post-labor complications

As promised, I wanted to tell you about the little scare we had after my amazingly “easy” and short labor. I’m not doing this to scare anyone but I also don’t want to give the impression that my labor was completely free of complication.

About two hours after our little sweetheart was born, I asked Hubby for a Kashi bar from our labor bag.  He handed it to me, I had eaten about half, and then I started to feel lightheaded.  The pediatrician was in our room, examining our baby for the first time in the hospital basinette.  I told Hubby, “I don’t feel so good” or “I don’t feel right” — something like that.

The nurses had been monitoring my blood pressure which had been a little higher than normal after birth and since the midwife had left.  Now my blood pressure dropped rapidly to about 70 (or maybe 60?) over 20. I felt very strange, like I might black out, and I felt like I should try to stay awake.  Everything seemed to go into a kind of fog where I was aware of what was happening around me but I wasn’t fully present. 

The nurse started bustling around and other nurses and techs were called into the room.  First they gave me a bag of fluids and then they catheterized me to take any pressure away that my bladder might be putting on my uterus.  My blood pressure remained low.  I had felt like maybe I was bleeding too much (the midwife had given me a shot of pitocin in the thigh after labor because she said I was bleeding a little more than was typical, which I agreed was good for her to do — my number one priority was to stay healthy). The nurses seemed to be taking forever doing other things and just kind of moving around the room and I finally reminded them to check my bleeding.  When they did they were concerned with the amount they saw, and started more pitocin in my drip.  I also got a shot of methergen to help my uterus contract.

Although my midwife had done it after birth as well, the nurse started compressing my uterus to try to move any clots that may have still remained.  I have to admit that this was the only part of my labor or post-labor that really frightened me…the beeping from the machines, the interventions (that I felt were completely necessary), the growing number of hospital staff in the room. Finally the nurse asked me to raise my hips off the bed as she compressed on my abdomen. As I did that, two LARGE clots shot out of me. Hubby said they were as big as probably a small bunch of bananas…wow!

As soon as that happened, my blood pressure began to stabilize.  They monitored me in the room for a few more hours and then our little family was finally able to go to the recovery room on the sixth floor where we spent the next night before we went home.  While all that was happening, Hubby was calm and I was calm and focused on staying alert and awake, but after we were settled back at home he and I cried about it together and admitted that it really scared us.  We heard from several that it is somewhat common, especially with fast labors.

The experience did make me wonder whether I’d be a good candidate for a home birth, which Hubby and I have talked about having for future births.  My bleeding did not classify as a hemorrhage — it was about 350 mL lost, I heard from my midwife later. I’m not sure what classifies as a hemorrhage, and I think perhaps a home birth midwife could handle that circumstance just fine.  If anyone is reading this who might know, could you let me know your opinion? I’d love to hear it.

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6 thoughts on “post-labor complications

  1. I’m glad my sweetie was ok! That was pretty scary, but I’m glad everything stabilized relatively quickly. I love my wife and baby!

  2. At home we (midwives) take blood loss very seriously. Not just because we don’t want women to bleed in that moment, but also because too much blood loss can make a mama more fatigued down the line and have a longer healing time.

    After a birth we are constantly assessing the mother’s well-being, birth visually (without her even knowing) and physically. We frequently feel the size and shape of her uterus, take her vitals, and observe the quantity of blood loss.

    When we believe a mother is bleeding too much we have a protocol to follow that includes many of the things you experienced in the hospital including IV fluids and a urine catheter. Methergine actually is no longer a drug of choice in many areas (both in the hospital and at home) and I have not used it in ages.

    Clots can be pesky, and they tend to just sit up in the uterus — one reason why we regularly feel your uterus/fundus to see if there are clots in there, and we instruct women how to feel it for themselves so that after we leave they can continue checking in with what their uterus is doing.
    By the time a woman’s blood pressure has dropped, she has already bled too much. I was not there so I cannot be sure why it wasn’t picked up earlier in your case. Were the nurses feeling your belly often?

    Every birth is different. Sometimes things happen in labor and birth that contribute to hemorrhage. Sometimes there is an emotional component as well, particularly if mother’s needs are not being heard or met. Sometimes things just happen and we have no idea why.

    I am happy talk more. I don’t see any reason why this wouldn’t have been handled just fine at home, and it is possible that it would have been recognized earlier, who knows? ps: we always do the newborn exam with baby right next to mama.

    Congratulations !!!

    • Erin, thank you so much for taking the time to read my post and sharing your insight! I really appreciate it. I shared it with my husband too and we will definitely keep an open mind to a home birth in the future. Thanks again!!

  3. Pingback: what surprised me about childbirth « spirit and seed

  4. So this is really old but I’m just now seeing it, thanks to your FB post. 😉 While of course only you can decide if a home birth is right for you, I want to assure you that home birth midwives (at least the ones in the practice we used, and the three others we interviewed) bring Pitocin and/or methergine with them to births and are well trained in assessing blood loss and knowing when it’s appropriate to administer Pitocin or transfer to a hospital.

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