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.