"Traumatic labour"

About: King Edward Memorial Hospital / Maternity

(as the patient),

I’m a few months post-partum and still dealing with the trauma of my birth at King Edward Memorial Hospital (KEMH). 

My first birth at King Eddies went great so I was looking forward to having my second. I have Vasovagal Syncope and was having lots of problems with fainting so I was seeing a psychologist through the hospital. To help with my fainting it was really important to have adequate pain management and lots of support. This was very clear in my birth plan and I would tell anyone that would listen. 

I made it to just over 30 weeks and then out of the blue my water broke. We rushed to the hospital and I was admitted to the maternity ward. They gave me steroids to help develop baby's lungs, antibiotics to stop infection and put me on bed rest until I went into labour. I believe they were hoping baby would stay put for a couple of weeks but two days later I woke up late at night with an intense contraction. 

Over the next couple of hours the pain became unbearable. I wanted my spouse to come in but my midwife told me to let them get some rest and not to call them yet. I begged for an epidural but they weren’t able to give it to me until they were sure I was in active labour. I asked to be transferred to a delivery suite but was told I had to wait. They agreed to give me morphine but when they were injecting it the medicine kept leaking out the side. I'm not sure how much I ended up getting but I felt it didn’t help at all.

Finally, after midnight a doctor came and checked me. They said my cervix was still closed and I wasn’t in labour yet. I was in so much pain, it didn’t make sense. Over the next hour the pain intensified. I was running around the room non-stop trying to outrun the pain. There was no break in between contractions. I believe my midwife was busy with other patients and I felt like a massive inconvenience to them. I told them I needed to push and all they said was don’t push, and left the room. I thought about leaving the maternity ward and going to the emergency room downstairs, maybe they would believe that I was in labour? There’s no way I could make it there though. I felt so alone and helpless as no one was there for me. Alone in the bathroom, I reached down and felt my baby’s head coming out. I pressed the emergency button and everyone came rushing in. They got me in the bed and as soon as they saw the head they started wheeling me to the delivery room. My midwife looked at me and said sternly (in my opinion), don’t scream and don’t push.

I was in shock. I didn’t make a sound. I just wanted the pain to stop and for my baby to be ok. I pushed my baby out in 10 minutes. They were born just 92 minutes from when I was last checked and told I was definitely not in labour. 

A few minutes later my spouse arrived. They were so shocked to see our baby already born. No one had told my spouse I was in labour but they were worried when I didn’t answer my phone, so they called the hospital and they told them to come in. Our child was transferred to the NICU where they stayed for just over two weeks. 

I don’t feel like I got adequate support during my labour. I felt I was in the most excruciating pain of my life and I felt like no one believed me. I didn’t get to have anyone with me supporting me or telling me it was going to be ok. 


Response from Jodi Graham, A/Executive Director, Women and Newborn Health Service

picture of Jodi Graham

Dear Motionsickness,

Firstly I would like to extend my congratulations to you and your family on the birth of your second child. I appreciate the time you have taken to raise your concerns regarding your birthing experience with the Women and Newborn Health Service (WNHS). WNHS strives to provide quality, patient-centred care and I am sorry that this was not the case on this occasion.

I am sorry that you did not feel like you were provided with adequate support during your labour, which seems to have been an unusually fast and unpredictable labour. I understand the importance of having the support of your loved ones during this time and I would like to apologise that your spouse did not get the opportunity to provide this support to you and to be present during the birth of your second child.

I am disappointed to read that you felt that you were an inconvenience to the staff involved in your care, that you felt that the midwifery staff did not believe you were in labour and that you were not reviewed by staff regularly. Generally, once a woman’s membranes have ruptured, medical staff are reluctant to perform further examinations due to the risk of infection. Your Midwife may have recommended that you did not push and that you breathe through your contractions to delay the arrival of your baby, wanting to have you deliver in the labour suite with a Paediatrician present.

Our service is keen to rectify this situation and would like to opportunity to meet with you to discuss your concerns further. Should you wish to arrange the meeting to discuss your concerns please contact the WNHS Customer Service Unit (CSU) on 6458 1444, who will make the arrangements. Your General Practitioner can also provide you with a referral, should you also wish to access any further support services within WNHS.

I would like to wish you and your family all of the best for the future and I thank you again for taking the time to share your experience with our service with me.

Kind regards,

Jodi Graham

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