Sent home from B.C. hospital while in early labour, new mom says she gave birth in her bathroom

A Metro Vancouver woman was having regular contractions four minutes apart, and took that as a sign it was time to go to the hospital.

Bobbi-Dee Schultz said she went to Peace Arch Hospital, in Surrey, to meet her midwife, who did an assessment. According to Schultz, the midwife then told her, “You know the nurses, there’s not enough nurses on staff.”

She told CTV News Tuesday that she was also told she was only two centimetres dilated, not enough to be admitted. It was around 11 p.m., May 16, when she went to the hospital.

“I was in a lot of pain, I could barely even walk up to the room where she was,” said Schultz.

She was also vomiting because she was in so much pain.

“(The midwife) said you should go to Shoppers Drugmart get some Tylenol and Gravol, go home and go to bed,” said Schultz. “She said you should go home and get some rest and I’m going to do that too.”

A representative for Fraser Health said they can’t speak directly to the incident but says that there were no shortages of nursing staff at Peace Arch Hospital on May 16 or 17.

Schultz was with her mom and aunt at the time, who were appalled that they were being asked to leave.

“Bobbi-Dee was in a very bad state and I did say to the midwife, ‘Are you kidding me?’” said mother Susie Schultz. “I was quite upset about it because I was worried. I was worried sick leaving there.”

It took them hours to get home, because they had to stop regularly for Schultz who kept throwing up. At 7:45 the next morning, May 17, Schultz said she went into the bathroom and called out that the baby was coming.

“There were no doctors present, no midwives, we had the paramedic dispatcher on the phone,” said Schultz. “If there were any complications what would have happened?”

Semiahmoo Midwives said it cannot comment on the specific details of any client. Still, in a statement the company said, “Evidence tells us that admission to a hospital before active labour can lead to complications, which is why, without such complications, patients are not admitted in early labour. This is a community standard in midwifery and obstetrical care.”

Fortunately for Schultz there were no complications and her son, Ashon, arrived healthy into the arms of her cousin. It was a 911 operator who talked them through the birth, explaining what items they would need and what to do.

“I don’t know what his name was, but he was amazing, he was calm, he was just amazing,” Schultz’s mom said.

Paramedics arrived shortly after baby Ashon came into the world. They took the mother and baby to the hospital to be checked, where they stayed until the following afternoon.

Schultz’s story comes as B.C. midwives speak out about a lack of adequate maternity care resources, and as Peace Arch Hospital temporarily closes its maternity ward due to not having enough pediatricians.

In a statement, the Fraser Health Authority said its staff members were sorry to hear about Schultz's concerns.

“In general, all pregnant individuals who present to our hospitals are assessed by Fraser Health staff or their midwife. Every patient who requires admission to the hospital is accommodated.”

And the health authority insists that if a pregnant person is told to return home, they are provided with a support plan and information on when to return for the delivery.

But Schultz says she didn’t feel supported while in labour.

“Nobody called to check in on me, nobody offered to do a home birth,” said Schultz. “Why couldn’t somebody have come to do a home birth?”

Schultz said she wanted to share her story with the hope no other first time mom goes through what she did.

“It just terrifies me to have a second child,” she said. “Am I going to be sent home because I’m not dilated enough, or somebody thinks I’m not in pain enough?”

She wants to see the concerns of mothers made more of a priority in the future, and better follow up care.

“It was very concerning,” she said. “I felt like the ball was dropped.”