"I couldn't even to say a simple thing to a midwife like I'm in pain," said Marie
Student midwives at a university in Leicester are the first in the UK to be taught basic sign language so they can help deaf women during labour.
De Montfort University (DMU) has introduced signing to their midwifery course so the students can communicate with deaf women without an interpreter.
It is thought the move could especially help in emergency situations, when an interpreter may not be on hand.
The course has been running with the help of the charity Action Deafness.
DMU's senior midwifery lecturer Bernadette Gregory, who has been running the sessions, believes sign language will improve communication of future midwives.
"We hope the next generation of midwifes will be able to offer better care by being able to communicate a lot better with deaf women at such an important time in their lives," said Bernadette.
Amanda Mitchell, one of the student midwives who has attended a sign language session, said: "We have to make sure that we are aware of deaf women out there.
"The deaf awareness classes has made me look at midwifery differently - I'm more aware of the complex needs of all women accessing midwifery services."
Marie Sneesby, who is deaf, thought she was prepared when she went into hospital to have her daughter.
"I had a rota of interpreters who could help when my baby was born, but unfortunately the list ran out because my daughter was two weeks late," said Marie.
"So I didn't have an interpreter on standby."
Marie said she struggled to communicate with staff during the caesarean procedure.
"I couldn't even to say a simple thing to a midwife like I'm in pain, or I'm thirsty, or ask a simple question."
Dr Joanna Downes from Action Deafness said: "When deaf parents go into a midwifery department it's a very stressful experience for them."
"It's more stressful when they arrive and the professional says 'what? what?' and the communication and approach isn't very good.
"So if the midwives know a little bit of signing that would actually help things in the initial process," added Dr Downes.