#CBSurvivor: Why Don’t People Talk About Post Partum Haemorrhage?

November 5, 2015
post partum haemorrhage bleeding #cbsurvivor

Post Partum Haemorrhage is the leading cause of death in childbirth and yet people just don’t talk about it. In fact, every day, 1000 women die in childbirth. I had no idea it was something that could happen and I had no idea it could be so serious. And yet it did. And I nearly lost my life.

PPH or post partum bleeding is something that is not exclusive to third world countries, it can happen to any woman. The ones in the Western world have a much higher chance of survival of course, but every woman deserves the chance to survive labour and to meet and mother her infant.

Giving birth to my twins was supposed to be the most incredible experience but it’s the day me and my husband will always remember as being the most terrifying. In just a few minutes a normal delivery transformed into a life-saving transfusion and while my memories of that experience are patchy, I can remember the post traumatic shock extremely clearly.

I was very, very lucky. I was saved by the talented and fast-acting team at UCLH and my uterus is also still in tact. Had the bleeding not been stemmed by the use of a balloon inserted into my womb, I would have been looking at a hysterectomy. The fact they responded so quickly and had blood on hand just in case, meant that my life was preserved and meant that I could be a mum to my newborn twins. But it could have so easily gone wrong.

Had I been to a negligent hospital, like the one PC Diane Patt went to, I might not have been so fortunate. Diane tragically died after losing five litres of blood. I lost four.

Bed bound for a week, unable to walk further than from room to room for weeks, lacking in energy and having two newborns to look after, the aftermath of a post partum haemorrhage is immense. I had to inject myself with blood thinning drugs and had a huge bag full of medication to take to help restore my body. Folic acid, Iron, pain killers, the lot.

I survived childbirth. I’m one of the lucky ones.

I had a catheter in for days, had bed baths by the nurses… I was unable to move myself an inch. Changing my babies or getting back to normal as soon as possible after labour wasn’t an option. I had to accept that my body was going through the biggest trauma. The majority of the blood in my body was now from somebody else.

While it was happening I remember being in the theatre looking across at my husband and the babies, feeling my life force drain out of me and wondering if they were going to be ok without me.

When I finally reached the recovery ward, the shock of going through the labour and finally realising that we were all going to be ok, really hit home. I cried uncontrollably and my body was in such shock I was uncontrollably shaking for hours afterwards.

I know I’m not the only one to have gone through such a traumatic labour, but women don’t talk about it. We brush ourselves off and get on with the job as soon as we’re able to. But that kind of birth has lasting effects.

It’s made me so grateful and in awe of the medical team at my hospital.

It’s made me appreciate each day, all the ups and downs of parenting because it’s a privilege that I made it.

It’s made me admire all the other women before me who have gone through a difficult labour.

It’s made me so thankful to everyone who has ever donated their blood.

It has made me weak with sadness that women all over the world do still die from PPH.

It has made me determined to do something to help other women.

For Christmas I’m getting involved with Maternity Worldwide who do great work to save lives of women and babies across the world.

For a start, this Christmas, instead of presents, I’m asking people to take part in a Pounds For Presents idea where family and friends can donate money to Maternity Worldwide instead of buying well-intended gifts. A donation for Maternity Worldwide can certainly go further and make much more of a difference.

I’d love to hear your stories of childbirth or if you’ve been through a PPH. If you’re a childbirth survivor (I’ll be using the hashtag #CBSurvivor) then let’s all be proud of it, and let’s make a difference together.

We owe it to those who saved our lives and allowed us to become proud mummies and happy families. Surely every woman and child deserves that?

#CBSurvivor and proud.


Donate or find out more about Maternity Worldwide here.

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  • Reply Chelci November 18, 2015 at 12:46 pm

    This such an incredibly harrowing story and one that should be shared.
    I would like to feature you as a guest author on our maternal health blog, if you would be interested? I would be honoured to share your story in your words. I work with the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine on an international effort to reduce postpartum haemorrhage called the WOMAN trial. Have you heard of WOMAN before? It is testing a well used drug (tranexamic acid) in postpartum haemorrhage to try and treat this and reduce the number of women who sadly lose the battle with blood loss.
    If you would be interested please drop me a quick email and we can discuss this further.
    My email is chelci.squires@lshtm.ac.uk

    You can also visit the website for more info: http://www.womantrial.lshtm.ac.uk

    • Reply ursulabrunetti November 26, 2015 at 9:42 pm

      Thanks again for getting in touch – I’d be happy to share my story. I think it’s so important that pepole have conversations about this. xx

  • Reply emma November 7, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    what an incredible and yet harrowing story… can so easily go one of two ways, as you say..
    lets definitely discuss…
    e xx

  • Reply Charlotte November 6, 2015 at 6:59 am

    My experience was extremely similar to yours! I had PPP with my son nearly 4 years ago. It was horrendous. I think I was a little out of it to be honest, I had the same kind of memory as you, getting wheeled out of the room on the way to theatre, looking over at my husband… And I just stuck my thumb up at him! I was a bit clueless as to how bad it actually was! I ended up having two blood transfusions in the end. And same as you, lots of medication, injections and things once I got home. All over Christmas!
    Sometimes when I talk about it to people, it kinda freaks me out a little at the thought of what could have happened. And I don’t want to scare other pregnant women! But PPP is not something you ever really hear about unless you know someone who’s been through it.
    Well done you for writing about it and I hope you and your family are over it now, pop those memories in a box of ones that just make you a stronger person! X

    • Reply ursulabrunetti November 6, 2015 at 7:22 am

      Thanks for your lovely comments. I feel the same- like maybe I shouldn’t tell people my birth story but I think it’s important to talk about what can happen. So glad you and your family are ok now. Makes you grateful for everyday xxx

  • Reply Jessica Powell November 5, 2015 at 2:12 pm

    It’s terrifying how dangerous childbirth still is, even in the fully equipped hospitals of the west. I had a ruptured placenta – I arrived at hospital for a scheduled induction as I was 12 days overdue, and within 10 minutes I was under general anaesthetic for a crash section. (I wrote a full post about it here – http://babiafi.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/how-late-is-too-late-when-youre-12-days.html) It’s the silly little things that still get to me about it, like when people talk about the pain of labour (I never had a single labour pain so no idea…), etc. 🙂

    • Reply ursulabrunetti November 5, 2015 at 9:29 pm

      Wow, you’re one brave lady. Just read your blog post and really feel for you. You and your daughter are very lucky indeed xxx

  • Reply Mummy of 3 boys November 5, 2015 at 1:40 pm

    Yes I had pph with my first birth luckily all was under control 2nd birth no probs and 3rd birth class 1 hellp syndrome. No body talks about what could go wrong.

    • Reply ursulabrunetti November 5, 2015 at 9:31 pm

      It’s all quite underground isn’t it? Women who have had a traumatic labour just sweep it under the rug and all you end up hearing about labour is the trivialisation of pain and screaming etc. It’s about saving lives a lot more than I thought. xxx

  • Reply Emma November 5, 2015 at 1:15 pm

    I had a pph, balloon and transfusion with my first child too. I then had a difficult but equally traumatic birth with my second as she had shoulder dystopia. I agree it’s really important to talk about it. Thanks for writing this post x

  • Reply Su Tyler November 5, 2015 at 11:49 am

    Oh my goodness.. what a traumatic start to Motherhood. Thank goodness you had the medical know-how ready to save you.

  • Reply Laura November 5, 2015 at 11:38 am

    Oh wow what a scary journey to have to take during and after labour, so good that you are sharing this and increasing awareness

    Laura x

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