Caroline Malatesta’s birth experience at Brookwood Medical Center in Birmingham, AL, was the opposite of what she expected. She chose the hospital because it promised a gentler birth experience but, instead, ended up injured from a nurse forcing her into a delivery position that she did not want.
Brookwood emphasized in its marketing that it respected the mother’s choice in how she wanted to deliver, unlike other facilities where mothers were expected to comply with a standard protocol.
When she first entered the hospital in labor, Malatesta was assisted by a nurse she recalls as kind and supportive, and who allowed her to proceed with labor on her hands and knees, as she preferred. Subsequently, another took over and told Malatesta that she should use the bathroom because she might not be able to get out of bed for the rest of her labor. The nurse “made it clear that she was not supportive of [her] decision to have a natural birth,” she said. When the time came for her to give birth, she was not given the freedom of movement promised to her by the advertisement, she claimed in her lawsuit.
Malatesta was on her hands and knees when she felt a large contraction and said the baby was coming. The nurse ordered the mother to turn on her back, and Malatesta protested that she couldn’t deliver that way. Her husband said he could see the baby’s head. The nurse forcibly flipped Malatesta onto her back by grabbing her wrists and pulling her hands out from under her, the mother said. Malatesta’s lawsuit said she tried to resist and struggled with the nurse.
Malatesta protested that her doctor had assured her that she could labor in whatever position she wanted, and the nurse responded, “Well, your doctor isn’t on call tonight,” according to the lawsuit.
She attempted to reduce the pain by raising her hips and trying to return to her hands and knees, but Malatesta claimed that the nurses held her down. During the final contraction, Malatesta says a nurse forced her left knee toward her chest, which put her legs in an asymmetrical position.
As the baby’s head was crowning, a nurse pressed the baby’s head back into her vagina and held it in for about six minutes while they waited for a doctor, she says. Malatesta said she was screaming at the nurses to stop and let the baby deliver. The baby was born a minute after the doctor arrived, the lawsuit said.