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When will I get better? Traumatic birth left with three haematomas and pain.

(12 Posts)
applesauce1 Fri 25-Jan-19 17:36:06

I'm looking for women who've had similar experiences and come out the other side.

Most of my birth was straightforward. Waters broke at 6am bang on my due date. Contractions started half an hour later. Started at 8 minutes apart. Went for a walk with my husband, had a bath, practised my hypnobirthing breathing. I was feeling in control.
My husband rang the midwife unit to keep them updated with my progress. They didn't ask us to come in until my contractions were 2.5 minutes apart. We live 35-40 minutes from the hospital.

When I arrived 7 hours after waters broke, the midwife said I was 8cm dilated. She also stated, "this will be quick".

I spent hours in the birthing pool. My hypnobirthing teacher and the midwife told me my body would take over and that I wouldn't need to actively push (what a joke!). I let my body do the pushing for about 2 hours. The midwife then suggested I start bearing down. I didn't really know what that meant.

11 hours after my labour started, and three and a half hours into second stage labour, the midwife changeover brought a new midwife in, who coached me in how to actually push effectively. My baby quickly crowned, but after another hour and a half, he had still not come out. At this point, I'd been doing fine on gas and air, and was disappointed that my baby still wasn't here.

I was taken to the delivery ward where a consultant told me they'd need to give me a spinal, an episiotomy and forceps my baby out. They also discovered that baby had turned back to back, and that his neck was bent backwards, stopping him from coming out.

After the spinal, two different surgeons tried three times to turn my baby to allow a forceps delivery. My husband said their arms were covered in blood up to the elbows. Following every attempt, my baby twisted back again after they removed their arms. They explained they'd have to do an emergency caesarean. The anaesthetist checked my abdomen to see how far I was numb. I have previously shown resistance to anaesthetic at the dentist and during a cervical treatment, and yet again, I wasn't numb far up enough for them to perform the caesarean.

They asked my husband to leave the room so that they could perform the caesarean under general anaesthetic. It wasn't how I'd wanted my birth to be, but I know you can't plan these things and just wanted my baby out safely.

Baby was born at 00:21 the day after labour started. I was taken to a delivery ward room and rested. I was told that they'd found a 300ml vaginal haematoma during the caesarean. They'd made a 3cm cut to drain it, and put two rolls of gauze into me. They attempted to remove this a few hours later which was agony. I needed gas and air to cope.
Bear in mind, I have a very high pain threshold. I got to 8cm at home and have been brought up to be brave and not complain.

At 6pm, the same day my baby was born, the midwives noticed that I looked pale. They tested my blood and discovered that my haemoglobin was 70. Lower than the levels recommended for transfusion.
They said that my blood might be diluted or that I lost more blood in surgery than they thought and decided to wait and see.
They tested my blood again 12 hours later and my HG levels were down to 40. They realised I was bleeding internally. They needed my blood to be brought in on a motorbike and I had 4 units transfused. They also made me go 14 hours nil by mouth while they decided whether to open me up again to investigate.

I had a CT scan and it was found that the vaginal haematoma had filled up again, and that I'd bled into my abdomen 800ml forming a broad ligament haematoma.

I was in agony and couldn't walk/get out of bed for four days. I couldn't sit up. I couldn't change any of my baby's nappies. I was so upset. The only thing I could do was breastfeed. Thankfully, he was great at feeding and put on a pound and a half during our 11 nights stay in hospital. When they removed my catheter, they realised how immobile I really was (due to the crippling pain in my abdomen) and moved me to a private room on the post delivery ward.

My husband, Mum and MIL took shifts looking after my baby and me.

Four days after delivery, I noticed that my previously flatish tummy was swelling just above my scar. This was where most of my pain was located. Over my 11 day stay, I complained of the increasing swelling and pain at least three times a day to various midwives, but kept being told that it was normal, despite barely being able to walk. On day 8, I was given an internal ultrasound and external shallow scan (both horrendously painful). The sonographer said there was a fluid built up under my scar and said that it must be causing me a lot of pain.
Consultants and midwives both assured me that this fluid and swelling was totally normal.
Three weeks PP, the ultrasounds were repeated and it was discovered that the broad ligament haematoma had increased to 1 litre in size, but had probably blocked off its own source, and so they would leave it to be absorbed my body over the next SIX MONTHS. In the meantime, I'd be extremely prone to infection and need to take my temperature daily.

I know this is incredibly long so I will wrap up: I couldn't get out of bed or sit up unaided for four days. I couldn't walk upstairs for two weeks. I'm still in pain every day 6 weeks PP. I can't stand to be touched or have clothes against the swelling as it is so painful. I've already been back on antibiotics following the two drip courses and one oral course of antibiotics in hospital due to infections in the haematomas.

Is this really normal? I am grateful to have my healthy baby boy, but I am so sad that I have been left so ruined and in so much pain.

Well done to anyone who read to the end!

OP’s posts: |
applesauce1 Fri 25-Jan-19 19:36:29

Anyone at all...?

