Conditions that threaten women’s lives in childbirth & pregnancy

Natalie

Female
Age at interview: 32
Age at diagnosis: 30

Brief outline: This was Natalie's first pregnancy. After a quick labour she delivered her son in hospital. However, after the delivery she started to feel very strange and had started to haemorrhage. She lost 3 ' litres of blood but doctors were soon able to stop the bleeding.

Background: Natalie is a software consultant. She is married with one son. White British.

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This was Natalie’s first pregnancy and everything went well, with no major concerns. On her due date she went into labour at home, her waters breaking at 2am. Her labour progressed rapidly and she went into hospital (a midwife led birthing unit) around 7am. Natalie was keen to have a drug free birth and laboured well without any pain relief. Her son was born just after 10.30 am. He was well and she held him and started to feed him in the delivery suite. However, after delivering the placenta, she started to feel very strange. Natalie described a feeling of falling back and feeling disconnected from the room. Her midwife hit the red button and soon the room was full of lots of people. Her husband stayed by her side for the whole time, stroking her head and reassuring her. She haemorrhaged and lost 3 ½ litres of blood. Doctors performed internal compressions (with only gas and air to help her with the pain) and she had a blood transfusion. She was in and out of consciousness, but it felt as though that part of the experience went on for hours. But her notes show it was only 30 minutes or so. The staff were very efficient and reassuring, trying to keep her calm throughout. Once she was stabilised, the doctors started to leave the room, and she was able to start to come to terms with what had happened.
 
Natalie was transferred up to the delivery suite, but observed closely for a few hours. She was given a private room with two beds and she and her husband were able to get some rest. Their baby was fine, and bonding and breastfeeding were not affected by the haemorrhage. Natalie was discharged home after three days, although felt very weak for the following fortnight. She did not have any special follow up at the hospital, just routine checks at the GP. She did, however, appreciate the doctor who did the internal compressions, and her midwife coming to see her at the end of their shifts to check on her and explain what they had had to do. She has been in to hospital for a de-brief on her notes, but found it quite unsatisfactory, feeling as though the staff were being defensive rather than informative. A friend of hers had also had a haemorrhage in childbirth a few weeks earlier which she felt gave her some idea of what was happening to her. But they have not really talked about their experiences since.
 
Looking back on the experience 16 months on, Natalie describes herself as being philosophical about her birth experience. She has been told that subsequent pregnancies would have to be closely monitored, but not a problem. She is not too concerned about having another pregnancy, feeling that if she and the doctors coped with it once they can cope again.
 

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