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Raising the Alarm on Obstetric Violence: Tasniem’s Story

I was scheduled to give birth at a clinic who deals with only natural labour and midwives I had given birth to my first there and had absolutely no problems. Unfortunately they had then moved me to a government hospital stating that my weight could possibly be of concern. I remember crying so much because I knew the hospital they were moving me to was horrible, I’ve heard the horror stories about this hospital but my husband kept trying to calm me down, telling me everything would be alright.

Saturday morning I started getting light contractions and it progressed throughout the night; in the early hours on Sunday my mucus plug came out. I was way more relaxed as this was my second child. The pains were much more tolerable then with my first. I told my husband I would until my contractions were close and the pain got worse to leave for the hospital because I didn’t want to wait around at the hospital given it’s reputation.

Once I felt strong enough labour pains my husband took me to casualty. Because of COVID he was not allowed in with me at all, all he could do was drop me at the entrance of casualty.

I was told to go to a screening tent which I did, they took my temperature and sanitized my hands. I then went to the entrance and was told by the security guard which floor to go to. I was in so much pain but had to carry my bags by myself walking and stopping every time a contraction came.

Upon arrival I was told to sit outside a little room which had 2 nurses/staff members. I waited about 20-25 minutes outside on a chair before I was told to come in. They asked me what was wrong I said I was in labour. They told me to go to the bathroom and pee, The bathrooms were disgusting and smelled so bad. They did a urine test and took my blood pressue and that was it, nobody examined me to see how far I was dilated or anything. I was then instructed to sit outside the labour ward on a bench until I felt pressure and then I should tell a nurse. In the next 10 minutes I felt pressure and went inside the ward. All the beds were full and there were also ladies sitting on chairs.

I found a nurse and told her I feel pressure the baby is coming. Annoyed, she started looking for a bed to have me checked. She couldn’t find one, I was following her for about 10 minutes until she found one. At this point he was coming out and I was in severe pain. All the time she was extremely casual and has no sense of urgency.

She asks me to get onto the bed and I say I can’t I’m in too much pain and the baby is coming out. I asked her to please help me, she starts screaming at me and shouting to get on the bed. I’m telling her I can’t she’s shouting and screaming at me saying there’s nothing like I can’t only that I don’t want to, she’s pulling me and pushing me. Finally I get on the bed she says take off your clothes and your panty I say again I can’t I am in pain and trying to keep the baby in, she starts screaming and saying so who is supposed to take it off where do you think you are!? Take off your damn pants and panty or fine then you will kill your baby it’s your problem.

I could not keep the baby any more and naturally the pressure and my body pushes him out. She continues screaming and shouting and yelling at me, at this point I started yelling at her too asking why she is treating me so badly. Still even after birthing my baby in my pants I’m struggling to take off my own pants and panty finally I manage to take it off and the baby and whatever water and blood just comes flooding out.

At this point she’s still screaming and shouting another nurse comes and takes my baby, wipes him down and puts him on my chest and says it’s a boy. I start crying hysterically in disbelief of what just happened.

Then she starts tugging and pulling at the cord of my placenta as it’s not coming out, I’m screaming in pain telling her please you’re hurting me, to which she responds stop being so dramatic it’s not as painful as labour. She then gives me an injection and says it should help to release the placenta and starts tugging again. She then tells me to get off the bed and walk across the room to another bed and gives me a sheet to cover myself I can barely walk but I did as she said. When I got to the other bed she had gone somewhere else and the placenta just fell out on the floor. Some of the other woman saw how it fell out and started calling for her to assist me, she took her own time and then realized that there was still placenta remaining inside of me. She told me to open my legs or I would bleed to death.

She kept putting her full hand in and out of my vagina while pulling out whatever was remaining, at this point all I could do was lay there and cry, beg and pray for gods mercy. She did this about roughly 10 times if not more, continuously shouting at me to stop being so dramatic and that she would stop and I would die if I continued crying.

Once she was satisfied that everything was out she asked me if I wanted to be stitched, shocked I said what do you mean if I want to? I asked her. She said you have a choice. I then asked her if I had torn and if it was necessary for me to get stitched which she said yes. I then said well then yes please stitch me. It felt as if this nightmare wouldn’t end. She started wiping my vagina vigorously and pulling and stretching it saying she can’t see I felt like I was going to pass out at this point. She completed 2 stitches and then said haai I’m stopping now because I can’t see anything, bath in rough salt and you will heal. Immediately after I was told to go to the bathroom and clean myself up.

At this point I went to collect my bags which had still been outside on the bench and called my husband crying hysterically he managed to calm me down and I cleaned myself as much as I could as my legs were shaking and I was in pain the state of the bathroom were mind blowing, no hot water and blood everywhere, thank god I had wet wipes to clean up before I used it. I get back to the ward thinking I would now lay down and get some rest after the traumatic experience but no, I’m then told to get my stuff and breastfeed my child who I then see for the first time while sitting on a hard plastic chair.

I was then moved with baby to the admissions ward and thought I would be discharged but because of the amount of women that needed to be discharged before me they kept me the night. The nurses who did their rounds came to check me and once again she stuck her hands inside of me but this time she had a bit more sympathy and said she had to check and make sure that nothing was left inside of me because “they used to leaving stuff inside of patients”.

The nurses don’t help you one bit with your baby and during the day they refuse to let you get any sleep. The moment you want to doze off and get some rest they violently wake you up and say you’re not at a hotel.

There was a point where my baby was choking on phlegm and I couldn’t get him to breathe, I called for a nurse to help me and she just looking at me uninterested and signaled me to pat his back which I was already doing and thank god not long after he could breathe.

The nightshift nurses slept the entire night on their chairs and if your baby would cry they would shout and say keep your baby quiet why is the baby crying! Feed your baby!

The next morning we were woken up at 05:30 in the morning, knowing very well we had a rough night with the first night with our babies. The doctors would then come in and check all the mothers and the treatment from the doctors were the total opposite of the nurses. I couldn’t wait to get home. As soon as I was reunited with my family I balled my eyes out and was so thankful to be home.

I struggled with postnatal depression and I still struggle with the trauma I experienced. It haunts me. I felt like I was in a nightmare that just wouldn’t end, straight from a horror movie. I kept asking myself if this was a dream, this couldn’t possibly have happened to me.

My son will be 8 months soon, he is the happiest baby on earth. It just amazes me that he is such a happy baby yet he had been through so much trauma. If anything the horrible experience I went through has brought me closer to him.