Childbirth is an incredible experience, but it is also unpredictable and often presents dangers to both mother and baby. I have given birth four times and each labour has been different but they have all involved degrees of risk. Fortunately they all resulted in the safe delivery of healthy babies. But things can, and do, go wrong and even a safe delivery can result in postnatal complications as I experienced.
My obstetrician was holidaying in the Maldives for the birth of my third daughter – a trip I may have singlehandedly funded J. I was one day over my EDD (estimated due date). My labour was spontaneous and progressed quickly. When the primal noises escaping me indicated it was “go time”, it took just two powerful pushes and my baby was born. Another beautiful daughter – I felt like the luckiest mama in the world.
My scary postpartum haemorrhage
Thirteen days later I started bleeding. I was at home when I started to feel unwell. I lay down on the sofa while my baby was sleeping (something I strongly recommend). But when she woke up and I stood up, a pool of blood gushed out of me. When my bleed began I was startled but not scared initially. But very quickly it became obvious that something was wrong. I paged my OB who told me to come into the hospital immediately.
The following 24 hours were traumatic. After being hooked up to IV antibiotics and “observed” for several hours, my OB left and said he would return the following morning to arrange an ultrasound. He thought it was a possible infection and the blood loss had appeared to stabilise. However that night my blood loss escalated to “serious” and in the early hours of the morning, my OB returned and I was rushed to theatre. Everything then happened so quickly. There was no time for my husband to come back in.
My baby was feeding at my breast as they prepped me for theatre. I will never forget feeling so vulnerable and alone and terrified in that moment. A lovely midwife took my baby from me as the anaesthetist went in. I remember she dabbed at my eyes with a tissue as two silent tears ran down my cheeks. My OB gently patted my hand and assured me it was going to be OK.
During the surgery my OB performed a curette, inserted a balloon device into my uterus to control the bleeding and restitched my episiotomy stitches that had split. I was also given a blood transfusion and I was later told that I narrowly avoided a hysterectomy. I think back to that now and feel so incredibly grateful that I was given the opportunity to have another child.
The exact cause of my postpartum hemorrhage was unclear. Apparently a secondary postpartum hemorrhage affects approximately 1% of women following childbirth. So I was unlucky in that sense, but lucky to live in a country with first-rate medical care. I was so grateful for having private health insurance. I was able to stay in hospital, in a private room, for a week following my procedure. The medical care I received was outstanding and I was not discharged until I felt well enough and ready to go home.
I remember once thinking that I couldn’t afford private health insurance. But my dad told me I couldn’t afford not to have it. And he was right. I have used it on many occasions since this experience for my children who have each had hospital procedures, fortunately the non-serious variety!
The truth is, you never know when you will fall ill and need specialist care. Having private health insurance means you can choose your doctor who is a fully-trained specialist and the hospital you want to be treated at. You receive consistent care from the same specialist who knows you and your condition – something not guaranteed through the public system. This gave me great comfort in my time of need and made a traumatic experience a little less scary.
Have you ever used private health? To win a weekly Eftpos voucher worth $200 and be in the running to win a major $2000 Eftpos voucher – tell us about how your health fund, private specialist or private hospital has gone the extra mile when you needed them. Simply visit the Private Health Public Benefit website and explain WHY you have private health insurance – this may be a story of when you have used it or you’ve been lucky enough not to, but enjoy the peace of mind it provides.
Postscript: I forgave my OB for being in the Maldives for my baby’s delivery. He was there when I really needed him 🙂
*This post was brought to you by Private Healthcare Australia