The women had to give birth in the resting room without access to painkillers. – We must be ready to experience this again, says the clinic director.
– I was left with a shock. Things don’t always turn out the way you imagined them, but that’s another thing. I will never give birth here in Tromsø again, says Vilborg Irene Ström (32).
Earlier this summer, iTromsø wrote about Wild conditions in the maternity ward At UNN, where 39 babies were born in one week. At most there were nine births at the same time. With only four delivery rooms and essential staff in place, many women had to give birth where there was room and without pain relief.
iTromsø spoke to four women who were born into the chaos. They talk about the desperate midwives, the constant running down the hallways, the shrieks of pain and screaming babies through all the doors, even from the CTG room and the resting room, the fear of what might happen if something goes wrong, and the feeling of being completely alone in a maddening pain that is literally terrifying.
You are at risk of developing pregnancy depression after the birth you had. It’s a bit scary to think about. I hope the hospital understands the seriousness of this. Something has to change, Strom says.
Read the clinic director’s response to the criticism in more detail in the case.
She herself is a nurse at UNN, and was one of nine women who gave birth on Wednesday, July 26, two days after she started after 14 days of overtime.
– I was told several times that I was given lower priority because they were so busy. I experienced forgetfulness several times, it could take 45 minutes of call time for someone to come over. At night, when I was lying alone with severe pain, I was terribly afraid. I thought about what would happen if something urgent happened.
Heavy labor in the twins’ room
All delivery rooms were full, and thus Straume had to be in a regular double room from start to finish. It ended in a crash on Wednesday morning. She says she asked several times for an epidural, but no one had time to come.
– Standing in so much pain in there without the nitrous oxide or anything was absolutely awful. And after giving birth my bleeding didn’t stop, and I had to be hauled through crowded corridors to the outpatient clinic for examination.
– I did not understand what was happening and was very afraid. When I think about the past, I don’t feel justified or safe at all. To be allowed to give birth in the delivery room, where you have everything you need in case something urgent happens, I don’t think it’s asking for much.
Strom maintains that she has nothing to complain about the midwives.
– I don’t blame them. I saw how desperate they were and it was sad to see them. And I understand that you should be in the place where it burns the most. However, this was not a one-time event, UN Network knew this wave was coming. You wonder what it would take for them to see the seriousness of this.
I have an ice bucket on my stomach
Everyone ran, but no one walked. If this had been my first birth, I would have been terrified. I lay in the living room for a day and a half and heard a lot of howling, and I realized that I was in no hurry. However, since my water broke, I’ve had to take antibiotics every eight hours. It was up to me to take care of it and order it, says Ingeborg Rist, 30.
She was in labor for the second time when her water broke a month before her due date and she was admitted – to the day room.
– It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever been a part of. They were in a hurry. It took 40 minutes for someone to come when I hit the emergency button, sometimes no one came at all. There was a lot of waiting. For the pain, I was given a bucket of ice cubes to hold in my stomach to distract me from the contractions.
I delivered a premature baby in the fetal heart monitor room
Rist ended up giving birth in the fetal heart monitor, a small room completely unsuitable for childbirth.
– When, after five pills, I began active labor, I was wheeled into a small examination room to check if everything was in order with the baby. Then I suddenly felt the contractions picking up violently, and then the demanding midwife realized that “shit”, I was going to deliver a premature baby right there. Then I sounded the alarm, says Rist.
Two midwives came running.
– They’ve just managed to pick up equipment that can help babies with breathing difficulties, which premature babies are most vulnerable to. Fortunately, we didn’t have to use it. Fortunately, the midwives were very competent, so I didn’t cry even though it happened very quickly, says Rist.
Since she was born before, she herself understood where she was in the process. Rest felt safe the whole way.
– The midwives were present and very good when the take off actually took place. They said there is a whole crisis there every summer, but this summer was the worst yet. They said going to work was terrible because they didn’t have enough. They don’t have time to talk to those who are giving birth, or to give instructions or information about breastfeeding, she says and adds:
– The fact that childbirth and maternity care is cut off at the same time as women giving birth in the aisle and there are aberrations after aberrations, it really amazes me.
