Conditions that threaten women’s lives in childbirth & pregnancy


Age at interview: 34
Age at diagnosis: 29

Brief outline: At 32 weeks through her third pregnancy, Rob's wife was diagnosed with placenta praevia and was hospitalized for the rest of her pregnancy. During a planned caesarean Rob's wife haemorrhaged and doctors performed a hysterectomy to save her life. Their baby was taken into special care.

Background: Rob is now a house-husband, and lives with his wife and three daughters. White British.

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Rob and his wife were expecting their third child. Their first two daughters had been born by caesarian sections, the first an emergency, the second planned, 16 months apart. Their third daughter was due 19 months after their second daughter.
When his wife was 32 weeks pregnant, she started to bleed and went into hospital for a check. Investigations showed that she had a grade 4 placenta praevia, and she was kept in hospital for the last weeks of her pregnancy. Although she lived very close to the hospital and was allowed out for occasional short visits, she was separated from her two young daughters for over 6 weeks. Her stay in hospital was difficult. She continued to bleed every 2-3 days and lost a lot of blood, before the doctors felt that the baby was strong enough to be delivered.
Rob’s wife was told she was going to have to have a general anaesthetic for the delivery, which worried her, although neither of them were warned that the delivery might result in a haemorrhage or hysterectomy. She wrote letters to her family and made sure that her father was going to be with Rob during the birth. The operation went badly, the baby had to go to special care, and his wife haemorrhaged. The doctors had to be perform a hysterectomy to stop the bleeding and she was taken to intensive care (ITU), where she stayed for several days.
Rob was deeply shocked by the experience of finding his daughter in neo-natal intensive care, and seeing his wife in ITU, gravely ill. After several days on ITU, his wife pulled through. Their daughter was fine, and is now 5. But life was very difficult for the family after Rob’s wife came home. She was debilitated for a long time from her surgery, and Rob was working and looking after his wife and three children, with little support. He suffered a breakdown a few months later and developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). He described a very difficult phase of their lives during which he suffered depression and lost his job. He was offered no support from the GP and neither of them have received any counselling to help them come to terms with their traumatic experiences. 


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