Worst Case Scenario
Having a baby can be one of the most nerve-wracking experiences a new mother can go through. But usually, by the fourth time around, you kind of know what to expect as far as the hospital experience goes–or at least you’d think. For one young mother, baring her fourth child was nothing like her first three. She was promised “progressive and natural” techniques, but instead, the care she got physically and mentally scarred her for life…
Natural Child Birth
Caroline Malatesta was no newbie when it came to childbirth. She had always chosen to use an epidural during the previous births but after hearing all the benefits that came along with a natural birth, she was determined to experience one. Little did she know, that decision would change her life forever.
Caroline and her family live in Alabama where birthing practices and reproductive healthcare clinics are few and far between, and the ones that are available are often decades behind the rest of the country in technique and practice. However, when she heard about a new Women’s Clinic in a hospital nearby, she thought her prayers had been answered.
Brookwood Medical Center
Brookwood Medical Center was the only center offering progressive birthing practices, as any home birth assisted by a midwife or home nurse is illegal in the state of Alabama. The center advertised “personalized birthing plans” so Caroline thought she would do a little research and talk to friends before making her decision.
Old School VS New School
She knew that anything had to be better than the old school approach the previous hospital, St. Vincent, had taken for all three of her other children. Talking to some of her friends that lived out of state, she determined that it was absolutely necessary that she go with a center that was more open-minded and progressive, so Brookwood it was.
She thought she was in the best hands possible, but she couldn’t have been more wrong.
As the birth of her fourth child grew nearer, Caroline and husband TJ were confident that everything would go as smoothly as it did the previous times,“It was all about comfort and choice. It was about getting whatever you want out of your birthing plan. That’s what first drew me in and eventually convinced me to leave my longtime ob-gyn to birth at this hospital.”
She had a special plan for this one.
Choosing The Right Position
After much research, Caroline knew that giving birth on your back isn’t necessarily the healthiest position for mom or baby. Instead, many suggest squatting or sitting on your knees is the most effective and natural way to give birth. Although many in Alabama weren’t familiar with this information, Caroline thought Brookwood, being the progressive birth-plan specialists they claimed to be, would understand.
She had no idea what was about to happen.
The plan for a natural childbirth, specific to Caroline’s requests, was set in motion. The horrific event that took place on the day of the birth wasn’t an issue with choosing the right plan, it was with that Brookwood staff didn’t follow the one they agreed to.
Nightmare Turned Reality
When she started to have contractions at home, she knew it was time to head to the center. When she got there, it was as if the staff just threw her plan out the window. Decisions like having mobile monitoring so she could move about while going through labor were all very important to Caroline and from the moment she arrived, the nurses went against her every wish.
As soon as she got settled into her room the head nurse told her to,“Put on your gown and use the restroom now because you won’t be able to get out of bed for the next twenty minutes, and possibly for the rest of your labor.” From the start, she was uncomfortable and tried to voice that this wasn’t what her doctor promised, but was met with hostility, “Well your doctor is not on call.”
Is This Really Happening?
Caroline remembers how hostile the nurses became with her, “From that point on, it became a back-and-forth of ‘But my doctor said I could’ and ‘But you don’t get to.’ The nurse treated me like a disobedient child!” she continued, “As we went back and forth — me asking questions and telling her this was more painful for me, and her getting increasingly irritated — it became very clear that this wasn’t about health or safety. It was a power struggle.”
The Struggle Continues
The struggle continued as Caroline tried to get answers to her questions but the nurses were uninterested in trying to make this worried mother more comfortable, let alone give her what she was promised. As if that isn’t bad enough, when the time came to push, the nurses physically assulted her.
As soon as Caroline felt the urg to push as a giant contraction rushed over her, she got on her hands and knees as that is the position that felt most natural to her. Within seconds, the unthinkable occurred, “But the nurse pulled my wrist out from under me and flipped me over on to my back! Then another nurse held my baby’s head into my vagina to prevent him from being delivered.”
The horror doesn’t stop there, however.
Six Minutes Of Hell
For more than six minutes the nurse pushed the baby back into Caroline, preventing a complete natural birth form happening until the doctor entered the room. Within 60 seconds of his arrival the baby was born, but Caroline was in severe pain.
Due to the malpractice, she suffered permanment nerve damage and PTSD from the horrific actions of the nurse. To make a horrible situation even worse, the hospital stopped answering her demand for answers.
Suing For Damages
After fighitng long and hard for justice, Caroline had to sue the hospital for malpractice and false advertising because they refused to settle with her. Not only was this horrific for her, but she brings up a valif point about birthing practices in the US, “I think a lot of times hospitals think it’s just ‘silly women’ who want their ‘silly birth experience.’ But it’s more than that. These women that are making these choices are making real, medical decisions!”