Friday, 29 December 2017

Giving Birth at Pyeongtaek St. Mary's: Emergency C-section

It's been a year since I woke up from an emergency C-section at Pyeongtaek St. Mary's. As I mentioned in my other post I had planned on a peaceful home birth with Danica and Jinny from Mama's Birth Center. I had written about my birthing experience on one of my private blogs but since I recently made that blog public, I decided to publish it here as well.

My first birth was at Agitanseun Natural Birth Center (김옥진조산원) Kim Ok Jin (Rosa) at her old location in Ansan. Since then I had gotten involved in the natural birthing community and become a childbirth educator, postpartum doula, breastfeeding counselor, Dunstan Baby Language Educator, and La Leche League Leader. I felt confident in my abilities to give birth naturally and had planned on a home birth.

Unfortunately, it ended up with an emergency C-section. For those who say I shouldn't have attempted a home birth, I totally disgree. Had I been in the hospital during labor, I'm sure I would have had a much shorter labor before they did major abdominal surgery that left me with a 5.5 inch scar from the C-section. Labor is beneficial for both the mom and the baby.

I had a lot of difficulties coming to terms with it, especially since I 100% believe that the interventions led to the C-section, with pitocin most likely being the cause of it. It turned into a horrific nightmare. Yes, the baby's heart rate was at 90 when I was transferred to the hospital, but it then dropped to 60 while there. My midwife refused to give me pitocin because it can increase or decrease a baby's heart rate. I believe that had they not given me pitocin, I could have had a vaginal birth.  The information has been copied from my other blog, Stay Inside Baby!

Transferred to Pyeongtaek St. Mary's
Around 7pm her heart rate dropped to 90 (the norm is 120-180) so they transferred me to Pyeongtaek St. Mary's. I was only 4cm dilated but it felt like I was in transition.To make it worse the baby had just gone up a station. I had asked if I could wait an hour, but they said no. My neighbor came over and helped frantically pack a bag to go to the hospital.

I think going in they wanted me to get a C-section. I was given an epidural, oxygen, pitocin, antibiotics (since I had a cough and runny nose), fluids, and a catheter. I had an EKG test and multiple NSTs. I was not allowed to eat or drink anything. I was allowed to move but with IVs in both my arms plus a catheter, movement was very limited.

My doula and midwife came with, but the doctor quickly kicked them out. Luckily, Mary the nurse was on call that night and she was familiar with my case. My doctor, Dr. Lee was also there, but he didn't perform the C-section. 

I am fully convinced that them hooking me up to pitocin caused her heart rate to drop. My midwife had pitocin and refused to give it to my. Why? Because it can cause a baby's heart rate to drop or go up dramatically. Had I not been given pitocin, I probably would have been able to have a vaginal birth.

They bullied my husband into signing the papers by saying the baby could end up dead. The reason the baby's heart rate was dropping was due to pitocin and all the stress they were putting me through. They should have taken me off pitocin. I wish I had had advocates for me there, but they had kicked my midwife and doula out. This was my second birth and I had planned it well, yet all the interventions got out of hand, as they usually do.

Frantic Birth Plan
When I realised the baby was going to be born soon, I started telling them what I wanted and didn't want. I didn't have a birth plan because I hadn't planned on giving birth in a hospital. I was told that immediately after the birth I would be able to hold her and breastfeed her, so I said no formula. True to their word, they did not give her formula: they gave her sugar water. I wasn't able to hold her for 13 hours, not because she wasn't ok, but because I was unconscious and had IVs in my arm. I said delayed cord clamping, but that didn't happen either. They didn't bath her, but they sure scrubbed all the vernix off her.

Emergency C-section
Her heart rate dropped to 60 (the norm is 120-180) and then they gave me a spinal and took me to the OR. In the OR they gave me something in my IV that made me unconscious. My husband was not allowed in. She was born on her due date at 11:39pm. They briefly stopped the drip that kept me unconscious. I remember seeing the coiled cord in the bucket before I saw her. They didn't do delayed cord clamping like I had asked. Her APGARs were 8 and 9. She had a flat head on top which makes me think she was brow presenting which would explain the small measurements and failure to progress.

Afterwards I was unable to move or open my eyes for about 5 hours. I could hear what was going on around me though. I was flat on my back for 8 hours in order to prevent a spinal headache. When I woke up I had short-term amnesia. I thought I was in Peru with my ex. I left Peru almost 6 years ago. 13 hours after the C-section they took the catheter out and I was able to walk. Contrast that to my first birth where I walked out of the birthing center 8 hours after giving birth.

I was given antacids, antibiotics, and pain killer pills three times a day. I really don't think they helped. I ended up with 2 ketoralac shots 8 hours apart on the second day because the pain was so bad.

