Conditions that threaten women’s lives in childbirth & pregnancy

Henrietta

Female
Age at interview: 31
Age at diagnosis: 29

Brief outline: Henrietta was expecting her first child. Her daughter was born without complications, but after the birth Henrietta started to haemorrhage.

Background: Henrietta works in the energy industry and is married with one daughter.

Audio & video

Henrietta was expecting her first child. Her pregnancy was uneventful, and she went into labour at 40 weeks. She labored for a day, and then called out the midwife, hoping for a home birth. The midwife monitored her at home for a while, but after she became concerned that the baby’s heartbeat was not recovering sufficiently after each contraction, they decided to go into hospital. Her daughter was born without complications. However, when Henrietta went to have a shower after the birth, she noticed that she seemed to be bleeding quite a lot. Not having had a baby before, she wasn’t sure if this was normal or not, but there was too much blood to get dressed again. She wrapped herself in a dressing gown and went back to bed. 
 
She mentioned the bleeding to the midwife, who did not seem interested or alarmed at first. However, when she did come and have a look they could see that the bed sheets were getting stained consistently with blood. Henrietta was moved to a different room where she was monitored. A Senior House Officer asked them to strip the sheets and weigh them at regular intervals to try and work out how much blood she was losing. They assumed that she was bleeding because her uterus had not contracted, so they gave her Syntometrine, via a drip. However, the bleeding did not stop, and Henrietta was feeling more and more tired. After several hours, a consultant decided that they needed to operate to see what was going on. A spinal block was put in and she was wheeled into theatre. She signed a consent form, and was told briefly during the operation that they had found some tears, but no more information and follow up was offered. The doctor did not come and see her after the operation.
 
She was sent back to the post-natal ward about 10pm, visiting hours were over, and she faced the night trying to look after her baby while the spinal block was still in effect, and she had a catheter in. She found it very difficult. She was given injections the next day, but she didn’t know what for. They took tests and decided she didn’t need a blood transfusion, and just told to eat steak and chocolate to boost her iron levels.
 
She was discharged from hospital the next day and had no more than her GPs six week check, at which they didn’t know she had had a Post Partum Haemorrhage (PPH). Eighteen months on she is pregnant again. While not overly worried about at PPH, she has been told by the midwife that there is an increased risk of it happening again, and she would like more information about why that is. Generally, more information about what a PPH is, what to expect, would have been welcome. Given the prevalence of PPH, she would like to have been warned about it in ante-natal classes. 
 

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