Conditions that threaten women’s lives in childbirth & pregnancy


Age at interview: 35
Age at diagnosis: 33

Brief outline: After the birth of her first daughter, Ciara had severe pain in her abdomen and developed septicaemia. She was on antibiotics for several weeks.

Background: Ciara is a qualified barrister, married with two daughters (age 6 months and 2 '). White British.

Audio & video

Ciara delivered her first child in a birthingpool, with no pain relief at her local hospital. She was encouraged to take syntocinon for the 3rd stage to deliver the placenta. Almost immediately she developed a severe pain in her stomach, to the side. She asked for morphine and was given one dose. However, she felt that no one really took her concerns seriously and she was discharged home. She was monitored in the community by the local midwife. After a week the baby had lost 15% of her birth weight which made the midwives concerned. After 11 days she was sent back into another local hospital to have the baby checked over for dehydration etc. Although she mentioned the pain, and was feeling very hot during the whole day they were at hospital no one checked her or picked up a problem. She was swabbed but it took 10 days for the results to come back, and she was prescribed some oral antibiotics for a uterine infection. She called an out of hours doctor out at 2 weeks, who prescribed antibiotics for a suspected urinary tract infection, but the didn’t seem to take effect. She finally went to her GP at 3 weeks + 2 days to speak to him about pain etc. He immediately sent her to the local hospital were she was admitted and put on intravenous antibiotics. Scans showed that she had retained products and “multiple” abscesses on her spleen. She spent a week in hospital, on strong antibiotics before finally being discharged. This involved giving her an ECG to check for endocarditis (an infection on the valves of the heart). 
Ciara felt that there was so much focus on the baby that no one listened to her concerns about being in pain for several weeks. Obvious warning signs were missed. She is concerned that the bad (anxious and stressful) experience of the early weeks affected her bonding with her daughter. She was so concerned about a re-run of a difficult post-birth experience that she opted for a planned caesarian section for her second daughter born 6 months ago.


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