Conditions that threaten women’s lives in childbirth & pregnancy

Belinda

Male
Age at interview: 36
Age at diagnosis: 31

Brief outline: When she was pregnant with her first child Belinda suffered a lot of pain and discomfort which was finally diagnosed as appendicitis. She had an appendectomy at 32 weeks and an emergency caesarean at 34 weeks. Her daughter spent time in neo-natal intensive care before coming home.

Background: Belinda is a scientific officer. She is married and lives with her husband and two children. White British.

Audio & video

Belinda has two children now aged five and ten months. The pregnancy with her daughter, now five, was difficult. She suffered a lot of discomfort and pain, which was finally diagnosed as appendicitis. Belinda went in to premature labour at 32 weeks, and shortly after had an appendectomy. While she was in hospital she was diagnosed with Crohns disease, which continues to be very debilitating for her, five years on. 
 
After the appendectomy, the doctors left the baby in utero, hoping that she would go to term. Belinda was in hospital for a total of three weeks. After two weeks, her waters broke with meconium in them and so induction was started. This resulted in an emergency caesarian section, when the baby was 34 weeks. Her baby spent two weeks in neo-natal intensive care (NICU), but Belinda was not able to see her very often because she was on a surgical ward attached to drips and immobile. She discharged herself home after a week but again was not able to visit her baby as she was not allowed to drive. Belinda was not able to breastfeed, and found it difficult to bond with her daughter. 
 
Once she was home with the baby alone, she developed post-natal depression. She changed GP (the first one had missed the appendicitis diagnosis) and was prescribed anti- depressants and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). She felt very depressed for at least six months, and remained on anti-depressants for 17 months. 
 
She felt that she was not given enough information in hospital about what was happening to her, and only four years later found out the full extent of the bowel surgery that she had had. She had to push quite hard for a planned caesarian section for her second child. 
 
The GP arranged treatment for her post-natal depression, but on the whole Belinda felt all the focus was on the baby, not her. She found support through another local mum who also had had a premature baby, and busied herself going to baby groups etc. It was only with the birth of her son last year that Belinda had felt strong enough to improve her relationship with her daughter. 
 

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