Beyond the Pregnancy Symptoms


birth experienceLately, there has been a lot of talk in the media surrounding maternal deaths. Reading about Serena Williams’ health condition after giving birth was eye-opening. So, here was Serena Williams, one of the greatest athletes in history, who had initially been ignored when she complained of not feeling well after giving birth. She knew her history of blood clots, and with insistence, tests were done. It was found that she had blood clots in her lungs. Luckily she was treated and avoided a crisis.

The importance of this story is that had she not trusted herself and pushed the doctors, she could have likely died. Serena is a celebrity with way more supports and funds than most people. In July, USA Today stated that there are hundreds of maternal deaths each year.

Learning this led me to reflect on my own pregnancy complications and experience with Placenta Previa.

I found out after a hospital visit that I had placenta previa. It is when the placenta is lying low or covering the cervix. During monthly checkups, I was monitored to see if the placenta would shift, but it did not. I had what was called Complete Previa. A common complication was bleeding, which, as my pregnancy progressed, happened more often. Each time resulted in a hospital visit. The further along I became, the more episodes I had.

The last incident required me to stay in the hospital for a few days. At 32 weeks, I was given a corticosteroid to help my unborn baby’s lungs develop if an emergency c-section was needed. I was immediately put on bed rest, and an earlier c-section was scheduled. My son would be delivered at 36 weeks.

A major risk factor with this condition is hemorrhaging during childbirth which would lead to the death of mother and child. Cesarean is the chosen method for birth. A few days before delivery, I was informed that there would be extra blood on hand along with two doctors for delivery, in case there were complications during the delivery or after, which would require a blood transfusion and possibly a hysterectomy.

It was after all of this when I realized what I had was a serious condition. Before this diagnosis, I had worked every day, even when I felt like I could not go on. When I was not feeling well, I chalked it up to just being a regular part of pregnancy. When I would talk to my doctor, I was never advised to take it easy initially. I was told no sex because that could trigger the bleeding. However, I learned that strenuous activity could also trigger bleeding. I was still doing the laundry and grocery shopping for my family. My son’s father and I both worked. Some mornings, I could feel pressure on my stomach as I drove, but I ignored it since my doctor advised me that I was fine.

I work in Social Services with homeless families. Daily, I would visit multiple sites and do a lot of walking up and downstairs for meetings at clients’ homes. It was work, and I had to work. I was exhausted and worn out, but I wanted to be that woman that would work all the way up until my due date.

I wonder how many women, such as myself, ignore how they feel because of being told that what they are feeling is just a part of “pregnancy” or childbirth? How many doctors are not advising women properly?

Mothers do so much for their children and families. Being pregnant does not stop the everyday duties of a mother. Women are still caring for their families, working, and mothering other children. However, we mustn’t forget ourselves and make time to relax, lean on supports, and speak up. I recommend that other mothers and pregnant women be open with their doctors about their lifestyle and health issues and not be afraid to say something when it doesn’t feel right. We must trust our gut.

Ladies, only you know how your body feels.


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