Women Awarded $16 Million After She Says Nurse 'Held My Baby's Head Into My Vagina' to Delay Birth

An Alabama woman was recently awarded $16 million as a result of injuries she sustained at a birthing center during the birth of her fourth child. Caroline Malatesta claimed in the lawsuit that nurses held her down and held the baby inside her to delay his birth until the doctor arrived.

Malatesta told Cosmopolitan that she chose the Brookwood Baptist Medical Center in Birmingham, Alabama, after seeing ads on TV. The center claimed to encourage natural childbirth and offered options such as water birth and allowing mothers to choose a detailed birthing plan. She now says the center engaged in false advertising and that her experience was nothing like either the ads or the assurances she was given when she interviewed a Brookwood doctor before choosing to give birth there.

She first realized there was a problem when she arrived at the hospital in labor. She was ordered by the nurse to use the bathroom because she wouldn't be allowed to get out of bed:

I told her that my doctor said I'd have wireless monitoring and that I would be able to be mobile, but the nurse said my doctor wasn't on call. From that point on, it became a back-and-forth of "But my doctor said I could" and "But you don't get to." The nurse treated me like a disobedient child!

I was resisting, but at the same time, I was trying to accommodate because you're vulnerable, you're in labor. I do get into the bed, I do put on a gown (even though the hospital advertised you could wear your own clothes), I do get on my back, even though it was very painful.

I kept asking, "Why? Why?" but the nurse wasn't answering me. She ignored me, acting almost annoyed with me. As we went back and forth — me asking questions and telling her this was more painful for me, and her getting increasingly irritated — it became very clear that this wasn't about health or safety. It was a power struggle.

Her labor progressed and suddenly, she felt a huge contraction. Then her water broke and the baby's head started crowning. She rolled over onto her hands and knees because it felt more natural for her and hurt less. But the nurse took control, grabbing her wrist and flipping her over onto her back. Then her nightmare went from bad to worse:

Then another nurse held my baby's head into my vagina to prevent him from being delivered. The nurses were holding me down, and I was struggling — really struggling. I grabbed the side of the bed, and at one point, I even put my foot up against the nurse's shoulder and face to try and get leverage to flip back over, but was unsuccessful.

Malatesta's husband, J.T., was terrified, not knowing if there was something wrong with the baby or with his wife and unsure what he should do. He now "lives every day regretting that he trusted those nurses."

After a long six minutes, the doctor came rushing into the room. The nurses let go of Malatesta and the baby's head immediately popped out. He was born a minute later. Fortunately, Jack was not injured during the birth, but his mother sustained serious nerve damage because of the forced delay.