After I shared Lisa’s story Monday and Tuesday, another mom contacted me who had given birth during the strike. This time, the circumstances were a little different; Ashley had a planned cesarean. She was still suffered from incompetent care, and she wasn’t given food, water, or medication for long stretches of time for the duration of her 4 night stay.
When you read her story, please keep the following things in mind:
- The evidence supporting skin to skin right after birth for a cesarean is strong; benefits include more stable blood sugar and better regulated respiration– two things her son developed after he was taken from his mother.
- Moms should be given food no more than 3 hours after a cesarean; Ashley wasn’t given food until the day AFTER her son was born.
- As soon as a mother is alert, it’s completely safe for her to breastfeed. Mothers with spinal anesthesia can breastfeed immediately.
- Even late preterm babies (Ashley’s was born at 38 weeks, 2 days) in the NICU or special care nursery should be given the option to breastfeed whenever possible.
A few things are starting to become clear: While staffing during the strike might have been adequate in other departments and other hospitals, the night nurses at Abbott from 7PM to 7AM did not take care of the patients. Food, medication, and water were withheld from at least 2 moms for very long stretches of time. Only very vocal family members saved these moms from total neglect.
Penny Wheeler is a former OBGYN. Again, she claims up and down that the replacement nurses took good care of patients, but no decent OBGYN would find this to be safe care. How can anyone justify the care that these moms received? I’ve spent the last decade of my life advocating for good maternity care, and nothing has angered me as much as hearing this care happened within my own city.
As before, if you have questions about your care options after Monday, contact me. If you have a story about your care that you want heard, contact me. My phone number is 651-200-3343 and I can be reached at email@example.com
Ashley’s story is below. It was edited for clarity, and I have been given explicit permission to post it.
I had a scheduled C-section on June 22nd, 2016 due to my son being breech. When I arrived at Abbott, I noticed that there were hundreds of people walking around protesting only to learn these were the nurses I had gotten to know over my entire pregnancy journey.
I was scheduled for surgery at 12pm, and up until I was brought into the OR everything had been going great. Then things went downhill. The nurse who was assisting with the surgery was holding the clamp opening up my incision pulled so hard that she fell backwards off of the stool she was standing on. This ripped my incision open larger than needed and made for an extremely crooked scar. I was not allowed to hold my son for a good 45 minutes once he was taken out, but not because there was any complication. I begged and pleaded to get some skin to skin contact with him as I knew it is very important in the breastfeeding process. I was told skin to skin was unsanitary for me while being in the operating room.
Once I had been all stitched up, I was put into recovery while they made sure my uterus was shrinking and I wasn’t going to lose too much blood. At this time, they noticed my son was grunting and took him to special care to be evaluated for fluid in his lungs.
Two hours later I was brought up to my postpartum room and was introduced to my first nurse. She was amazing, and I would take her again any day. She promptly gave my meds and kept my water full, but she wouldn’t allow me to eat anything. She informed me about everything going on and kept me cleaned up well. I asked when I could go see my son and she said as soon as my catheter was removed. I was told the next nurse would do it immediately after shift change at 7pm– at that time, it was around 6pm.
When 7pm came, I paged for my nurse. I was in excruciating pain and I was bleeding so much that I had bled through the pad I had on and the blankets on my bed had become saturated. I paged my nurse at least 3 times, but nobody ever answered my calls. My dad came to visit. He found me sitting in a bloody mess, bawling my eyes out. I was desperate for help that I was not receiving. My dad was outraged and tracked down any nurse he could to help me. At 9PM I was finally given my pain medication. I asked again about having them take out my catheter; by 10pm it was finally removed and I could go see my son.
While my son was being kept in the nursery, the staff had done an x-ray and his lungs looked clear. I had received a call from special care at 8pm saying my son had still not been fed and he was delivered at 1:18pm. He hadn’t been fed anything at all since he was born, and his blood sugar dropped to 35. I asked to breastfeed him, but I was told that was not allowed. I was told I could pump to feed him, but because I’d had a cesarean, I wasn’t allowed to breastfeed him. I was heartbroken. The only options I was given for feeding him was donor milk or formula.
I got to him around 10pm and stayed until 11pm. I went up to my room to rest and let my body recover. I was told 3am was his next feeding time, and I was welcome to come bottle feed him–but I still wasn’t allowed to breastfeed. At 3am when I came down my son had an IV in his hand. Neither his dad nor I ever gave informed consent for this to be placed. Then the nurses told me they had to give him sugar water because his blood sugar was still too low. They didn’t mention to me that his blood sugar was low when I had been there 4 hours prior. Then they also informed me they started a preventative antibiotic while I was away to stop his grunting, and he was going to have to stay in special care for at least another 48 hours. I cried as they told me if he pulls out this IV would need to put it in his head. I felt scared, sad and angry that not only they had done these things to my baby without me knowledge or consent, but that they could threaten more procedures. Infection had been ruled out prior to this IV, so I knew my son was fine without then.
On day 2 of my stay again my morning nurse did a fantastic job. My night nurse completely neglected me; she never filled my water or told me where I could go to fill it. She didn’t bring me my pain meds until 6am– right before the end of her shift. This occurred all 4 nights I was there. By 7am I was begging my good nurse to help me get the pain managed again. And it would continue to relapse at shift change every time.
My last night I was finally able to have my son with me in my room. The morning nurse was there to help me breastfeed him finally for the first time. He latched great and stayed on 30 minutes each side she was so supportive of me the entire time wanting to breastfeed my son. She promised the second I got him I could feed him myself and kept her promise.
A week and a half after I was discharged, I developed a staph infection in my incision. Originally, they told me I was mistaken. I insisted on a culture. They finally did it and sent me home that I would get results later. Next day they called me and told me I had a serious staph infection; they sent antibiotics to my pharmacy that I needed to get immediately. If nothing got better in 3 days I was to go to urgent care. Thankfully, the infection cleared.
I encourage anyone due during strike to do your research before going through with your delivery. I also want to apologize to any other mothers who had a terrible experience during their deliveries. The delivery of my son turned into the biggest nightmare I could have never imagined. I expected it to all be so happy and didn’t imagine I’d be so depressed throughout my hospital stay. Thankfully my son and I are both extremely happy and healthy since being home.