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I'm going to talk about something a little different on the blog today and focus on the birth of my daughter. It's quite hard for me to write about because I tend to steer clear of anything that's too personal and this one is at the top of that list. My beautiful daughter will be turning three this month and I know that sooner or later our birth story would creep onto the blog. Inspired by my lovely friend Emma Island Living 365 and the Mumsnet campaign for #BetterPostnatalCare I have decided to share my experience. So with that let me take you back to Wednesday the 25th June 2014.

I was absolutely exhausted. On the Monday it was our due date, it was go time. Baby Combes would certainly be here soon. After a lovely breakfast of pancakes and strawberries, I had my first twinge and by Wednesday afternoon my beautiful little girl made her entrance into the world. I had been awake for the best part of two days. We were moved to the ward and told we could go home, after the paperwork was completed. It was so overwhelming but I couldn't wait to back home as a family of three. Two hours passed, I had a shower, ate some toast and had a well earned cup of tea. I was told that I needed to produce a sample before leaving. I did what I had to do and now we were being shipped to the recovery ward.

During my labour my heart rate was constantly being monitored and now I was being hooked up to another monitor and the nurse was taking my blood pressure readings. I remember thinking well this is strange for someone who is going home, but I tried not to worry about it due to my high blood pressure. Think happy thoughts and you can go home. I don't think the six bottles of Lucozade helped my blood pressure, but a nurse assured me that this has no effect to my readings. So I did as I was asked, watching my beautiful little girl thinking happy thoughts, it was OK because I was going home soon. Two hours passed! My blood pressure wasn't going down, but I was actually becoming more agitated so of course it wouldn't go down and I wasn't told much more other than it's just observations. We were all exhausted, agitated, needed rest and we wanted to go home. My husband dressed our daughter in her going home outfit and all settled in her car seat. My mum was also becoming tired and annoyed with the lack of communication and snapped at a nurse. We were then told we should have know that we wouldn't have been allowed home when we had our baby in the afternoon.

We were told we were moving from recovery to maternity, it was 11pm

We walk to the ward and the nurse touched my husband on the chest and told him that he goes no further. I remember feeling so scared. I had this new born baby girl who I was now responsible for. I couldn’t do it on my own and I didn’t want my husband to leave. Yet, he was ushered out and told to return during visitor hours. I was told to ring the buzzer for help if I needed it and told to get some sleep and with that they left me. I was on my own with my baby and I was so scared. I will never forget the heart breaking look in my husband's eyes as he walked away from me and our baby with an empty car seat. Absolutely heart breaking.

The nurse showed me to my 'quarters' and pulled the curtains and she left. I knew I needed sleep, yet I wasn't able to relax. I just watched my new baby sleep, it was a surreal moment. Then a panic overcame me and I became so scared and asked myself all sorts of questions. What if she wakes? What if she stopped breathing? What if someone comes to tell me and my baby to shut up? I just watched her and I cried. I remember when she woke up, those high pitched cries pierced my ears and I began to panic. She was hungry and I was so scared. What the hell do I do? I don't know what to do? I had thought that the mother instinct would happen naturally but it didn't. So I rang the bell for help but no one came. I tried again. Nothing. We couldn't stop the tears. My baby was clearly hungry and I didn't have a clue what I needed to do. So I took my baby in my arms to search for a nurse. I found a nurse busying herself with her paperwork when I approached her to ask where I could prepare a bottle, she just pointed in the direction of the feeding room and so I hobbled away. As a first time mum I remembering feeling very overwhelmed. I had just pushed a little human being out of me, I hadn't really slept, I was in pain and my baby was crying with temper. I didn't know what to do, I couldn't even make a bottle for her. Despite my daughter's high pitched crying no one came, absolutely no one.

It was like my mothering instincts should have kicked in, but I was too scared. I didn't know what to do. Was it supposed to be this hard?  However, I don’t blame the nurses or the midwives. They were understaffed. They were doing the best they could. But at the time, I couldn't see this. I just thought that they were being unhelpful, they wasn't to know that I was struggling with her bottle. In the end, due to me being such an introvert I found myself googling how to make a baby bottle, I was in such a state that I didn't even think to read the instructions on the tin. All the information and advice that I was told from midwives and family went completely out of the window, I forgot every piece of advice. In the end I managed to make my baby her first bottle...

