Sophie Palmer* believes the birth of her first child was much more painful than it needed to be. Allergic to painkillers, she had requested a water birth. But on the day she went into labour, her wishes were “ignored”.
Sophie, who did not want us to use her real first name because her family work at the hospital, was 20 years old at the time.
At a first glance, this might not sound like anything out of the ordinary – after all, at this age you are entitled to vote, join the army, and are likely to have left home. But, as the average age of mothers continues to rise, she is in the minority.
Her relative youth is the reason she thinks her birth plan – an official document which lets expectant mothers specify what they would like to happen during their labour – was completely disregarded.
“Because I was only 20, I wasn’t respected and my instinct wasn’t trusted,” she said. “I was telling the midwives for hours that I felt I was in full labour. They just kept telling me I wasn’t and I had a lot more to come.
“After about four hours of me begging them to check how dilated I was, they finally gave in and checked. I was fully dilated and had to be rushed down to the delivery suite and my daughter was born 20 minutes later.”
The delay in treatment meant there was no time for Sophie to have the water birth she specifically requested to ease her pain.
“I had an entire appointment dedicated to sorting a birth plan,” she continued, “it was such a big thing, but the midwives at the hospital weren’t interested in it at all. I really wanted a water birth, but because they wouldn’t listen to me, it was too late by the time they did.”
Her NHS Trust has been approached for comment.