Real births: Carrie goes into labour prematurely at 30 weeks

Carrie shares her experience of placenta previa, premature birth and a baby in special care

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Carrie was told she had placenta previa (where your placenta is lying unusually low in your uterus, next to or covering your cervix) when she was 20 weeks’ pregnant, so she knew there was a possibility that her baby’s birth may not be a straightforward one. At 30 weeks, she had a big bleed. She was taken straight to hospital and went into labour 6 days later. Baby Samuel spent 3 and a half weeks in the SCBU (Special Care Baby Unit) before coming home.

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Here’s Carrie’s story, in her own words:

‘I saw blood. Cue huge panic’

“My bump had been aching underneath whilst I was at work, but I’d put it down to its ever increasing size. The baby was kicking a lot that evening as I watched TV. I went to the loo before bed, saw bright red blood and then haemorrhaged massively. Cue huge panic and a rapid drive to hospital. I was very grateful I was at home with my husband at the time and not alone.

“I was taken straight up to the central delivery unit and was hooked up to monitors etc. My baby was still fine and kicking. The monitors showed some contractions (and I could feel them). I continued to bleed a lot, I lost about half a litre of blood since arriving at the hospital.

I was warned it was likely I would have to have an emergency C-section but that they would try and hold off as long as possible. They put a canula in and I was given some pethidine for the pain.”

Watch and wait on the antenatal ward

“The bleeding slowed down, so I was moved to the antenatal ward. I started to feel a bit more positive and I was told I could go home if the bleeding stopped for 48 hours. Although, to be honest, I thought I’d be really nervous if I did get out, in case it happened again.”

“The next day, I felt as though I had really bad trapped wind that just wouldn’t ease. I had a bit of a lie down and felt a considerable amount of blood loss. I was rushed back to central delivery and gowned up, in case I had to go in to theatre. Thankfully, my baby was still fine.

“They told me it was going to be a matter of staying in until 38 weeks, if I made it that far. By this point, I was starting to get really stressed. I made it through the night and started to feel a bit better, but I was fed up at the thought of staying in for so long.

“They took us around the SCBU but warned us that it was full. So if our baby arrived soon, he or she would have to be transferred out to another hospital about 30 miles away from home, as I was not in a fit state to be transferred before the birth.”

 Labour pains?

“At 30 weeks and 5 days, I started to get a real ache low down in my bump again. They gave me some paracetamol and codeine, which did very little. I was told it was probably just my uterus being irritated by the bleeding. I hardly slept that night; every time I drifted off, the contractions would wake me up.

“I felt very alone and scared. I didn’t want to call my husband as I knew he’d be worried. I have a high pain threshold, but I was crying through the night.

“I hardly slept that night as, every time I drifted off, the contractions would wake me up.”

The 30-minute delivery 

“The next day, the medics decided to scan me to check where the placenta was now. I sat in my wheelchair literally doubled over as I waited. I decided to go for it and find out the sex: boy, as I had thought – and hoped!

“My parents came in to see me in the afternoon, by which point I was in agony. They decided to transfer me back up to central delivery again. My husband arrived at this point and was really annoyed that they hadn’t given me any pain relief. I finally got some pethidine about 4pm, which helped reduce the pain in between the contractions, but not completely. At this point, I just wanted the baby out – in any way possible!

“At 7.30pm, the doctor finally decided to examine me to see what was going on, only to announce there was no cervix visible and my baby was on his way out! I was quite relieved, to be honest, but terrified at the same time. Paul’s face went grey when he heard. They said I could deliver naturally, which I was pleased about, but totally unprepared for (having not been to any antenatal classes yet). I was immediately given gas and air, which was brilliant!

“My waters were broken and in a very short time (about 30 minutes), Samuel arrived, weighing 4lb 3oz.

“They put him on my chest briefly, then whisked him off to SCBU, which fortunately now had space. I had a couple of stitches but instantly felt so much better. As I sat there eating a sandwich, I said to Paul, ‘Did that actually happen?’

“I had a bath, then checked on Sammy who was in his incubator (he had assisted breathing called CPAP, a drip and various other wires). I went down to the ward and hardly slept.”

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Sammy today – a happy and healthy 3-year-old

After the birth: visiting SCBU

“I found it quite hard seeing the other mums on the ward with their babies. Although I went to the SCBU every few hours, I just wanted Sammy with me. I managed to express milk from day 1, which made me quite proud. He came off CPAP after 4 days and was given some light therapy, as he was a bit jaundiced. He was a real little fidget, happiest when his arms and legs were wide apart – so much for the swaddling thing!

“I can’t describe how strong that instant bond is. I just loved him so very much from the first minute I saw him.

“I decided to come out of hospital after 4 days as I had been physically fine since giving birth and I just couldn’t face all the other babies. It was really very hard being home without him, though. I felt as though I was pretending I had a baby.

“Sammy’s stay in SCBU was a relatively short one at 3 and a half weeks. We were very lucky that he had few issues other than putting on weight. I can not praise enough the care we received from the paediatricians and nurses. He is now a strapping 3 year old, who shows no signs of having been premature.”

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