A first-time mother’s difficult experience
I am writing to highlight my experience on the maternity ward at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital.
Little more than a year ago, I became a first-time mother to my baby boy. After a long labour, which resulted in an unplanned Caesarean section, I was understandably exhausted and overwhelmed. The three days that followed proved to be a much more difficult experience for several reasons.
First, I was constantly interrupted throughout the day and night to be injected with needles and given pain and anti-inflammatory pills. While I understand that these were provided for my health and safety, I often had to ask what I was being given and was rarely told when I would be interrupted again for my next dose.
Then there was the breastfeeding. While a few maternity nurses tried to be helpful, it was obvious that they did not really know how, or have the time, to get my baby to latch on properly.
As long as my baby was latched and feeding, there was no real concern if it was painful or uncomfortable for me.
Had it not been for the help of a lactation consultant, I might have thrown in the towel on breastfeeding.
Then came the crying. I didn’t know it at the time, but this was the beginning of my yearlong struggle with postnatal depression.
Nurses came and went, and not one seemed to take any genuine interest in my constant crying. I felt confused, alone, a prisoner in those four walls of my maternity room.
For a place that is meant to bring such joy and happiness, the maternity ward at KEMH was a place of misery for me.
Sadly, similar experiences are not uncommon among other mothers who have had their babies there.
It begs the question: why was not more done for these women?
Why isn’t there a dedicated hospital lactation consultant to help mothers with breastfeeding?
Why are nurses or other hospital personnel not trained to ask questions when they see mothers constantly crying or showing other signs of postnatal depression?
Why are new mothers not told during their hospital stay where to seek help for issues such as faecal and urinary incontinence, diastasis recti and pelvic floor difficulties?
Becoming a mother, especially for the first time, is difficult enough, so the first few days of that experience should be filled with meaningful care, support and education.
I did not find this to be the case on the KEMH maternity ward.
I hope that sharing my experience and the questions raised here will start a conversation, particularly among the KEMH administration, so that effective changes can be made to give better care to mothers on the maternity ward.
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