OP’s posts: |
celeryeater Fri 25-Jan-19 19:50:18

I'm sorry I have no experience but just wanted to say bloody hell you have been through the mill! I think you should trust your instincts on this and if you don't feel right keep going back to the doctors or contact your midwife or health visitor even just to talk through what you're going through. You were right about the swelling before despite being told that was normal. I really hope you are doing OK and managing with the baby. Well done for being able to breastfeed while going through so much.

DoctoraNova Fri 25-Jan-19 20:04:10


I'm a practising medical doctor, although a paediatrician, not an obstetrician. No, it doesn't sound normal, in the sense that your experience and complications are not common. Unfortunately, child birth still has a lot of hidden risks, and it doesn't sound impossible, but very unlucky.

A debrief with both the midwifery team and the consultant who's care yy were under, if available to you, may be useful to help you to understand what happened to you and why, and to understand if there was any negligence, or if your care was correct,
even though ultimately you did develop painful complications.

If it's any consolation, I think you are still very, very early days post partum and I'm sure that you are yet to see great leaps in your recovery process. Even after a physiological labour, a women six weeks post partum can expect a good degree of discomfort, pain and sensations of prolapse which later recover completely without further intervention.

Are you in close follow up with a consultant obstetrician? Have you been discharged from midwife care already? Are you attending a physiotherapist? Have you recovered from the anaemia? Do yu have help and support at home? How are yy feeling mentally? These are avenues of support to consider, as sources of symptomatic improvement.

I wish you all the best and am sincerely sorry for the traumatic experience you have had. I hope it doesn't rob you of the joy of your newborn child. Congratulations.


applesauce1 Fri 25-Jan-19 20:38:15

@celeryeater Thank you. I have been very lucky with breastfeeding. I feel that I would have been very distressed to have been able to offer nothing at all to my son for those first weeks. I'm so glad my milk came in so well, despite that day of nil by mouth. It's been as good for me as it has for him.

I've been in regular contact with gps and midwives. I've got antibiotics in the house for the inevitable next time I get an infection (says the doctor), I'm trying to ignore my instincts to be brave and carry on, and listen to my body. X

OP’s posts: |
applesauce1 Fri 25-Jan-19 20:56:06

Lu all the best and am sincerely sorry for the traumatic experience you have had. I hope it doesn't rob you of the joy of your newborn child. Congratulations.

@DoctoraNova thank you for taking the time to write such a detailed reply.
I have a debrief next week, although the letter regarding the appointment did not state that it was a debrief and the location is at a different hospital. I only found out today that it was the debrief when I called enquiring about what the appt was for. It's put my husband in an awkward position rearranging meetings in order to attend.

It is still early days. That is reassuring to hear.

I have no idea when my follow up with an obstetrician will be. I only have my 6 week check booked in. I'd hoped for a plan to be put in place for ultrasounds to check the progress of these haematomas being absorbed.
I was discharged from midwifery care yesterday.
I've had a post natal physio appointment and have a follow up appointment booked in.
I've recovered from the anaemia and my support network is amazing. My MIL has taken on our ironing, my husband and Hello Fresh are sorting out supper and I have friends and family around who can't do enough for us. It overwhelms me how lucky I am with support. I'm lucky.

RE My mental health, I am struggling with the following things:
- I could have died as a result of being left to bleed internally for 12 hours. The thought of leaving my son without a mother horrified me.
- I am sad that no one listened to me about the shallow haematoma as it could have been drained and my pain could have been significantly reduced.

Prior to birth, I was still very fit and active. I swam every other day and walked daily until the week of my labour. To look at me now, people don't know what is going on in my body. I'm back to my pre-pregnancy size and I can smile and bluff my way through the worst of it, but I find it so hard to cope with what I CAN'T do now. On a bad day, I can't sit up using my abdominal muscles, and have to flop sideways and use my legs, or rely on my arms to shuffle myself up. I just feel useless. I'm trying so hard to be strong and say that I'm fine, because I am, I suppose. I'm alive and I have a beautiful son. I love our new life as a family. Some people suffer far worse than I have, so how can I not say I'm fine?
I'm trying to reduce my dose of Tramadol and just rely on paracetamol and Ibuprofen, but it just hurts more...

OP’s posts: |
Honeybee79 Sat 26-Jan-19 17:08:41

I op. I'm not qualified to comment on the care you received etc, but just wanted to say it sounds like with one thing and another you have had an awful time and it sounds like you are getting through it amazingly well.

6 weeks is still early days. I had an EMCS with my son 8 years ago and had various complications. I was not in great shape at 6 weeks post partum, either mentally or physically. By 12 - 15 weeks I had made much more progress and was up and running. It took me a long time to get over the birth, psychologically, and I chose elective sections for my second and third kids.

Please be kind to yourself and cut yourself some slack. You have been through the mill - it is OK not to be "fine", you're not being a wimp or ungrateful for your family, please don't think that! You're healing, give yourself a bit of time. I know how hard that is, as a very active and sporty person I have also struggled with feeling incapable. You'll get there!

