A mother from Alabama has been permanently injured during her labour after a nurse held her baby’s head in her vagina until the doctor arrived.
Caroline Malatesta and her husband, JT Malatesta, have been awarded a $16 million (USD) in damages, after a jury found Brookwood Medical Center at fault for medical negligence and reckless fraud.
It was 2012, Caroline Malatesta was pregnant with her fourth child and she decided to give birth in the new hospital because they had advertised a flexible approach to natural birth plans.
The hospital had birth tubs, birth balls and wireless foetal monitoring so mothers could walk around during labour.
“When I first walked into my room, I was told by my nurse, ‘You need to get on your back in the bed for monitoring and you may be there for the rest of your labour,'” Mrs Malatesta told AL.com.
“That raised a red flag.”
The mother said she had spent time talking with her doctor about the importance of wireless monitoring and mobility, but the nurse did not facilitate the plan.
“He was not just on board; he said that was the safest thing for me and my baby,” she said.
Despite attempts to get more comfortable, she said she was forced on her back. As her baby was crowning, Malatesta got on her hands and knees.
“The nurse told me to get on my back. I stayed on my hands and knees and breathed, trying to relax, as that is what came naturally to me. But the nurse pulled my wrist out from under me and flipped me over on to my back,” The 36-year-old told Cosmopolitan.
“Then another nurse held my baby’s head into my vagina to prevent him from being delivered.
“The nurses were holding me down, and I was struggling — really struggling. I grabbed the side of the bed, and at one point, I even put my foot up against the nurse’s shoulder and face to try and get leverage to flip back over, but was unsuccessful.”
She says the struggle continued for around six minutes, while her husband tried to comfort her.
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“The nurse lets go of the baby’s head and I felt immediate relief, because that deep pressure of her holding the head in against the force of my contractions was finally released. That’s why I’m so horribly injured, because she kept holding the baby in,” she said.
“It all happened so fast. The baby’s head immediately popped out and my son was fully delivered a minute later.”
Caroline delivered a healthy son but was left with painful and debilitating physical injuries, according to her lawyers.
“These injuries leave her little ability to be the sort of mother or wife she was before all this happened,” Marsh, Rickard & Bryan, P.C. posted on their blog.
The mother of four – with children now aged 4, 6, 8 and 9 – has been diagnosed with Pudendal Neuralgia along with nerve damage.
“The so-called natural childbirth experience at Brookwood turned out to be a nightmare for the Malatestas,” says her lawyer’s blog.
“Caroline had no freedom of movement; instead, she was restrained, sometimes forcibly. Caroline was offered no choice; it was the nurses’ way or no way.”
In a 2015 deposition, it was revealed that there was a notation on Mrs Malatesta’s chart that said she had been instructed not to push.
However, the hospital argued during the two-week trial that the injuries didn’t happen during the labour.
“We are disappointed in the outcome of the case,” said Kate Darden, Vice President of Marketing and Communications for the hospital, in a statement given to Fox 6 News.
“Brookwood Baptist Medical Center strives for excellence in patient care and satisfaction, and we respectfully disagree with the jury’s verdict.”
Watch: The things we aren’t told about giving birth.
Feature image via iStock.