A Taupō woman forced to give birth to a stillborn child with no medical help at Rotorua Hospital is still suffering from PTSD six months on.

Jamie Bowman was left, with only her mum by her side, holding her dead baby for 25 minutes before they got help.

Eight days earlier Bowman had been for a scan which showed her baby boy's heart had stopped beating.

"I was 15 weeks and six days when I found out," she told the Rotorua Daily Post.

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"It was horrible."

Her Taupō-based midwife referred her to Rotorua Hospital to be given a pill to induce a late miscarriage.

"The first time we went to Rotorua Hospital was the day after we found out," she said.

"I thought they were going to do it then, but we ended up just being sent home."

On that visit hospital staff admitted her to the birthing unit, telling her she would need an additional scan to confirm the baby had died, but no scan was done.

"I didn't want to be sitting in the room where other people have their babies."

ROTORUA DAILY POST
25 Sep, 2018 10:00am
3 minutes to read

Instead, she and her mum were sent home and told to return the following week.

"It was a pretty awful time with him in my tummy for an entire week, knowing what had happened.

"I still don't understand why it couldn't have been dealt with sooner."

The next week, on March 7, she went into the hospital for the first pill and she said: "staff were a bit vague on things".

At 5.30am the following morning she woke up in a lot of pain.

"I had to wait for a friend to come and look after my son because he had to get to school.

"Then my mum and I made the trip to Rotorua and I went into full-blown labour in the car."

Her mum phoned ahead and asked the hospital to have a wheelchair ready for her because she wouldn't be able to walk, she said.

"They wheeled me up to the room and basically that was it, I had him and then for 20 to 25 minutes we were just alone there."

When her mum went into the corridor holding a bedpan with her "deceased baby and a lot of blood in it", she said staff told her they were busy and would be with her soon.

"Mum just couldn't understand why it wasn't important to anybody and she's been pretty messed up about the whole thing as well."

In a letter of complaint to Rotorua Hospital, Bowman said: "This whole ordeal was already such a sad, horrific thing to go through. I felt completely let down by the health system.

"Nobody cared at all about what I had gone through, nor was anyone willing to help. It is absolutely disgusting people can treat mothers this way and get away with it.

Bowman saw her GP shortly afterwards and was referred to grief counselling where she was told she was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

"I think they need to prioritise this stuff, I understand my baby had passed away, but it's not fair there was no one there to help us."

Bowman said there was no ability to heal or move on because she hadn't received the proper support.

"I'm definitely not going to just pretend it didn't happen and it's not okay for them to think they can treat people like that."

Lakes District Health Board quality, risk and clinical governance director Dr Sharon Kletchko said Bowman's treatment was being investigated.

"The complaint from this patient was immediately placed into Lakes DHB's complaints process," Kletchko said.

Kletchko said the investigation would involve both Bowman and her lead maternity carer.

"Clinicians involved in this patient's treatment are a critical part of the investigation process.

"Lakes DHB always regrets when patients do not have a good experience during their visit to one of our hospitals.

"We sincerely regret any distress for this patient and her partner."

A complaint has also been made to the Health and Disability Commission who has been in touch to organise a meeting.

Cathy Buntting from Sands Taupō, a support group for mothers and families who have experienced the death of a baby, said Bowman had reached out to the support group.

She said Bowman's story was "very traumatic".

"Delivery of a stillborn baby is traumatic and distressing and the woman involved is often very vulnerable.

"While things can go medically and physically smoothly, psychologically there can be lasting impacts, including symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder."

Families reached out to Sands for a number of reasons and Buntting said it was an opportunity to be understood.

"For some, unbelievably, the birth of a stillborn baby can still be a positive experience when it has the care which is needed.

"However there is still the reality when you get home to a life you weren't expecting it becomes really important to have others around you."

She said it was an ongoing process, learning to live with a new normal and for Jamie, she was still having to deal with the trauma of the birth.

"Delivery wards are busy places and medical needs of patients are necessarily prioritised, but it's distressing to hear her story of delivering a stillborn baby on her own.

"I don't think she was intentionally left, but now that's something she's continuing to process."

Buntting said there were a lot of women who had positive birth experiences in Rotorua but questions needed to be asked about staffing levels.

"Whether it's your first baby or your sixth, giving birth is a terrifying experience.

"It is an incredibly traumatic experience, but with the right care and support it can ease that trauma."