Thursday 9 August 2012

My Rude Midwife and Poor Maternity Care in East London

I want to see my midwife this week and it was not the most reassuring experience.  Despite turning up on time and waiting patiently, when I finally went in she said “I was just about to go, I thought you were not coming?”  I smiled and told her we had been outside the whole time.

Maybe it was a case of start as you meant to go on for her.  I found her surly, completely uninterested and detached.  She did not smile, she didn’t seem to want to tell me what she was doing, I had to keep asking about my diabetes test before she confirmed it was normal.

She even handed me back my urine test and told me to reuse the bottle next time. For some reason that really annoyed me – what was I supposed to do?  Carry pee around in my bag for the rest of the day?  When it comes to maternity care, I have always just taken whatever treatment had been meted out.

This has been a mixture of caring midwives who reassure you and give good advice and those with a bad attitude who speak to you as if you are dirt.  I am not sure if it is the hijab that makes people think I must be illiterate or cannot speak English, or if it is just people’s bad attitudes that make them think they can speak to me however the want.  I often suspect it is a mix of both.

I remember when I went for a scan for my second child and asked if the nurse could be a woman.  The lady at reception was furious with me and told me “this is England you know” i.e. who do you think you are expecting different treatment.  I went outside cried, came back and asked again and was moved to a different slot with a female nurse. That experience permanently made maternity care feel like a stressful experience for me, leaving me always expecting the worse.

When I had my youngest, I had to stay in the hospital while his jaundice was treated.  It was one of the worst experiences I have ever had.  I felt vulnerable and worried for my baby who was also suffering from a dislocated shoulder.  I had the doctor telling me to keep the baby under the lights to get treatment for jaundice.  Every time I put him down, the nurse would come in and tell me off for not picking him up and feeding him when he cried, asking me if I didn’t care about my baby.  I would pick him up to feed him and the doctor would come back and accuse me of not letting the baby get better by keeping him under lights.  The two tag-teamed all night to make my life a misery.  I tried to tell them what the other was saying to no effect.  You can imagine I was relieved to get home.

My aunty recently had a caesarean after a very difficult pregnancy.  She literally could not move from her bed for two days and was in pain.  Her requests for help with nappies and for milk for her baby were either ignored or treated with impatience.  Previously to that she had stopped going to hospital appointments and to her last scan because all the doctors seemed to tell her about was the likelihood of disability as she was over 40 and the option of abortion.  Mash’Allah she was eventually blessed with a beautiful, sweet, sleepy, perfectly healthy little girl.

So the indifferent midwife with her can’t-be-bothered attitude was nothing new.  What is new is that I have no tolerance left for such behaviour.  I regret not picking her up on her poor attitude.   I think for too long I have been scared of being blacklisted or refused treatment for questioning the way I have been treated.  I think I am past caring now.  It’s a shame women have to fight these kinds of battles when they are at their most vulnerable.  But as I said to one lady who was asking me what she should do when she felt as if her doctor wasn’t listening to he: as mothers we fight for our children their whole lives, so we have to before they are born too, making sure they get the care and we get the reassurance we need.

I think I might call up today and ask if I can have a different midwife.  If not, the next time, I will ask the midwife if she has a problem with me or if I am wasting her time.

As an aside, when a very nice doctor at the local hospital asked me where I wanted to give birth, I rejected the bright shiny new hospital a few miles up the road for the local one which is only slightly less rubbish, saying “I’d rather not die giving birth thank you”.  She raised her eyebrows and agreed I would not be a priority there.  Seems I was not exaggerating.  This report is on my local NHS maternity service mentions the deaths of two women in the maternity ward due to negligence: CQC Criticises East London Trust over maternity Services.  And also this: CQC report into North East London Hospital Trust which mentions: “Problems found in maternity services included poor clinical care; abusive and unprofessional behaviour from staff; an absence of learning from maternal deaths and incidents; and poor leadership from senior management.”


