Close Calls: The Risk of Childbirth in America | NPR
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Close Calls: The Risk of Childbirth in America | NPR

I just remember looking up and everything
kept getting brighter, and brighter, and brighter, and I just all of the sudden said, “Why can’t
I see?” I was just like, “Oh my God, oh my God, my
head hurts. “I’m seeing flashing lights.” I just had this sense that I’ve never had
before that I was going to die. Because I had an emergency C-section during
my first delivery, I had a planned cesarean section for the second
pregnancy. I saw three doctors the entire time. Nothing alerted them to anything going wrong. So at 40 weeks, they started the operation,
opening me up for the cesarean section, and at that time I got a splitting headache. I was just like, “Mom, my head really hurts. “My head hurts.” I just started holding my head. I started to see rotating lights in the ceiling. And then right at that time I started to panic, and I blacked out. My family says that I went into a full seizure,
and the doctors quickly delivered my baby. I lost a lot of blood. They sewed me up. And when I came back to consciousness, my
OB-GYN kissed me on the forehead because he did not think that I was gonna
come back from that. My delivery and pregnancy seemed totally
normal until my placenta didn’t detach. It ruptured when my doctor attempted to help
me deliver it, and some was left in my uterus. I wasn’t informed in terms of warning signs to look for, and as a result at two weeks postpartum I became extremely ill, developed a uterine infection and was nearing septic shock. I just felt so guilty because I just thought,
“Why did I not see these warning signs sooner?” And I just felt, you know, like I’ve got three
kids here, and you just, I didn’t want to leave them. I suffered a massive postpartum hemorrhage. Our pregnancy was textbook. When we got home, I kept saying, “I feel awful.” I never actually voiced that to my doctor,
but I’d voiced it to friends and relatives. I said, “I really feel awful.” And the response was always, “Well, you just had a baby.” Eight days after we came home from the hospital,
my husband and I were sitting on the couch, and I suddenly had a really sharp pain, and
a blood clot the size of an orange came out. It took every ounce of energy I had to actually
physically walk into the ER by the time we got there. I just remember looking up and everything
kept getting brighter, and brighter, and brighter, and I just all of the sudden said, “Why can’t
I see?” And everybody in the room got dead quiet. You could have heard a pin drop. We learned later that that happens when you
have massive blood loss, ’cause it’s your body trying to push blood to more vital systems. I don’t think we communicate with new moms
enough on what a “normal” level of awful is, and what a “you need to talk to your doctor”
level of awful is. We tend to focus on taking care of the baby,
but not so much taking care of Mom afterwards.


  • Doug Williams

    So what now? This is not new. It has always been a part of child birth. Maybe American women are not suitable for child bearing?

  • Chris Rudland

    Here is a very good example of what can happen in that postnatal period. Just 13 days after childbirth. A Sory of Love, loss and hope. Jessica suffered hypoxic brain injury after cardiac arrest. #childbirth #maternalhealth #reallife

  • Metonymy1979

    And yet people want to make women have babies they don't want instead of an abortion. They don't know or want to know women still die.

  • Randy JustRandy

    Could NPR PLEASE hire some male announcers who actually sound like men? This shit is getting sickening!

  • Tara F.

    This hits home. I gave birth in 2009, and had the exact same complications as the woman in the video (retained product, uterine infection). On checking in with my doctor, I was referred to a specialist, given immediate medical treatment, and ultimately spent five days in the hospital making a full recovery. I live in California–boy, do I feel lucky for that right now.

  • gingerly

    Part of the problem is the high cesarean section rates in America which is mainly due to the over use of electronic fetal monitors (EFM). These monitors should only be used in high risk pregnancies. People don't know about the research around EFM use and the history around EFM use. If you look at it , most of these deaths are among women who have cesarean section. If it is an emergency, then I can understand. But many women in America don't know they can have a vaginal delivery after a cesarean section. Why? Because their doctors never tell them. Go back to the basics to save lives and stop treating pregnancy as a medical illness. When the rate of cesarean sections is down the rate of deaths will be down!!!

  • Therese Ward

    Education is the key!!! We take so much for granted trusting our doctors for guidance. We can play a major role in our medical care by research. In all three of my pregnancies I declined the c-section. All babies born healthy and alert. pain medication declined as well. Relaxation and stretching were key for me. Know your body and what feels right and what doesn’t.

  • John Billings

    "According to the latest report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a total of 380 confirmed and probable cases have been identified in 36 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The CDC has confirmed six deaths, and a seventh death has been reported by public health officials in Tulare County, Calif." –

    Since WHEN?
    Apparently it's worse than child mortality rates…
    Gate's old lady… oh jeeze…. she won't be happy…

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