Q: “Things went horribly wrong with the birth of my third child. Because he was lying diagonally, he became stuck in deep transverse arrest. I’m now expecting another baby and I’m very nervous. Is there anyone I contact to discuss the last birth and can I get a copy of what was recorded by the hospital?”
A: I’m sorry to hear that you had such a hard time during your last labour.
I think it would be an excellent idea to find out exactly what happened last time. Provided the birth was after November 1991, you have the legal right to see the medical/midwifery records. However, rather than simply read through what was written (which may not tell you what you want to know), it may be best to arrange a meeting with your obstetrician specifically to review events and discuss why the problems occurred, and what might be done next time to prevent them happening again.
If you’re not planning to have this baby in the same place as the last one, you can still get a copy of your old records from your previous hospital, and show these to your present obstetrician or midwife. Contact the medical records department at the hospital where you gave birth and explain what you want. You may be charged an administration fee.
Deep transverse arrest is one of several possible consequences of the baby starting labour in the ‘posterior’ position, with his or her back lying against the mother’s back, so s/he is facing forwards. In this position, the baby’s head doesn’t fit into the pelvis so well, and labour may be long, painful and complicated.
There are several things that you can do to encourage your baby to adopt the more favourable ‘anterior’ position, with his or her back lying against your front, in this pregnancy. Although these things aren’t backed by scientific research, many experienced midwives feel that they make good physiological sense, and it won’t do any harm to try them! You can find information about them in the answer for Question: Back surgery and labour.
You may also find it helpful to attend some preparation for labour classes, to review different positions for labour and ways of coping with b contractions. Keeping mobile and upright can make a big difference to the way labour progresses, and the support of a positive and experienced midwife can help tremendously too. Good luck!
Hannah Hulme Hunter, Babyworld Midwife.