afterwards. And no one cared to hear talk to or acknowledge, you know, really ask or answer many of our questions or acknowledge my sweet little baby boy. So, so yeah, it was definitely not the postpartum bliss experience that we expected. And, you know, their lack of hospital, hospitality with us was definitely very clear because I was a home birth or after our mother gives birth, whether the mother is admitted re admitted as a patient, or the baby is admitted as a patient, the two are still one. It's a dyad. It is not there not to be treated. So separately, we just did a story about this with the woman whose baby had to go to the ER and the mother was three hours post birth and completely ignored at all the attention was on the baby. Meanwhile, she has just given birth and needs attention and care as well. Why can we not understand that the mom and baby are still a unit.

In a way this story makes me the saddest of all the stories because something about giving birth and holding this precious baby and all these people who have chosen to work with babies, as a career, you're not just getting into random elevator with your baby. All these people who have chosen to work with babies are coming and going and they're not even looking at your baby. They're not even saying What a precious beautiful little baby this is. How is that possible? That would hurt. Because you're, you're proud and you adore this little baby and you just want kindness presented at this baby. You want smiles coming toward this baby and to think they're just coming and going like the babies aren't there, I totally get that that would hurt coming from people in the field who you think are into babies to begin with.

Hi, just wanted to share my experience regarding a pediatrician trying to force formula on my baby who had jaundice he actually let me know, he advised me that I should feed as much formula as possible. When I asked how much he needs to feed, he said, even if he throws it up, he needs to drink as much as possible. He was actually feeding fine at the breast. He was about two maybe three days old already at the time. I asked him if I could pump and feed him my breast milk and he said there's no way you're going to be making enough breast milk, you might the most you'll get is a couple of drops. And that's not going to be enough. Which I proceeded to pump and got more than he actually suggested way more than a couple of drops. I had also brought up syringe feeding and he hospital policies that you're not allowed to drink for you for some reason. Thankfully, I've taken my syringes with me to the hospital. And there was an ibclc who was kind enough to risk her job to help us syringe feed the pump milk that I had pumped myself and she asked us to please not tell anyone at the hospital that she helped us through that because she would get fired. Another very upsetting experience I had was when the nurse's assistant, I believe she was was giving me so much attitude about not wanting to give formula to my baby and telling me Things like, do I even know the risks, I'm going to be causing him brain damage. And because he's jaundice, this is to mother who just gave birth about two days ago. He's already scared about the whole process of everything she's going through. And then she also got upset with me because I wouldn't leave my baby under the blue light. Because he was screaming. And I was not about to leave my newborn child just screaming his head off by himself. Under the blue light, I basically was told that if I don't force me maybe as much formula as possible until he throws up that the jaundice may be causing him brain damage, instead of giving him my own milk, that again, he was feeding fine at the breast. And then milk was coming in great. So that was my unfortunate experience, as well as the nurse, nurse's assistant who actually made me so upset that I cried, because of the way she was like, looking at me, so dumbfounded, giving me all this attitude about leaving my baby under the blue light as you screaming, trying to pull his eyemask off, as well as giving him the formula like I was advised. Just wanted to share my story. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to do that.

I would have cried too. And then I think I would have punched him.

Again, easy for you to say now, but you might have just frozen.

That's true. Why? Why do doctors presume to tell mothers that they know how their body's going to respond that they know what their body's going to do, he sat there and told her that she would never be able to produce enough milk for her baby. This is what our body is designed to do. And she produced ample milk for her baby. And don't ever feel bad about choosing to decline to give your baby formula if you can give them your breast milk instead.

And feed your baby till your baby throws up or your baby will have brain damage. I mean this just like, again, like who said that was at a doctor, a nurse, I think, see. So this is why you need to go to the right people for the right situation. Because this is not a breastfeeding expert who's giving this dangerous advice. Well, happy holidays is our way of sharing our way of sharing your happy holiday wishes as to to send you into the holidays with these birth stories that might have gotten your blood pressure up. But sharing stories is important. And we know that sharing the inspirational stories is important. But we also consciously and intentionally share these as well because they're valuable. And yes, women want to be heard and everything like that. But we know that when these stories are shared, however it impacts you emotionally, you're now going to basically ensure that the same won't happen to you. And we can stop this kind of abuse when we talk about these stories. So we want to thank these women for so openly for going out of their way and calling us and for so openly sharing what their experiences were in the interest of hopefully not seeing these things happen to anyone else.

Hear everyone and listen to yourselves people.

And have a happy beautiful holiday. We have an extra long extra special q&a for you next Wednesday as always last Wednesday of the month. In the meantime, enjoy whatever your plans are. We'll see you next week for our last episode of the year. Cheers.

Thank you for joining us at the Down To Birth Show. You can reach us @downtobirthshow on Instagram or email us at Contact@DownToBirthShow.com. All of Cynthia’s classes and Trisha’s breastfeeding services are offered live online, serving women and couples everywhere. Please remember this information is made available to you for educational and informational purposes only. It is in no way a substitute for medical advice. For our full disclaimer visit downtobirthshow.com/disclaimer. Thanks for tuning in, and as always, hear everyone and listen to yourself.

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About Cynthia Overgard

Cynthia is a published writer, advocate, childbirth educator and postpartum support specialist in prenatal/postpartum healthcare and has served thousands of clients since 2007. 

About Trisha Ludwig

Trisha is a Yale-educated Certified Nurse Midwife and International Board Certified Lactation Counselor. She has worked in women's health for more than 15 years.

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