I was alone so I had to do everything myself, like bus my food trays four times a day and walk to the nursery. The food was decent. I got three meals plus a snack. I was able to choose between Korean food and Western food. I decided to go with Korean food since I knew that the cooks could cook Korean food. I certainly didn't eat everything. I didn't really like the food, so my daughter and husband got some. There wasn't much fruit. I think I got fruit once or twice, so my husband brought me some.

Amazing Nurses
I really didn't enjoy my recovery time at Pyeongtaek St. Mary's. However, the nurses and international clinic were amazing. Mary and Luna helped me fight against some of the policies and worked with me even though they might not have agreed with what I wanted. They helped me breastfeed without taking the class, breastfeed on demand, got the baby into my room, got me discharged early, and allowed visitors outside of visiting hours. 

Not Being Allowed to Hold the Baby
I still hadn't held my daughter. I was told that it was hospital policy that while I had an IV in my arm I couldn't hold her. They wanted to keep me on morphine, fluids, and antiobiotics for 1 day and then do 2 more days of antibiotics for my upper respiratory infection (aka the common cold).

Meaning that if I followed what they wanted, I would be able to hold her on the 4th day. I'd be free to look at her through the windows though. I told them to stop the morphine and fluids and that I didn't want antibiotics. I'm not sure if you've ever been suddenly taken off IV painkillers and given Motrin instead, but let me save you the trouble about imagining what it's like and tell you that headache medicine does not help when they've put a 5.5 inch incision into your lower stomach. It just doesn't work. They took all the IVs and catheter out and then I was taken to the nursery.

Being Told I Wasn't Allowed to Breastfeed
I was shown the baby through the glass and when I asked to breastfeed her, remember, it's been a little over 13 hours and all she's had was sugar water, I was told no. Why? I'm glad you asked! I had to take a class before I was allowed to breastfeed. Thankfully, Mary was there and told them that this was my second child, I'd breastfed my first until she was 4, I actually teach breastfeeding classes, and I was one of two La Leche League Leaders in Korea. After about 10 minutes of arguing how I was able to breastfeed, they finally "permitted" me to hold her.

Let me just tell you that the "class" they teach must be pretty crappy. All women were given nipple shields and they all used them, they "cut" their breasts instead of used C or U holds, and they were leaning forward.

Where Babies Can Stay
You had two choices about where the baby would stay: the nursery or your room. You couldn't take the baby to your room and then put them back in the nursery. Since it took me about 15 minutes to walk 10 feet (remember Motrin to recover from a C-section), I could barely take care of myself, so she stayed in the nursery. The first night she was in the nursery and my husband spent the night with me. The second night she was in the nursery and my husband was at home. The third night, we finally got her in my room and my husband spent the night with me.

If they're in the nursery, you're "allowed" to feed them 5 times a day for 30 minutes each. Five. They actually listed 6 times on the information sheet in the nursery, but I was told it's really 5. This is only for breastfeeding moms. So if you breastfeed, you get to spend a total of 2.5 hours a day with your baby. Yeah, that's healthy. If you aren't breastfeeding and would like to hold your baby, you either take your baby to your room or wait until you get home. Lovely.

Now, in order for a baby to be healthy and a mom not to lose her milk supply, a baby should eat a minimum of 8-12 times a day. Let's do the math. . . 12 divided by 5 means they're letting you feed the baby less than half of what is required for a baby to thrive. Thriving isn't just about nutrition, it's about touch. 2.5 hours a day with their moms, definitely not a healthy environment. Now let me just explain that all these rules are for normal, healthy babies. They're not in the NICU, they're not sick, they're totally health.

Of course, they could supplement the baby with formula or breastmilk in the bottle, but if you're trying to breastfeed, bottle feeding just isn't helping. Yet another reason why their breastfeeding "class" is crap.

I was pumping. My husband brought my pump since their pump "wasn't working" Fantastic, right? On Friday, I decided that I'd had enough and told them I wanted to be called every time she was hungry. They called me about every hour. It was horrible. It was hard enough walking to the bathroom, now I had to go downstairs (in the elevator, but still) about every hour. Thankfully, I knew my husband was coming that night and we were going to get her into our room. 

Having the Baby in Your Room
The third night (Friday) we finally got the baby to our room. No easy task. We had to sign a few papers, all in Korean, no idea what we signed. And even then they didn't want to hand our own child over to us.

We had to keep the room at a minimum of 26 degrees (78.8 F), but they preferred 28 degrees (82.4 F). We had to fill out a paper saying how often she peed, pooped, and ate. That paper was checked by a nurse at night and in the morning.

