It could be you

Fri 18th May 2007 by Ben Palmer.

“Is anybody listening?” I sometimes wonder. Do people think I'm just a sad old widower having a rant?

Yes, I've ranted to myself and to my friends in the past, but I've come through that. I know what childbed fever means, and I know the ecstatic highs of birth followed post haste by the devastation of death. I know the roller coaster of fear, anger, despair, self doubt and guilt that follows it, and I know the utter waste and needlessness of loss of life in this way, but am I not explaining it?

The NHS machine has treated Jessica's death as a statistic, collateral damage maybe, but has it learned? Have we as parents learned?

There really is no reason at all for women to die from infection after childbirth. It can stop and I hope it will stop, but first we have to accept that it is happening. Jessica's story is not just a sad tale worth a moment's attention and maybe a brief tear, it is an opportunity to reflect and to drag ourselves out of the dark ages.

Universally, the reaction to her death has been the same, whether in her best friends, a doctor or an internet-using car builder, but that isn't enough; we actually have to do something in the face of our doubts that anything can change.

If the end of childbed fever meant years of expensive research, new wonder drugs and hi-tech equipment I could understand the 'nothing will change' mentality, but none of that is needed. The research was done years ago by Ignaz Semmelweis, the drugs needed are ordinary antibiotics, and the hi-tech equipment? A thermometer. The only difference between his time and now are the hygiene standards that luckily prevent the epidemics of old. Otherwise it's still exactly the same old disease.

So, know that childbed fever is still real, believe that it doesn't have to be, and understand that yes – it could happen to you.

tags: valley

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What is childbed fever?

Childbed fever is an infection of the womb in new mothers which can lead to septicaemia. If left untreated infection will cause organ failure and death - even in young, fit mothers.
What are the symptoms? »
Childbed fever: the facts »

What's the aim?

We would like every parent and every midwife and doctor to know that childbed fever is still a very real threat to a mother's life.
more »
Can I help? »

Who is Jessica?

Jessica Palmer was a Mum. She died in June 2004, at 34 years old, of childbed fever caused by Group A streptococcus.
more »

This website contains general information about childbed fever. The information is not complete or comprehensive. You should not rely on the information on this website as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or healthcare provider. If you have any specific questions about childbed fever (or any other medical condition) you should consult your doctor or other healthcare provider; and if you think you may be suffering from childbed fever (or any other medical condition) you should seek immediately medical attention. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.