Conditions that threaten women’s lives in childbirth & pregnancy


Age at interview: 38
Age at diagnosis: 38

Brief outline: Hana was expecting twins, her first pregnancy. At 37 weeks she started to feel very ill with suspected obstetric cholestasis. Her labour was induced but she was soon rushed through for an emergency caesarian section.

Background: Hana is a manager in banking and finance. She is married with twins, a boy and girl. White British.

Audio & video

Hana was pregnant with her first children, twins, aged 38. The first two trimesters went well, but in the third trimester she started to feel unwell. She was itching on her hands, feet and bump and noticed that her urine and stools had changed colour. She also developed diarrhoea. She reported all this to her consultant but they did not give her any diagnosis but were monitoring her bloods and liver function.

At 37 weeks, she was still feeling very ill. She had been in the hospital with bleeding three or four times which had been very worrying for her and her husband. The week before her planned induction date, the hospital called her to say that her liver function was not good and asked her to come in the next morning. She went in and was monitored. After a few hours they decided to induce her. They administered the drugs and then she asked if she could have something to eat, she had eaten only a bowl of cereal and was anticipating a long labour. But things developed very quickly. They had trouble finding her son’s heartbeat, and worried he was in distress so she was taken through for an emergency caesarean. Hana’s excitement at her twins arriving in the next few minutes soon turned to terror. The junior anaesthetist failed to intubate her, she vomited and stopped breathing. Her husband (Craig - Interview29) was shoved out of the operating room, the crash teams were called and it was an emergency to get the babies out and Hana breathing as quickly as possible. The babies were OK - they were taken to intensive care where her daughter stayed for just a few days and their son a couple of weeks. Hana woke up in intensive care (ICU) having no idea what had happened to her. Obstetric cholestasis was never formally diagnosed although she still has problems with her liver, even eight and a half months on.
Hana spent a few days in hospital, in a private room that they paid for, before being discharged home with their daughter. She was in a lot of pain from the surgery and in her back, and struggled to cope with the pain, breastfeeding and visiting her son who was still in hospital. She soon gave up breastfeeding as it was more than she could cope with. Their son came home a week later. Everyone was doing well (at the time of the interview) but the experience was very frightening and she was very unwell for quite a few weeks after discharge.


Please use the form below to tell us what you think of the site. We’d love to hear about how we’ve helped you, how we could improve or if you have found something that’s broken on the site. We are a small team but will try to reply as quickly as possible.

Please note that we are unable to accept article submissions or offer medical advice. If you are affected by any of the issues covered on this website and need to talk to someone in confidence, please contact The Samaritans or your Doctor.

Make a Donation to

Find out more about how you can help us.

Send to a friend

Simply fill out this form and we'll send them an email