My Husband's Accommodations
No pillows or blankets are given for dads. Just a gym mat. We asked and again were told that it was against hospital policy. I was sweating so I gave him my blanket.

Dads are only allowed 30 minutes a day with their babies and that's from 8-8:30pm. Moms aren't allowed in during that time. There are no exceptions. My husband decided to keep working while I was in the hospital because then he could get 14 days off in a row. Plus, why waste days when I was in the hospital? And someone had to take care of my first child.

He missed the birth, but saw her through the glass before I got to see her because they knocked me unconscious. I got to hold her, but he didn't. He never got to bond with her during those first two days. He was about ten feet away, looking at me when I breastfed, but was told it was "against hospital policy" for him to hold his own child.

Trying to Leave the Hospital
When went in on a Wednesday night and were told 5 days, which meant that we were supposed to leave on Sunday since they counted Wednesday as day 1. Then we were told if we left on a Sunday, we would be charge 50% more since the accounting staff wasn't working and they weren't sure of the exact charges. What they'd do is overcharge us and then on Monday we would come back and sort everything out.

I'd had quite enough of the hospital policies, so decided to try to leave early. On Thursday, we asked to leave early. They said no. Imagine that. Even though both of us were perfectly healthy. On Friday, in the morning, after we got the baby into our room, we then informed them that we were leaving the next day. They tried to talk us out of it. Got a nurse, a doctor, acted very concerned. We politely insisted.

Saturday morning around 7am, I was given the ok. It took them about 4 hours to finally discharge us. We had to pay and get meds, which consisted of antacid, pain killers (yea Motrin, totally not enough), and antibiotics for my upper respiratory infection (common cold). But we finally left 2.5 days after arriving.

A c-section is major abdominal surgery. They are necessary at times, but when 33% of women given birth are given them, you know they're taking advantage of the situation. Interventions are the #1 reason why I tell people to pick a good place to give birth. Here's what was done to us in the 2.5 days we stayed. There might have been more, but this is what I can think of now.

In Labor
  • Epidural
  • Oxygen
  • Pitocin
  • Antibiotics
  • Fluids
  • Catheter
  • EKG test
  • Multiple NSTs
  • Not allowed to eat or drink anything
The Birth
  • Being knocked unconscious for the C-section
  • Immediate cord clamping
  • Rubbing off the vernix
After the Birth
  • 5 hours being unconscious
  • Amnesia
  • 13 hours flat on my back
  • Baby being given sugar water 
  • Baby in the nursery
  • Being told I wasn't allowed to breastfeed
  • Only being able to hold the baby five times a day for 30 minute at a time 
  • Antacids, antibiotics, and pain killer pills twice a day 
  • 2 ketoralac shots
  • Husband not allowed to hold the baby until day 3
Complications Afterwards
11 days after the baby was born, my left breast was super hot and painful. I had no energy, just wanted to sleep and had a slight fever. I went to the ER at Osan AB and was told my WBC (white blood cell count) was 19,000 and the norm is supposed to be about  4,500-11,000. They did loads of tests: blood, urine, breastmilk, nose mucus, ultrasound on my breasts, temperature checks, blood pressure, and possibly more but I can't remember.

I was diagnosed with mastitis, which I fully believe was due to Pyeongtaek St. Mary's only allowing me to breastfeed 5 times a day.

The doctor originally wanted me to put me on meds, but I was allergic. His number two choice was to stop breastfeeding for 2-3 days while they dripped antibiotics into me. No thanks. Stopping is the worst thing you can do. They admitted me and the baby overnight and gave me antibiotics. My husband stayed with me the first night because I was still recovering from my C-section. They decided on day 2 that I should stay another night. We hadn't wanted to since that would mean missing the baby's appointment to get her passport, but my WBC was still high, so the baby and I stayed another night. My husband wasn't able to stay because we didn't have anyone to take care of my daughter. I left on the 3rd day. The next day they called me and told me I had a mild case of MRSA that I had caught while at the hospital (since I didn't have it when I went in) but that I wouldn't need treatment.

Final Thoughts
Although I loved the prenatal care I got there I would not recommend birthing there. Here's a list of places around Korea and here are 6 birthing centers in and around Seoul.

I know some people say that all that matters is that you have a healthy baby, but I don't believe that at all so please don't say that to me. I planned for a peaceful home birth and ended up with everything I didn't want plus complications afterwards. With all the difficulties we had with miscarriages, this complicated pregnancy, and a nightmare birth, we have decided that we are done with having kids.

Tender Embrace Birthing offers childbirth, breastfeeding, and newborn care classes and support.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Privacy Policy and FTC Disclosure

Please read Tender Embrace Birthing's Privacy Policy and FTC Disclosure