  1. Oh God!! This makes me Sad!! :(
    No matter What...keep Praying For the Best dear!!
    Because even if you can't control anything..Allah sure Can control everything!! InshaAllah everything happens for Good!! And He will take care of you and your Babies!! :)


  2. Assalam alaikum sis,
    I am so sad to hear of more bad maternity experiences. I'm currently expecting baby no2 this month. My last appointment left me so frustrated and annoyed. The doctor was dissmissive from the moment I walked in and couldn't wait to get me out. Despite it being a special appointment made to discuss a potentially life threatening illness the baby could contract. She was ready to pass me off to a midwife because by the midwifes own admission 'the doctors being lazy'. I had been waiting over an hour. I'm not even going to get into being stuck in hospital for a week with baby no1 only to find out I wasn't offered the needed treatment because 'most women of my ethnicity reject it'. I am not even the ethnicity they assumed!

    1. Salaam Sister,
      It's terrible that we have to worry about poor care from the people we should be able to trust.

      I will be making dua for you and for all expectant mothers insh'Allah. Please remember me in your dua's.

  3. You quoted : "...abusive and unprofessional behaviour from staff..."

    Assalaamu alaikum,


    Please do not attribute the ugliness of some people to your hijab. Some peopl just don't know how to act with anyone!

    1. Salaaam Sister Khadija,
      maybe you are right. I am used to people looking at my abayah and hijab and assuming I can't speak English. Where I live has a significant immigrant population from South Asia and many of the women cannot speak English, I don't know if this is what contributes to hospital staff thinking they have carte blanche to treat people badly.

      I remember, when I had my youngest, nurses making fun of Roma women and shouting at them not to have any more children. So maybe it is more to do with language? Or as you say, some people just don't know how to treat people.

  4. Assalamu 'Alaikum Sister,

    I feel so disheartened after hearing the way you have been treated and how your pregnancy experiences have been. I do agree with the fact that good maternity care is decreasing as the years pass. I do not have any children, infact I am not even married lol, but having been with my sister throughout both her pregnancies, I absolutely understand the ignorance some midwives can display. My sister had her first child aged 18 and the midwives looked down on her as another teenage statistic. They found it hard to believe that she had been happily married. The nurses at the hospital had treated her with disrespect and offered no help on how to breastfeed or when changing needed to be done to the baby. The constant shouting and abusive comments were so shocking, my sister ended up complaining when she had been discharged from the hospital.(Btw, she also gave birth in an East London hospital) At the time of her birth there were so many complications and the nurses called the doctor late which resulted in my nephew actually getting severely ill. The second time round though, Alhumdulillah, my sister had an amazing midwife at the hospital who was infact muslim, we weren't aware of this until my bro-in-law requested to allow the Adhaan to be prayed in my nephews ears. She was lovely and didn't mind the fact that there were many family members leaving and entering the room. Not only did she help put my sister at ease, she offered support and reminded her about the blessing Allaah had given her. I pray that Insha'Allaah you are treated well during your pregnancy and that you have an easy birth!
    Take Care,
    Maymoonah xx

    1. Salaam Sister Maymoonah,
      So sorry to hear about your sisters first bad experience, good on you for being there for her.
      Please don't be disheartened. We have to make dua for ourselves and to speak up for ourselves and not accept poor treatment. When we are at our most vulnerable, we need other sisters/family members who will stick up for us.

      Thank you for your dua's, I sincerely hope I come across someone like the Muslim midwife you mention when I go into hospital insh'Allah.

  5. Asalaamu Aalaikum Sis,

    I work as a labor and birth Doula in Toronto, Canada and its surprising to hear your story because we always compared maternity care in North America to that of Europe, especially the UK with the ratio of 80% midwives.

    Over time I think all care givers get desensitized to their work. The responsible thing to do is to take a break- if they see it happening. But most need the income and continue to take their frustrations out on others.

    I think the most important thing for you to do is stand up for your rights. Your health care provider works for you. You are their "boss" and its important to voice patient consent. For example, you dont have to consent to reusing your plastic pee bottle (lol really?)

