'I heard my body rip open during childbirth, immense pain engulfed me'
A woman who said she heard her body "tear open" during childbirth is calling on the HSE to investigate complaints about maternity care and address a "patriarchal" health system.
Nuala Hoey (37), from Castletown, Co Meath, said she suffered a life-altering fourth-degree tear during childbirth at Our Lady of Lourdes hospital in Drogheda, Co Louth.
She is one of hundreds of women who revealed their stories on RTÉ's 'Liveline' show to Joe Duffy. Ms Hoey is the first of these women to step forward into the public eye. She had been expecting a straightforward birth after a "blissful pregnancy".
She believes the nurse incorrectly encouraged her to push too "aggressively" to bring the birth. This, she believes, led to the fourth-degree tear, which left her doubly incontinent for a lengthy period while she also suffered PTSD. She also claims she was misdiagnosed with a third-degree tear.
"I heard my body rip open. It was so loud. It sounded like the ripping of a... bag of potatoes," she recalled. "This immense pain engulfed me, swallowed me up. I went into shock .... The pain was so bad, I thought I'd vomit, I got light headed."
After the surgery, Ms Hoey claimed she was only offered a paracetamol.
She added she wanted an overhaul of maternity services in Ireland.
"Often the most invalidating thing a woman with birth experience can hear are phrases like 'Be glad your baby is well' or 'All that matters is a healthy baby'.
"While mothers are indeed very glad their babies are fine, it's of the utmost importance to be aware mothers matter too."
Joe Duffy said close to 1,000 women had been in contact with the programme. He told the Irish Independent: "The response to women's stories and experiences in the last two weeks on 'Liveline' is one of the biggest the programme has ever received.
"These brave women have been the voices for so many others over the last nine days on the programme."
A HSE spokeswoman said that listening is at the core of the National Maternity Strategy. "The HSE apologises to those women where our service has failed to meet their expectations," she added.
"We also apologise that women have felt compelled to ring RTÉ to have their concerns heard. This should not happen.
"When someone is dissatisfied with their clinical care, or the manner in which they were treated, they can make their views known directly to the hospital or through the Your Service Your Say service.
"The HSE will always endeavour to address these concerns in a compassionate and professional manner."
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