Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Maternal Mortality: Childbirth Almost Killed Me

Every other day a pregnant or recently pregnant woman dies in the U.K. 2/3 of maternal mobidity aren't due to pregnancy itself, but a medical or mental health condition. During or immediately after pregnancy 23% of maternal deaths are cause by CARDIAC CONDITIONS14% are caused by PNEUMONIA or INFLUENZA and 11% are caused by INFECTION/SEPSIS

Maternal Deaths are the second biggest killer of women at a reproductive age.  Every year approximately 287,000 women die from complications in the pregnancy, childbirth or in the first 42 days after of giving birth.  98% of these deaths are in developing countries.  In terms of the U.K, research shows the percentage of maternal deaths are decreasing every year, but it's still happening, it's still an issue that shouldn't be ignored.  

In my experience, some doctors and other medical professionals are becoming complacent, as mortality rates are so low, serious conditions aren't in the forefront of their minds when women report their symptoms.  It's diagnosed as 'normal pregnancy issues, everyone copes with pregnancy differently' or 'you've just had a baby this is part of the recovery process.'  It's not. After having Oscar my symptoms were ignored, Brett nearly lost his wife and Emelia and Oscar left without a mum.  Sounds dramatic doesn't it?  But it's a fact and I want to do everything I can to raise awareness about maternal deaths so that no other family has to go through what we did, or worse. 

If you've read my labour and delivery story you'll know I had a pretty horrendous time, unfortunately that was just the start of it, my recovery was even worse.  The day after Oscar was born I felt sore and just generally unwell, sore was going to be the case for a while having gone through a major operation, but it wasn't just sore, the pain was excruciating.  I could barely move or breathe.  As the week progressed things just got worse, I was having chills, fevers, I had an awful cough (which I avoided as much as I could because to cough was to impose further pain) and my chest felt as though it was being crushed. I spoke to every doctor/nurse/midwife that I came into contact with and they all told me I was fine, it was normal to experience these things after having a c-section, and having a baby in intensive care and having had a traumatic c-section I was just being paranoid that something else would go wrong. 

I said to Brett countless times, "it's not normal to be in this much pain, I can barely move!"  At times I'd have to crawl and if I managed to stand up I was bent over almost in half sliding along a wall or whatever I could use to assist me.  One night the pain was so intensive I couldn't even lift my arm to pick up my phone to call for help.  I lay in bed for 6 hours until someone came in to check on me.  I could tell in my body I was unwell, but what was I do to, I'm not a doctor, they were all telling me I was fine.  So I must be, right?

10 days post operation I went to see one of the GP's.  Whilst waiting, my midwife was free so I went to see him briefly for a chat about Oscar (who was still in NICU).  He could tell from looking at me that I wasn't well, after listening to my symptoms he examined my tummy which was extremely painful.  He said my uterus was higher than it should be at this stage.  He made some notes on the system and told me I should expect to be sent back to hospital, as I was seeing the GP he was leaving it to her to refer me.  Well, could the GP appointment have been anymore of a waste of time?  No, I don't think it could, she told me everything was ok, and yes I was tender and in a lot of pain but it can be normal post section.  Pain and discomfort to some degree following any operation, especially a section is normal, but what I was experiencing was not.  Fast forward to later that day when my phone rang, it was my midwife, who had spoken to my consultant directly to get me back into hospital, he told us we had to go straight away. 

I was admitted on the Thursday evening, I was given copious amounts of IV fluids and antibiotics.  Sunday came and I wasn't getting any better, I was weak and needed to sleep all the time, my blood pressure reducing and my temperature soaring.  I had contracted MRSA internally and externally on my c-section wound, I had pneumonia and sepsis. My whole body hurt and I had an overwhelming feeling of fear that I wasn't going to be leaving that room.  The way the nurses and doctors looked at me was enough to confirm the fear of dying that I had wasn't unjustified.  As time progressed and after my antibiotics were changed, my infection levels began to reduce, as did my fever.  I began to feel better and was eventually allowed home with a concoction of tablets and regular blood tests.  

I consider myself extremely lucky to have had a fantastic midwife and consultant who took me seriously, who went out of their way to get me back into hospital and ultimately, saved my life.  This experience has made me so passionate to raise awareness and try to prevent other women and families going through what we did.  Always listen to your body, be guided by your doctor, but if you still feel unwell and aren't happy with what they've said, ask for a second opinion.  It's your right. It's your life

We are fortunate in the U.K to have excellent medical care, women in developing countries aren't in the same position and mortality rate is much higher.  Women & Children First are a charity devoted to improving reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health.  They work in many developing countries including Africa and India. Everyday, across the world, 1,000 women die from giving birth.  There are many ways you can help raise awareness and help Women & Children First if you'd like to, whether it's simply following them on Twitter or Facebook, taking part in or creating a charity event or donating via their website

Having a baby should be the most incredible thing a woman does in her life, it shouldn't be the reason she dies. Working together to raise awareness will improve women's care and save lives.  Having studied the MBRRACE-UK 2016 report I have learnt about the Three P's in a Pod, please keep the following in mind if you're pregnant, know someone who is or have recently had a baby: 

Think Chest - cardiac conditions, pneumonia or influenza, venous thrombi-embolism

Think Head - Neurological conditions & Mental Health disorders. 

Pick It Up 
Think High Risk - Pick up the phone.  Pick up the problem.

*This post was not written in collaboration with Women & Children First, it's a matter that is close to my heart and I feel it is important to raise awareness.


  1. What a horrendous experience and so scary! You are really brave. No wonder you want Brett to have the snip haha!!

  2. What a scary experience, I can't believe they let you live like that for so long afterwards!!

  3. That statistic is horrifying. I never knew that in this day and age it could be as high as that. Your experience sounds just awful. Thank goodness you had a good care team looking after you. The alternative doesn't bear thinking about.

    Jenna at Tinyfootsteps xx

  4. Oh Rebecca what an awful thing to go through! Thank god you're ok now! Xx

    Glossy Boutique

  5. Gosh this sounds so scary. I had no idea you went though this! So glad you're ok now babe xxxx