DoctoraNova Sun 27-Jan-19 10:37:38

Hi OP,

I hope the debrief is useful for you. Try to think about any questions you have, to clarify what exactly it is that you want to know. They will probably start by going through the events step by step. Clarify the follow up plan with what medical or surgical teams, and don't forget to discuss options for obstetric care for the future. If you are not happy that they have dealt with all your queries, or if you feel thay you weren't listened to properly, ask for a second date before you leave. It will probably be emotional, it's a good idea for the husband to be there. You had a very difficult time, and you deserve the time and care for them to explain to you in a way that you can understand and assimilate what happened to you.

It is very early days yet, remember it's always darkest before dawn. You will continue to improve. There's no reason to think you won't make a full recovery. Take it day by day, step by step. I'm sorry this has happened to you, and that you are going through this, and I'm sure you and your family are gutted too. But you will recover.

Ask at your six week appointment about a referral to a psychologist, a psychotherapist or a psychiatrist for a mental health evaluation. There may be more support available to you, in terms of dealing with the experience and how you are feeling about it now, especially if you have intrusive thoughts, or you feel it's preventing yu from being able to enjoy your life. I bet you are sad, and angry too and what seems like a preventable outcome, with the benefit of hindsight. That's a totally understandable reaction, and hopefully your teams can help you to understand better how and why they made the decisions that they did. Sometimes, doctors act in the best of faith, according to best care guidelines, and yet still patients suffer complications and bear the consequences. I think it's good for everyone to make it clear that you are suffering, and things could have gone better. It will help you, it will help your teams, and it will help other patients. It wasn't your fault, you did nothing wrong, and yet you are suffering. I understand.

Bring active, fit and strong before labour is almost certainly helping you to recover physically, and if you are used to pushing your limits physically, that helps to develop resilience and better mental health too. I undertsand your frustration at not being able to do simple things you did before. Your core strength will come back, every post partum women has a weakened core. That is normal, and affected more by the pregnancy than by the birth. Yours more so, but it will improve. Everything that you have done and used to do before will give you the strenght and motivation you need on the oath to recovery. Draw on your previous experiences and challenges to help you though this one. Remember, it's early days, and in the future you most likely will be able to do everything you did before.

Three more small things:
Pelvic floor work: hypopressives and Kegels and pelvic tilting.
It's not a good idea to reduce your painkillers if you still have pain. There is no need to suffer.
Don't ignore your instinct. Ever.

Take care OP, and good luck.

Snowmaggedon Sat 02-Feb-19 14:12:23

Op the utterly shocking thing is.... People in pain in hospital don't tend to get listened too.

It's extraordinary.
I don't know why..

Op this is so awful for you. Your probably thinking you'll never go thru this again but a planned calm elc is fabulous and get rid of these atrocious hidden risks of cb.

Agree its still very early days for you even without all this.

RichTeabiscuit123 Sun 03-Feb-19 15:01:09

I've been a mumsnet lurker for ages but your post prompted me to actually register so I could reply.

I also had a traumatic birth to my lovely DD, although in comparison to your experience I think we got off far easier. You have been through the absolute ringer and you are AN INCREDIBLE WOMAN. With all that you've been through your being a fantastic mum to your lovely baby and although it may not feel like it you are already on your path to recovery.

6 weeks pp is still very very early days both emotionally and physically and you must be kind to yourself. I comepletely understand the frustration - I used to burst into tears daily with the shuffling and everything being so awkward to do. But at the end of the day you will get back to everything later on and for now just enjoy being with your little one. It really does fly by and they are only so tiny and snuggly for so long.

There will be others who if they've not had exactly the same experience, there will be comparisons in how you have both felt. Talk, talk, talk and talk some more it really will help.

Remember what you have done is amazing. You have made this perfect little human and brought them into the world. All your baby needs is your love and some milk which can be sorted under a duvet taking it easy while you recover. Everything else really can wait.

P.s. currently juggling DD and typing so please excuse all grammar and spelling!

DelphiMum Sun 03-Feb-19 22:50:43

It is rare I read a birth story worse than my first but wow, you have endured a lot. You are brave.

Make sure you get a referral to a women’s health physio to help you rebuild your pelvic floor and health so you can get on the road to recovery.

Don’t expect GPs to be able to properly check you / make sure you stay on the hospital’s radar.

Go to a birth afterthoughts session at some point later. This is where a consultant sits down with you and goes through everything that happened and you can read your own notes. It’s helpful to know what happened and why.

Take care

MaBaker2020 Sun 24-May-20 15:22:51

Applesauce - I know this was over a year ago but I wondered how you are now. I have just had a similar experience. I’m 2 weeks post birth and surgery now and back at home. I was in hospital for a week with several haematomas, had 2 spinals, 2 surgeries, a blood transfusion and similar to you I could sit up or move for 3 days and progress has been slow. My pain relief has been dropped and I can now walk around a bit but I still can’t sit down and below is numb and still so very swollen.
I just wondered how you are now? I’ve been told recovery is slow and long and like you I used to be fit and Active and now feel like useless. My partner is 12 years younger than me and although he’s been nothing but supportive I worry that it’s now like he’s my carer and I worry I may have permanent numbness or damage below.
I cried reading your post and I do hope you came through the other side x

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