Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Postpartum Complication: PPH

Giving birth is a scary process.  Perhaps especially the first time we go through it. There are so many unknowns.  Just how much pain will I endure?  Will the baby that I carried for so many months come out healthy?  Will I make it?

My first child was delivered via c-section.  I've accepted it (even embraced it in the sense that he and I both remained healthy and safe during delivery).  I decided I would go ahead with the c-section for my second baby as well (in September 2012).

I wasn't as nervous going into things the second time.  I still had major butterflies in my stomach.  I still shook as the anesthesiologist had me hunch over on a cold surgical table for the extremely long silver needle that was to go into my spine.  And I still squeezed my husband's hand very tightly as the tugging and pulling on my stomach felt increasingly aggressive as my doctor retrieved my daughter.

But at least I had been through all of it before; there were fewer unknowns.  It was still frightening, but not completely new.  Immediately after my daughter's birth, we experienced the exquisite joy that I think one only feels when they welcome a new baby into the world.  Pride.  Happiness.  Relief.

However, within a couple hours (minutes?), I started losing a lot of blood.  I remembered this from when I had my son (even though I hadn't at the time known bleeding occurred with a c-section), but this time, there was a lot more.  And it wasn't subsiding.  The nurses were starting to get more serious, and they brought in other nurses.  They whispered a lot.  My doctor was called.  Suddenly I was being wheeled into another section of the post-delivery area of the hospital for intensive care.

I won't go into the various manual and medical procedures I went through over the next few hours to stop the bleeding and prevent a blood transfusion.  Frankly, I was so out of it from pain (epidural had worn off) and exhaustion at that point that it is all kind of foggy.

People who shrug off c-sections as being easy used to bother me.  It made me defensive and sensitive.  But after my hemorrhaging experience, those opinions and judgement simply sound ignorant.  I write this post-- a definite break from my usual lighthearted tone-- to raise awareness of a complication that, if it can't be avoided, can at least be known.  Because while it might seem alarmist to call attention to all of the risks that come with birth, it might also help at least one person feel a little more prepared or raise awareness of the issue in general.

Postpartum hemorrhages (PPH) can occur in a vaginal birth or a c-section (in about 6% of all births).  It is the leading cause of maternal mortality (though if you are fortunate enough to live in a developed country, risk of death from PPH is much lower).

I did not fit any of the risk factors, such as clotting disorders, heart issues, severe preeclampsia.

I write this birth story so that if there are any pregnant women out there reading, they can choose to ask their doctor, "if this happens, what would be the plan?"  Sometimes it is comforting to have a game plan.

All of that said, I wish all of my pregnant readers as healthy a birth experience as possible. Regardless of how your baby is brought into the world, no one can take away your joy when you first get to hold him or her!

Click here for more information on PPH.

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

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