Finally my daughter settled down and we both went to sleep.

We were woken up from our slumber with the hustle and bustle of a new shift coming on the ward. The nurses were making their rounds and one to took my blood pressure again, I didn't even look at the reading on the screen due all the emotions that my body and mind had been through in the last 48 hours. The first night with my baby was so hard, and not what I expected. But you know what, I was actually in a good mood, I was going home today, so nothing could dampen my mood. My husband walks in with gifts and the one thing that I have craved all my pregnancy but wasn't allowed, a tuna mayonnaise sandwich. It's 8am! A tuna sandwich tastes amazing at 8am. As a nurse walked by I asked my husband to find out if I can go home. I always get super nervous when I am around new people or when I have to ask for things, so my husband does all that for me. We were just told that we would have to wait for the doctors to come around. Which did mean, more waiting! All I wanted to do was go home with my new family so we could try and settle into parenthood.

More than five hours later, I was still waiting. My curtains were still drawn, no one had been in to see me in five hours. I overheard two nurses talking to one another about why no one had been in to take my observations. Thinking back to that moment, no wonder why my blood pressure readings were high, as hearing those comments didn't make me feel any calmer. But one of the nurses came in, apologised for not keeping my readings in order and went on to say that because no one had been taking the readings I would need to stay in for a little longer.  I honestly couldn't fault this nurse, she was honest and so apologetic. My daughter was discharged and I felt absolutely fine, I just wanted to be home around my own comforts.

It got to a point where all I seemed to be doing was waiting, I think I had been more than fair seeing as I had a 'normal' birth and my blood pressure was coming down, slightly. My baby had been discharged so why couldn't I go home too? Every one in my ward was going home, even a few who came in after. As more blood pressure readings were being taken, I got so upset because no one was telling me anything, even the nurse couldn't understand. My blood pressure readings were lower. In the end, it got too much I was so annoyed, I had waited for long enough and now I was demanding to know exactly what was going on and why I was allowed to go home. Then the ward sister basically told us that we would have to wait and that there really isn't anything we could do about it. You will just have to wait. I was quite taken back but her rudeness. So we waited. We were told that the consultants were busy with an emergency C-section, which I was more than happy to wait for, I knew they all had a job to do. But having my curtains drawn, being ignored and watching other people getting discharged gave me a different impression.

So, I discharged myself.

There's was absolutely no need for me to take up a cubicle in that hospital, it was wasting time. I was given some medication for my blood pressure and told to return if there are any changes to my symptoms. As far as I was concerned there were no symptoms!!! At 10pm we were finally leaving the hospital as a family of three. My perfect little family!

Why I have decided to share our story

I guess, I have been inspired by other women who have been through a similar experience to me and now realised that what happened to me after the birth of my baby girl was not acceptable. There was really no need for me to spend all that time on the ward, there was no need for my curtains to be constantly closed, to feel ignored, to feel isolated, to feel so scared and completely alone. That first night with my baby was awful. I didn't feel supported or encouraged in the beginning of my journey into motherhood. It was completely unacceptable and it seems as if its happening all the time. I want to share my story  in the hopes to encourage other mothers to share their stories with the #BetterPostnatalCare Campaign. I know that the people on that ward were just trying to do their best, with the understaffing and crazy amount of paper work. But postnatal care does need to become a focus and definitely needs more funding. That is why I am supporting the Mumsnet Better Postnatal Care campaign. Mothers need to be encouraged and supported, so if you would like to support this campaign then you can write about your own experiences. Let’s make change happen.
  1. The more birth stories I read, the more I realise that post natal care is not what it should be. My own experiences were terrible, both times. Different reasons, and different hospitals, but still down to probably the same thing - under-staffing.It's such a shame that the start to your life as a mum was tainted with such an experience, but hopefully all of those special moments since then have more than made up for it!

