A-Z

Stewart

Age at interview: 38
Brief Outline: My wife developed pre-eclampsia and was induced at 7 months (33 weeks) into her pregnancy. She became more unwell and needed an emergency c-section. Our baby, Alexandra, stayed in SCBU (Special Care Baby Unit) for several weeks before she was discharged.
Background: My name is Stewart, I am 38 years old and a telesales manager. My wife, Claire, also took part in the Healthtalk study about high blood pressure in pregnancy. We have one daughter, aged 6 months. I identify as White Scottish.

More about me...

Problems in the pregnancy and going into hospital

My wife, Claire, developed pre-eclampsia. I didn’t know much about the condition until she was diagnosed with it. I was then able to find more information online. Claire didn’t show any of the tell-tale signs of pre-eclampsia and I fear that it could have been very serious if the condition had not been detected when it was.

After she was diagnosed, Claire started on medication to reduce her blood pressure. She was admitted to hospital and induced at 7 months (33 weeks) into the pregnancy. When I visited her the next morning, she was in a lot of pain and unable to sit down or stand up. I asked for a doctor to come see her several times. Claire had observations taken by the midwives, but a doctor didn’t arrive until later in the day. She became more poorly with a high temperature and vomiting. The doctor and midwives kept me well-informed of what was happening. Later that evening, the doctors told us that Claire would need to have an emergency c-section. The next steps felt quite rushed but I did my best to be calm and supportive for Claire throughout. I went into the operating theatre with her and we were talked through the procedure as it was happening. We briefly saw our baby, Alexandra, before she was taken to SCBU (Special Care Baby Unit). 

After the birth

It was hard having Claire and our new baby in separate places in the hospital. I sometimes felt like a split dad and husband. Claire was unable to go to SCBU at first. One thing which helped was the hospital setting up a video monitor by Alexandra’s incubator so Claire could see and talk to her. After a day or so, I was able to take Claire up to SCBU so we could spend time together as a family. Claire was kept in for a few days. Our baby stayed in SCBU for a few weeks for observations. Claire and I found it hard being back home without Alexandra. We tried to spend lots of time at the hospital but Claire also needed plenty of rest to recover from the c-section.

Areas for improvement

Claire and I were left without some important answers, and we were disappointed with the way some things had been handled at the hospital. For example, Claire had been kept on a post-natal ward which meant she was surrounded by new mothers with their children whilst our baby was in SCBU. We arranged to speak with someone at the hospital. We learnt at this meeting that the pain Claire had been experiencing over her stomach was due to the placenta coming away from her uterine wall. I don’t think we were given enough information about pre-eclampsia at first and we were left to find it out for ourselves online. I think partners should be told about the symptoms of high blood pressure problems like pre-eclampsia so that they can look out for warning signs. As I found, sometimes a partner notices important changes in the pregnant woman’s health that she may not herself be aware of yet.
 

Stewart’s wife, Claire, wasn’t able to go see their baby for a little while after giving birth. He thought it was good that the hospital set up a camera next to the cot for his wife.

Stewart’s wife, Claire, wasn’t able to go see their baby for a little while after giving birth. He thought it was good that the hospital set up a camera next to the cot for his wife.

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I was allowed up after they'd done the checks and observations.

OK 

I was allowed to go up and see her. Obviously Claire wasn’t allowed to go up straight away; I think it was possibly the next day. What they did do which was a brilliant thing, and I hope they do a lot more of it, is they'd set up a camera up beside where our child was, and they had a monitor down beside Claire, so she could actually see the child.

Oh wow

And what was happening and it did…I'm sure it had an audio bit so we could… if I was upstairs in SCBU (Special Care Baby Unit) with the child that Claire could hear and we could speak to each other. I thought that was an amazing thing to do sort of thing yeah.
 

Stewart and his wife, Claire, requested a meeting at the hospital to talk about some aspects that they were unhappy with. The meeting also helped them process things a bit more.

Stewart and his wife, Claire, requested a meeting at the hospital to talk about some aspects that they were unhappy with. The meeting also helped them process things a bit more.

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Yeah there was a few aspects of her pregnancy and at the hospital that we weren't happy with.

OK 

That there was certain things in the child report that we were as well that we hadn’t been told about.

OK yeah sure

That we wanted to speak to the hospital about that.

OK 

So, we just got in contact to see Dr [Hospital Doctor] for an informal chat with him, it wasn’t kind of a knuckle wrap kind of. You know it was just for us to get answers about what we'd seen and hadn’t been told sort of thing.

And did you value that opportunity to informally engage with the hospital?

Yeah it was very important for us. There was obviously a few things that we wanted to get… wrap our head round as well that we obviously hadn’t known.

And then obviously try and help the hospital with things that they'd missed to make sure it didn’t happen again to anyone else.
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