Conditions that threaten women’s lives in childbirth & pregnancy


Age at interview: 43
Age at diagnosis: 40

Brief outline: James and his partner were expecting their first child. After delivery his partner developed Amniotic Fluid Embolism. Both mother and baby are fine.

Background: James is a counsellor. He lives with his partner and they were expecting their first daughter.

Audio & video

James and his partner were expecting their first baby. She was 12 days overdue when they went in to hospital. His partner had a long exhausting labour, before their daughter was born. She was fine, but as the baby was born he sensed a change in the atmosphere in the room, and was ushered out. He was left keeping an eye on their new born, as doctors fought to save his partners life. She had developed amniotic fluid embolism (AFE), a very rare complication of pregnancy in which amniotic fluid, fetal cells, hair, or other debris enters the mother's blood stream via the placental bed of the womband triggers an allergic reaction, and was haemorrhaging.
After several hours, doctors came to tell him what was going on, that it was touch and go, and that he should go home and rest as his partner was going to be sedated in ICU for 24 hours. He left their baby in special care (which felt very strange as she was fine, and the other babies were not) and went home to rest. Next morning he received a call to say that his partner was awake. He went in to see her and the baby. After a couple of days his partner was transferred out of ICU to a room in the maternity wing, where they could all three be together. But she was still undergoing lots of tests, and the maternity ward was not the place for her to get the care she needed. She was transferred to a haematology ward, and James was discharged with the baby home. This was a steep learning curve for him, to take on the full care of a new born. His partner was in hospital for a further 12 days until she was allowed home. He was exhausted and felt he was not given enough support or warning by the hospital, before sending him home with the baby.


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