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Alabama mum has sued the people responsible for her nightmare birth and been awarded $16 million in compensation.

When Caroline Malatesta, 32, was pregnant with her fourth child in 2012 she searched around and found a place that promised her that she would be in control of her birth. Brookwood Women’s Centre  promises women a “personalised birth.”

But instead of the calm, empowering birth, that she was expecting, she was restrained during active labour and had her son’s head held inside her for six minutes after he initially crowned.

It left her with a serious and extremely painful condition: pudendal neuralgia, which affects a nerve that runs through the pelvis.

Malatesta told a local news outlet that she felt the entire experience felt like a bait and switch, and the jury agreed.

It found the birth centre to be “in violation of the standard of care for labour and delivery nurses” and categorized Brookwood’s marketing to be a “reckless misrepresentation of fact,” validating Malatesta’s complaint, with the total damages owed to her and her husband assessed at $16 million. ($20.8mil au)

“I’ve been left with a debilitating medical condition, my sex life is gone, I see a therapist, and I’m on medications both for pain and to ward off panic attacks,” says Malatesta, now 35 and a stay-at-home mom to her four kids, ages 9, 8, 5, and 3, with her husband, an attorney. “It has turned our family life upside down.”

She has said a nurse ordered her into a bed and onto her back and hooked her up to continuous wired monitoring (instead of the wireless type she was told she’d have). When the labouring mom asked for the birthing tub she was promised, she says the nurse told her the room could not accommodate one.

“I continued asking why I had to be on my back and saying I needed to move around, but she ignored my questions and demanded I obey her, as if I were a disobedient child,” Malatesta recalls through a written description of the birth provided to Yahoo Parenting. “I could sense my husband’s anxiety mounting. As we went back forth — me asking questions and telling her this was more painful for me, and her getting increasingly irritated — it became very clear that this wasn’t about health or safety. It was a power struggle.”

“The nurses held me down and pressed my baby’s head into my vagina to delay delivery as he was trying to come out,” she writes. Staffers physically prevented her baby, Jack, from being born for six minutes, leaving Malatesta with an excruciating, debilitating nerve injury — a permanent condition, pudendal neuralgia, which causes daily pain “much worse than labour,” she says — as well as a diagnosis of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Pitocin (a labor inducer also used postpartum to prevent excessive bleeding) was given without Malatesta’s knowledge or consent.

Though she was hesitant to go the legal route she felt it was her only option left, and filed suit in February 2014.

“Several aspects of litigation have been emotionally hard, including having to answer deeply personal and sexual questions in deposition and having my personal emails sifted through by attorneys,” Malatesta explains.

“But the hardest part by far is sitting in depositions as a passive spectator, and listening to people try to justify their actions even in the face of my clear refusal. It’s a creepy feeling to hear nurses and hospital administrators who sincerely believe they have the rights over my body.”

“Several days after the verdict, Caroline Malatesta explained how she viewed this trial as being about more than finding justice for herself. While it was an important healing process, she said, the reactions she’s received from women across the country has bolstered the belief that she was standing up for a woman’s right to choose how to deliver a baby.”

Share your comments below.

Image via Cosmopolitan

  • Midwives should listen to the individual women in labour, each labour is different and every woman knows her own body! A

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  • I can’t even imagine what she would have felt and then to have a permanent medical condition? It’s a disgusting case of neglect on the part of medical professionals who should have been providing the utmost care!

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  • This hospital was meant to care for her and her baby, to make this a happy and relaxing event. Instead they turned it into a trauma that she will have to live with her entire life. So lucky her baby was not injured in any way. I hope she can get some help with her pain and suffering. That nurse should have been sacked or moved out of the maternity wards at least

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  • Oh my god!!! I am at a loss to understand why they were pushing the baby back up the birth canal when it was obviously ready to be born?! These people need to be stopped from performing their jobs, this is wrong on so many levels

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  • How can the nurse think that there is ANYTHING right about what she did?! Sounds Very dangerous & I’m glad the mother has not let the issue go!

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  • Oh my gosh this is so upsetting. That poor lady.

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  • What a traumatic birth for mother and child. This will stay with her forever. I hope she continues to get the help she needs to recover from this. The money will certainly help.

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  • That’s not even standard procedure. I am surprised the baby didn’t suffer head trauma. Was she even a qualified nurse?? The Mum probably has so much pain she isn’t able to car for her children as she should. Some Mums who have the drug after birth sometimes have to have further surgery.

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  • This was gross misconduct by the midwifery and hospital staff I realize birthing plans do not always go to plan but this was pure negligence on their part she was treated right and obviously damage was done to her mind and body because of this .

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  • That poor woman. I’m so glad she took them to court and won

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  • The golden rule in midwifery was never hold the head back! That was back in 1968 and it still is true today. You can gently guide the head as it is coming out to prevent tearing for instance. I HAVE LITERALLY SEEN A BUB COME OUT NATURALLY WITH SUCH FORCE that my friend caught it at the end of the bed!

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  • That is absolutely disgusting! Poor woman! What a traumatizing experience!!

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  • What a traumatic experience !! A pity that the $16 million can’t buy them health and happiness.

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  • Pleased that this nightmare birthing centre had to shell out – or at least their insurance did, but it must make them behave better in the future. Barbaric is the way I would comment on their behaviour.

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  • It sounds more like a Nightmare Hotel, than a personalised birthing centre!! But crikeys $16mil is a LOT of money!!!

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