    I think regardless of where you live- there will always be the good and the bad eggs. You my friend got a bad egg who might have been having a bad day.

    I think the best advice I can give you is to file a complaint about the Midwife and/or ask for a new one!

    May Allah make this time easy and comfortable for you.

  6. Hi everyone,
    I am a first time mother and can really sympathies with your treatment ! I haven't even given birth but have been treated as an idiot - lied to about my current problems and generally been made to feel like a nuisance by hospital midwives. I am dreading giving birth.

  7. Salam.. Sorry to hear your experience. We are sisters from Malaysia & we provide good post natal care service for mothers during their confinement period including post natal massage,herbal bath, baby bath,steambath etc.. We ensure mothers regain their health and work as normal :)

    1. Walaikam-assalam,
      You guys sound amazing. I wish we had more support like that here. I think something like that would only be available here for people who pay a lot of mone

  8. This is no surprise.

    Around August 2010 my friend who is a french convert to Islam had called me to state the good news that she had given birth to a beautiful baby girl. Maasha'Allah

    She further explained which hospital she'd given birth at and requested that I must come and pay her and the newborn a visit.

    She explained to me it was the hospital's policy to have at least one friend or family member at her bedside as a companion, outside of the normal visiting hours up until the times of 10:00 pm.

    I arrived at the hospital for approximately 8:00pm. After navigating my way through the many hospital wards and corridors I managed to find the right one.

    The double doors were closed which is to be expected for security reasons.So I pressed the buzzer on the intercom and didn't receive a response for over five minutes. I had a real gut feeling that they the midwives/nurses were completely aware of my attendance at the double doors via CCTV so I continued to press the buzzer. Before I could even mention my name and the person pf whom I had come to visit, she abruptly shouted 'visiting times are over now, you need to leave'

    I continued to say that my friend has told me she is able to have a companion accompany her she responded 'this isn't true'. After I insisted that I had travelled a long distant to the hospital the midwife had reluctantly opened the double doors via the intercom. and I made my way towards the reception area where she sat staring at me.

    She insisted that I shouldn't be here and visiting time were over even though I explained the companion policy repeatedly she will allow me no more than fifteen minutes visitation time. I knew this wasn't right.

    There were four or five separate rooms leading to more rooms along the left hand side of the maternity ward and I was just left to completely figure out which room she was in, with no success I asked the horrid midwife which room my friend was residing in. Her response 'the rooms on the right'


    Every bit of treatment I received from the midwife was so hostile and scornful from the countenance of her face to the her manner of tone was totally fuelled by with prejudice.

    I eventually found my friend in one of the rooms after accidentally intruding in on the privacy of others through the lack of proper directions given.

    I greeted my friend and was so glad to see her healthy little baby. However I didn't hesitate to mention the amount of negative comments received from the midwives on duty.

    My friend was very disappointed and immediately approached the midwife to remind her about the companion policy. Her response 'Oh well I just forgot didn't I', no eye contact, no apology.

    I was so annoyed at her apparent hatred, I was close to
    Not to mention she had constantly pressed the alarm to sound that it was time to go, even before the 10:00pm cut off time was over, rushing me to leave the ward.

    My entire visit to the hospital was ruined, why?
    because me and my friend are muslims and we're not human enough to receive proper treatment, Obviously!

    The truth is the Kuffar absolutely hate muslims, therefore it comes to me as no surprise that they are going to hate our offspring as well and treat us with contempt and scorn whenever we multiply.

    It is absolutely appalling that these so-called professionals are working among muslim women who are in the most vulnerable moment in their live whilst giving birth. They exercise hatred and resentment towards muslim women who want to enjoy the fruits of motherhood just like any other female being.

    I really hope the day I give birth to my first child I will be assisted by muslim midwives, doctors and nurses.

    I really hope we can stand form as muslim women and stand firm to combat the apparent hate and Islamaphobia we receive on a daily basis from kaafirs who work within the healthcare sector and elsewhere. Insha'Allah. Ameen