Conditions that threaten women’s lives in childbirth & pregnancy

Michelle

Female
Age at interview: 36
Age at diagnosis: 30

Brief outline: Michelle experienced post-partum haemorrhages after delivering both her children. She planned a home birth for both children, but was taken into hospital to manage the bleeding in both cases.

Background: Michelle is a NCT teacher. She is married and has two children. White British.

Audio & video

Michelle is a NCT teacher and is now training to be a midwife. She had a very good pregnancy with her first child, and was very keen to have a home birth. She had an appointment with the consultant but mostly midwife-led care through the pregnancy. She went into labour at home but when the contractions stopped she was transferred to hospital. She was put on a syntocinon drip to start the contractions and her daughter was delivered healthy. However, after the birth she started to haemorrhage and lost 2000ml of blood. The midwives were able to stop the bleeding relatively quickly with massage and drugs, but she was left feeling very weak. Her husband was left standing holding their baby watching his wife bleed profusely, believing he was watching her dying in front of him. 
 
Michelle was offered a debrief at the hospital but the consultant’s off-hand attitude meant that what could have been a really helpful appointment was useless. She continued with her NCT training and found writing her own birth story, and researching the various causes for the haemorrhage, a very helpful part of the healing process. She was not keen to have another child, and put herself through the labour again. But finally it was the desire to have a sibling for her daughter that prompted her to get pregnant again. She was keen to have another attempt at a natural home birth and this time got an independent midwife to assist at the birth. She had a meeting with a consultant at the hospital and they were very supportive, putting a plan in place including special medication in the fridge, the hospital midwives on stand-by and an intravenous infusion due to low haemaglobin and serum ferratin levels in the last week of her pregnancy, should she haemorrhage again. 
 
Michelle had a great birth at home, supported by the midwife, but shortly after her son was born, started to bleed again and had to be transferred to hospital. This time she lost just a litre of blood, still classed as a major bleed. However, she describes bonding with her son immediately, and feeling much more in control than with her first birth. 
 

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