The birth of my first child was a difficult one. We already knew prior to birth that my daughter was the wrong way round with her back against mine and although she half-turned during labour, she never fully managed the rest. As she started to come out, she got stuck and I had to have an assisted delivery in the end. I was bleeding heavily after she was born so was given two units of blood that afternoon. I remember trying to walk to the toilet but was just so completely wiped out I could hardly walk across the room to get there. As a nurse I was immediately thinking that my haemoglobin level could be low as how I was feeling was definitely not how I expected to feel after giving birth. The blood made a big difference straight away and by the following day I had energy and was able to walk around properly. I’ve been putting blood up for patients for over 16 years in my job and I knew a lot about having a blood transfusion and the checks involved but when you have blood yourself you finally realise the impact it has on the patient.
Now I’m much better at looking after my patients. If they need blood it’s actually a lot easier to explain to somebody when you’ve had a blood transfusion yourself and can say ‘I’ve done this’. I was able to enjoy my first daughter straight away because I had the energy to. To think that somebody, at some point, made a decision to donate blood and I received it was a real gift. Sometimes you can almost take it for granted that there will be blood when you need it. Certainly as a nurse you can think that it’s always there because there’s a process in place and there are people who always donate. But being a blood donor really is so very important. I’m glad to say that my second pregnancy was much easier…apart from travelling on the tube, which is always interesting when you’re pregnant.
Angela Griggs is a mother of two girls and a lecturer practitioner ENT Nurse.