MP Tells How She Thought She Was Going To Die After Giving Birth

Theo Clarke wants the government to do more for mums who experience birth trauma.
Theo Clarke gave birth to her daughter last year
Theo Clarke gave birth to her daughter last year
UK Parliament

An MP has told how she thought she was going to die after giving birth to her baby daughter.

Theo Clarke said it was “the most terrifying experience” of her life as medics fought to save her life.

The Tory MP for Stafford recounted her ordeal during a debate on birth trauma in the House of Commons.

“This is the first time I have ever spoken about this in parliament and this is the most personal speech I will likely ever give as an MP,” she said.

Clarke wants the government to improve the services provided for the 20,000 women in the UK who suffer birth injuries every year, and the estimated 30,000 who suffer from post traumatic stress disorder because of their experience.

The MP revealed that after a “difficult 40 hours in labour” in August last year, she began bleeding very heavily after her baby was born.

She said: “I was separated from my baby and rushed into the emergency
room for surgery.

“I remember the trolley bumping into the walls and the medical staff taking me into theatre and being slid onto the operating theatre table. I spent over two hours awake without a general anaesthetic.

“I could hear them talking about me and obviously it was not looking good. It was the most terrifying experience of my life; I thought I was going to die.”

Clarke added: “I spent nearly a week in hospital and one of my main reflections was the lack of aftercare for mums.

“There is so much focus on the baby that sometimes we seem to forget that you’ve had a major traumatic experience and that mums need some care too.”

The MP said a “postcode lottery” means new mums face different levels of post-birth care depending on where they live in the UK.

She said: “I call today for the government to ensure that perinatal mental health services are available to all mums across the UK.”

Douglas Ross, the only male MP in attendance at the debate, also shared the story of his wife’s traumatic birth experience.

“We were told at one point that our unborn son’s heart rate was dipping”, said the Scottish Conservative MP.

Ross’s wife was transported from their local hospital in Elgin to a larger one in Aberdeen with the resources to deal with complicated births - a 90 minute drive whilst she was in labour.

“We put her in the back of ambulance, she got strapped in. I can’t imagine what it’s like to be strapped down on your back for 90 minutes whilst having contractions, knowing that your child inside you has a dipping heart rate.”

Ross was not allowed to travel in the ambulance alongside his wife, and had to make his own way to the next hospital by car.

“I had to leave her. I couldn’t be with her at her most vulnerable time”

“I kept looking in my mirrors and couldn’t see the ambulance. What if something had gone wrong and they’d had to pull over?” he thought during the long journey.

“It is shameful and it is unacceptable.”

Reiterating the importance of care and caution during the childbirth process, Labour MP Rosie Duffield added that interactions between medical professionals and the mothers need to be improved.

“Kindness, good manners, information, listening to women. Those are not things that should be altered or affected in any way by medical circumstance or emergency.” she said.

Duffield also noted the amount of deaths during childbirth are disproportionately amongst women of ethnic minorities, and said that MPs must deal with the issue and end the stark inequality.


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