020 7650 1200

Woman who experienced a traumatic birth tells her story to raise awareness

The Birth Trauma Association was founded 10 years ago and supports women and their partners following a traumatic labour

Posted on 20 August 2014

A woman who nearly died giving birth to her second child, after being denied a caesarean section, has told her story in a bid to make more women aware of the support available to them and their partners following a traumatic birth.

Anna Whitby, from London had her first child Freya in April 2009 and Samuel in 2011. Both births were traumatic and she is now hoping that by telling her story, more women will seek help.

Mrs Whitby’s account of her experiences comes as the Birth Trauma Association (BTA) celebrates its 10th Anniversary this August. The charity supports all women who have had a traumatic birth experience.

It is estimated that, in the UK alone, traumatic births could result in 10,000 women a year developing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Mrs Whitby’s first child, Freya, was a healthy baby, however, the birth had been traumatic and she continued to suffer from severe lower back pain following the delivery.

In early 2011 Mrs Whitby fell pregnant again and started having regular appointments at the antenatal clinic at St George’s Hospital in Tooting, London.

In light of her history of back pain and the traumatic birth of her first child, Mrs Whitby informed, first a midwife and then eventually her Consultant that she wanted an elective caesarean section birth.

However despite a series of discussions, and weeks of waiting, her request for an elective caesarean section was declined. On 3 November 2011 Mrs Whitby was admitted to the Delivery Suite at St George’s hospital.

In the early hours of the following day, 4 November 2011, Mrs Whitby was induced using the drug Syntocinon and she was given an epidural.  Unfortunately, the labour did not progress well resulting in another traumatic birth and an emergency caesarean. Mrs Whitby lost 2 litres of blood and required emergency medical attention before being placed in a high dependency unit.  Samuel Whitby was born at 13:40 on 4 November 2011. Samuel was also very poorly when he was born but fortunately recovered well.

Mrs Whitby continues to suffer physically and psychologically from her experiences. The emergency caesarean caused damage to her bladder and the memories from the birth continue to haunt her.

Anna Whitby said: “After the birth of Samuel I didn’t really know where to go, the fact that I had experienced a very traumatic birth, a significant bladder injury requiring numerous surgeries and interventions to repair and had a new baby to look after put me at my lowest ebb. It’s only through organisations like the Birth Trauma Association that women, and their partners, can realise they are not alone and seek help from the experiences of others.”

Emmalene Bushnell from law firm Leigh Day who represented Mrs Whitby in her claim against the hospital for her injuries, said:

“Giving birth should be a positive moment in the life of any woman.  The correct medical care and attention is essential as two lives are dependent on the right decisions being taken. 

“Those women who have suffered a traumatic birth should know that there is access to excellent peer support through the Birth Trauma Association and we congratulate it for its excellent work over the past 10 years.”

A representative from the Birth Trauma Association added:

“During a decade of activity, we have heard from countless women like Anna whose  birth experience has resulted in physical and/or psychological trauma. We are delighted that our support has made a difference in this case, but so many more women continue to suffer in silence and isolation. We are grateful to Anna for courageously sharing her story so that others may benefit from our information, advice and peer support.”