Woman Gets $16 Million After Terrible Childbirth Experience
When Caroline Malatesta and her husband, J.T., prepared for their fourth baby, they were more than familiar with many of the trials of childbirth experience, labor and delivery. With that in mind, they chose a hospital that promoted natural births so Caroline could walk around at will, soak in a tub and just be as comfortable as possible in general. Instead, nurses thwarted her efforts to have a natural birth by pushing the baby back into her womb.
Child birth is messy. Babies don’t arrive on anyone’s time schedule. They Malatestas chose to deliver at Brookwood Medical Center because they promoted natural birth. They assumed she would be able to follow her body’s rhythms. She wasn’t. When she was in labor, the nurses prevented her from delivering.
While her contractions grew stronger and she became more dilated, nurses forced her into positions that would prevent her from progressing because her doctor wasn’t on call. They were trying to get in touch with him, but instead of finding another doctor, or another person trained in childbirth to assist what they delivered, the two nurses followed what the medical center considers protocol, and prevented the birth. In short, the very opposite of a natural birth.
At the time, J.T. encouraged his wife. He now regrets trusting the nurses. He assumed they knew something he didn’t, like that Caroline or the baby were in danger.
When the baby began crowning, the doctor still hadn’t arrived, so the nurses took matters into their own hands, literally. One nurse put her hand on his head, while Malatesta’s body fought to push and give birth. The other nurse held her down, preventing her from finding a more comfortable natural birthing position. The nurses kept him in for a full six minutes before the doctor arrived. A minute later, the baby came, alive and thriving. It could have ended very differently. In 2014, 23,000 infants died in the United States alone.
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Malatesta herself wasn’t so lucky. As if having a baby naturally doesn’t have enough pain and complications as it is, she now suffers from a condition called pudendal neuralgia, intense pain in the private area. This occurred because the nurses fought against her contractions and refused to follow her body’s instincts. She had to move back in with her parents because she needed full-time care to manage the agony, using baths and bed rest.
Malatesta attempted to contact the doctors and nurses about the issue to understand what had happened and why. However, the hospital didn’t comment and refused to get back to them. The family decided to pursue litigation charges and were awarded $16 million.
Malatesta reports that, after nearly two years, the pain is more manageable, but it’s far from gone after such a terrible childbirth experience. She still spends several hours a day managing it. As a mother of four, this means she can’t enjoy the kind of time she’d like with them. It also affects her physical time with her husband.
Women are encouraged to talk to the hospital or center where they’ll be delivering to find out about emergency protocols. Speak with doctors and nurses to find out if a doctor is on-call and what happens if a doctor is not on hand. Many gynecologist offices employ multiple doctors and sometimes midwives so someone is always on-call or on-hand.
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“They need to review the way they’ve been doing things and make changes,” Malatesta said. Since she’s shared her story, dozens of women have come forward to share their own childbirth and delivery traumas. She hopes hospitals will “wake up” and start listening to women.