Conditions that threaten women’s lives in childbirth & pregnancy


Age at interview: 32
Age at diagnosis: 30

Brief outline: Alison had a very straightforward pregnancy with her first child. She had an emergency caesarean, and her son was born healthy and strong. However, Alison haemorrhaged as her uterus refused to contract. The doctors were forced to perform a hysterectomy to save Alison's life.

Background: Alison is an accountant, married with one son. White British.

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After a very straightforward, and happy, pregnancy, Alison went into labour naturally on her due date. Her labour proceeded in a straightforward manner, with some diamorphine and gas and air. However, once fully dilated her baby was back to back, and getting distressed. The doctors took her into theatre to attempt a forceps delivery, and then a caesarean section. They explained that they needed to do the caesarean operation to protect the baby. Her son was born and started crying immediately and was healthy and strong. She saw him but did not hold him before he was taken out of the operating room while she was stitched up. 
However, although she felt fine once he was born she realised that a long time had passed, almost two hours. There were a lot of people in the room, although the atmosphere was very calm. She did not feel particularly weak or dizzy, but after a while they told her that they were going to put her to sleep for a while. She woke up over 12 hours later in the middle of the night, in intensive care (ICU). Her uterus had refused to contract and therefore had not stopped bleeding. Although the doctors tried various methods to stimulate its contractions, none of them worked, so there was no option but to perform a hysterectomy. 
It was 27 hours after the birth that she was finally able to see her baby. She spent just about 12 hours in ICU and was then transferred to a labour room where she stayed with her baby for two days, before being transferred to the maternity ward. She went home after 6 days. She was supported to start breastfeeding and successfully managed it, after a wobbly day. The obstetric consultant came to see her several times in the hospital to explain what had happened. She has made a good recovery and her son was 2 years old when she was interviewed. She has no physical side effects, however, she has had emotional issues coming to terms with the hysterectomy and the fact that she almost died. She was offered a follow up appointment at the hospital at 10 weeks which she found very helpful, and has had two periods of counseling with a fertility counselor at the hospital. 


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