Nurse 'handed mum paper bowl' to birth baby into during 'horrific' miscarriage at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary
A young mother has told of her ‘heartbreak’ after claiming she was given a paper bowl to birth her baby into while inside a toilet cubical at the Ediburgh Royal Infirmary.
Katarzyna Szafarz, 35, said she lost four babies through miscarriage and described the experience as "horrifying."
Speaking about her first miscarriage she said: “I had the day off work and was at home with a friend when I started bleeding and went to the Royal Infirmary because I knew something must be wrong.
“I didn’t realise I was having a miscarriage until the nurse told me, she gave me a paper bowl and told me to go to the bathroom.
“I birthed my baby by myself during the night and was too scared to look down. My husband was still at work and didn’t know what was going on, they gave me painkillers and I left in the morning. The whole experience was absolutely horrific. ”
And the young mum said that the process was made more difficult because “none of the doctors or nurses would let me grieve” and there was “no real support given afterwards.”
She said: “The doctors kept saying ‘it’s okay, stop worrying about it, you will have children in the future’ but I had lost my child and nobody seemed to understand that.”
NHS Lothian said they do not comment directly on individual cases but stressed they would apologise to any patient who did not receive support to the standard they should have.
Over the next two years, Ms Szafarz suffered three further miscarriages which she said were again harder because she was “not given the space or resources to grieve.”
Ms Szafarz, who is originally from Poland but moved to Edinburgh 11 years ago, said: “In Poland, no matter when your child is born you get a funeral but I didn't get that option here. I don’t know what happened to my babies, I never got to see them again.”
It wasn’t until 2015 when Ms Szafarz met Zoe Clark-Coates, who runs remembrance services in Edinburgh for people affected by the loss of a baby either during pregnancy, at birth or in infancy, that she got the support she needed.
Mrs Szafarz said that attending the service was “a real turning point” in her grieving process.
She said: “I remember the first time I met Ms Clark-Coates, she asked me if I knew the sex of my babies and for me somebody asking about my baby's sex felt like my pregnancies were being valued for the first time.”
“After losing my babies I felt very alone. All the time I was scared and overwhelmed with feelings I couldn’t cope with.
“But when I went to my first service in 2015 it allowed me to release these emotions I had been keeping deep inside and it’s easier for me to deal with the loss now.
“At the service, we have time to pray, sing and light candles for each baby, that’s the hardest part, everybody cries when you light the candle.”
The next service will be held on Friday 27 September at 5.30pm at St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral in Edinburgh.
Ms Clark-Coates said: “We invite anyone who has gone through or been affected by baby loss, to join us for this special event. Come and join with others who have been through a similar experience, in remembering all those who have gone too soon, because every baby matters.”
This will be the third remembrance service that Ms Szafarz will attend.
The grieving mother added: “I still think about my babies every day and still feel horrible about the experience at the hospital and the lack of support.
"I always wonder about what my baby's sex was. If I knew I could have given the name and it would be easier to say goodbye."
Ms Szafarz currently lives in Fife with her husband Peter and their three children Dominique, five, Daniel, two and two-week-old Patrick.
Frances McGuire, NHS Lothian's chief midwife, said: “Miscarriages are a traumatic experience for any woman to go through. Different treatment options are available to women depending on the stage of pregnancy. We aim to offer women informed choices to help them reach the decision that is right for them. Following a miscarriage we direct patients to the Miscarriage Association to receive support and information needed during this difficult time.
"Although we cannot comment directly on an individual case we would apologise to any patient who has not received support to the standard they should have and we would urge them to contact us directly."