Warning: This story contains upsetting and distressing details about birth trauma including still birth
The first personal accounts to be shared at public hearings included heartbreaking stories of stillbirth at Wollongong Hospital, where losses were compounded by the treatment the women received within the health system.
Dapto woman Naomi Bowden gave a distressing account of her experiences to the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into birth trauma as it visited Wollongong on September 7.
Ms Bowden's daughter Bella was stillborn at Wollongong Hospital on November 4, 2009.
"It was meant to be one of the most amazing days of my life, it did not go to plan. Bella was stillborn," she said.
Read more: Live coverage from the inquiry in Wollongong
Ms Bowden recounted the "vivid, painful memories" of having to identify her tiny newborn's body in a small room, and asking her family to rush to come and see her as the police were called.
Five hours after Bella was born Ms Bowden recounted how she was "forced to watch the police officer put her in a cold styrofoam box and transfer her to the coroner".
She also spoke about how, after the death of her baby, Ms Bowden had to stay overnight in the maternity ward where she could hear the sound of other women giving birth and their babies crying.
At her six-week check-up after birth, Ms Bowden said she was asked "where is your baby?" by hospital staff, who had not read her files or been briefed about what happened to her daughter.
She said it was the "dismissive and cold" attitudes of hospital staff, and then the Health Care Complaints Commission that had stuck with her.
"The death of my baby was heartbreaking, but it was the disrespectful, inappropriate and bullying treatment by numerous staff at this hospital and the complete lack of care for hours and the weeks and months afterwards ... that exacerbated it and left me profoundly traumatised," she said.
More than 13 years after her birth, Ms Bowden and her family remain profoundly traumatised, with their physical and mental health impacted.
"My last son I had is now six, but the trauma is still alive in my body," Ms Bowden said.
"I put a submission in because I don't want anyone to feel alone. We must do better."
She said she wanted better training and care to exist so other women didn't have to experience what she did.
Amanda Macauley shared the story of her second pregnancy and birth, when on April 13, 2014, her son was stillborn due to a uterine rupture.
She said she presented three times to Wollongong Hospital in the week leading up to her birth with increasing pain but was sent away with Endone, an intensive painkiller.
Ms Macauley ended up in an intensive care ambulance being rushed to the hospital.
"My son was stillborn, I nearly lost my own life, and I required a hysterectomy," she said.
"I needed four months off work to recover, I felt broken physically and psychologically."
She said there were many issues with the care received, and there was little chance for her to be involved in any reviews of her care or experience.
She said she only found out about the existence of a clinical review, which had occurred in 2014, two-and-a-half years after it happened.
"I feel that my concerns in the week leading up to the rupture were not listened to adequately, and as a result me and my family are continuing to live with the trauma," she said.
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