No one should give birth in the restroom
Julie Stromberg, 33, gave birth to twins early Tuesday, just hours before everything exploded off the hinges.
– I felt very cared for during the birth, it was very beautiful, so I have nothing to complain about. Fortunately, because it was necessary for me to give birth to the twins in a room that was not suitable for this. But no one should give birth in the restroom, Stromberg says and continues:
– I think of the one who gave birth for the first time under those circumstances, terrified and uncertain, in excruciating pain. It makes me really angry and upset, says Stromberg.
– Should someone die?
She gave birth for the second time and is now a mother of three. Because babies were born before three weeks, they should be given breast milk replacer every three hours and the dose should be increased each time. This was not the case.
– I had to make sure they got food, and ring the bell. It took a long time before someone came, and I heard the screams and understood why.
But the doses were not increased, and fortunately an experienced childcare worker found out the next day.
– It goes well, but it shouldn’t be. It’s not reassuring at all, Stromberg says, and continues:
– I was really provoked when I read the statements to the clinic director. I think he steps on the midwives by patting them on the back and saying good job. It is indecent to work in such conditions, and it is completely unacceptable for women to have to give birth in this way. What does it take for something to happen? Should children and mothers die?
– I felt very insecure
Mathilde Stang Gudmundsen (24) gave birth in the dining room at UNN.
– It was a complete mess and I felt very insecure. There were no rooms available, and I changed rooms from the lunch room to the CTG room and then the day room before finally getting a room on the maternity ward.
– I asked if I would give birth without pain relief, and when they said they didn’t know, I got very nervous. I’ve given birth once before, and it was painful enough with the nitrous oxide, so to speak, says Gudmundsen.
Isn’t it impossible to live with?
She was lucky and the delivery room became available two hours before the baby was due.
– I’ve heard women giving birth in all kinds of rooms and feel so sorry for them. Especially those who were giving birth for the first time. They must be left with a shock now. Mathilde says they were forced to deal with a pain that was truly impossible to deal with.
– I must emphasize that the midwives really did their best, and during the birth itself I felt cared for. But I’m shocked at the state of things, she adds, and provoked by the fact that we just have to accept it.
Be prepared for this to happen again
“It’s very unfortunate that many women who give birth are left to their own devices, but situations like this are something we unfortunately have to be willing to experience again,” says Clinic Director at the Clinic for Cancer Surgery and Women’s Health, Rolv-Ole Lindsetmo.
He says there will continue to be peaks where there are more births than midwives.
– It’s not the experience we want to provide, but we have to prioritize it. In some situations, pregnancy is dangerous for both the mother and the baby, hence we have to prioritize meeting the expectations of a healthy pregnant woman. He says we have to do this to save lives.
What is required for change to occur?
– If you had a simple answer to that, we probably wouldn’t be in this situation. In the long run, more nurses will have to get midwifery training, but we are also short of nurses.
Lower expectations than before
Lindsetmo says there aren’t enough healthcare workers trained to meet people’s expectations of healthcare.
Before, you had no other expectations than that you had to come and give birth and then go home. As it is now, expectations are much higher, and broken expectations are harder to deal with, he says and continues:
Politicians must stop creating expectations that are not met in terms of either resources or employment.
Lindestmo says he is well aware that many have been frightened, and have gone through a very different birth than they expected. However he states that the offer was justified.
– You can never discuss a person’s experience in a situation, this is his experience and you cannot object to it. But as healthcare professionals, it is our job to ensure that life-threatening injuries and accidents are avoided. And when you face as much stress as we do, you have to prioritize.
The children died unexpectedly
The University Hospital of Northern Norway (UNN) said in a press release on Monday that a baby boy died unexpectedly in connection with delivery at 42 weeks of gestation in the hospital.
– This is primarily a tragic event for the family and others involved. We’re reviewing the case thoroughly, but we want to wait for the state director’s final outcome before making any further statements, department head Ingard Nielsen at UNN Women’s Clinic says in the news release.
The accident occurred at 30 weeks, which according to the hospital was a difficult period in the maternity ward. It is not yet possible to say whether death can be linked to this.
The hospital itself reported the matter to the Norwegian Health Authority and the police.
The Norwegian Health Authority has now referred the case to the country manager, who will assess how to follow up on the case.
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