  2. I so hear you on this. We definitely need better postnatal care. After both of my births the care wasn't great. Some midwives were amazing, some less so. I got a lot of attention after I had Oscar as I had lost a lot of blood and needed regular obs before they would let me home but even then it seemed to take forever. And 4 years ago after Zach? I spent a whole Saturday waiting to get discharged because there was one doctor on and she was in surgery! All you want to do after you have a baby is go home. In fact, I was really lucky after I had Oscar because the other half for some reason was allowed to stay with me. Maybe because I gave birth quite late at night and then passed out! Who knows, but he was there with me until my mum came to collect us all. Whereas with Zach, I was left alone in a private room after having a section! This is a fabulous campaign to support :) Thanks for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday

  3. What a moving post and well done you for sharing your story. I'm so sorry and sad that you didn't receive the care that you should have. I think that the more women who speak out about this the better. Women deserve to be cared for after having a baby! xx

  4. We're sorry to hear that your experience was so frustrating and upsetting, but thank you for sharing your story and supporting our campaign for better postnatal care. Please do get in touch if you'd like to be involved with the campaign in any other capacity.

  5. This breaks my heart, no one should have to start motherhood in such a negative way. It's unfortunately a wider issue than just a few hospitals, it's happening all over. Maternity wards are understaffed and stretched to their limits (and beyond!) But that doesn't mean their attitudes have to stink! I'm sorry you had to go through this, it was all so unnecessary. I hope women will start to speak out and create a change in postnatal care! Becky x

  6. As someone who had amazing postnatal care when I was very poorly following my daughter's birth it makes me so sad to read your story. :( I guess I was one of the lucky ones!

  7. Such an important issue to raise awareness of, we also had less than good care in hospital resulting in readmission less than 24 hours after being discharged. Well done you for sharing your story.

  8. I am also supporting this campaign and have written my own post after having baby number three - it's important to get all these stories out there #twinklytuesday

  9. YOur story made me so angry and so sad for you at the same time. FOr such a beautiful moment in life to be sullied by such horrendous attitudes. YOur baby is gorgeous as is your beautiful family

  10. I don't really have any experience of postnatal care in hospital, I was home within three and a half hours of having my son. I did receive good care from the local breastfeeding support though. I did feel like the care in the hospital wasn't great when I was in for monitoring, especially when it didn't seem as though they were that busy. There definitely needs to be a shake up throughout the whole maternity care!

    I feel so sad that your first days weren't great. Thank you for sharing your story!

  11. So beautiful to read and its a great post to read back on later on!

  12. I'm sorry you had such a horrible experience. I had to discharge myself as well with my last baby as I was told I would have to stay in 72 hours, despite the fact I have two older childen who also need their mum x

  13. I was too scared to pick up my eldest, I so regret that now. I wish the midwives had said it was ok to pick him up and cuddle :(

  14. Such an important post lovely. The aftercare with my first child was so poor it makes me so sad to think back. I changed hospitals with my 2nd and 3rd which made such a difference. #kcacols

  15. Sorry that you had such as sad start, unfortunately I think there are many others like you out there. Beautiful photos. Thanks for linking up with #KCACOLS, hope to see you again next time.

  16. My sister had the same problem when my niece was born. The baby was fine but she was in hospital for five days with high blood pressure getting more stressed every day she was there and not at home. #kcacols

  17. I have read a few of these posts now and they all show that post natal care needs improving. I had a dreadful time when my youngest was born and even now, 6 years later, I can't bare to think about it. Even reading this post has made my body twitch and shake. It's such an important time for mums to be well looked after because the hormones are raging, they've been through a traumatic life-altering event, and they haven't slept in days. Well done for writing this and lets hope this campaign really gets things moving #blogcrush

  18. So sorry to hear what an upsetting experience you had. I'm really surprised that no one came to help you that first night! Like you say it must be so hard for the maternity ward too as they are so understaffed. I sincerely hope things do change for the better. #KCACOLS


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