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Saving more moms after childbirth

Published: Nov. 16, 2020 at 8:54 AM EST
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Four million women in the U.S. give birth each year. Fifty thousand of them face life-threatening complications that leave them wounded, weakened, traumatized and unable to have more children. Now, one woman is on a mission to make sure expectant moms know the risk of the one complication that almost took her life.

Three beautiful, perfect little girls. Not much frightens these three sisters, but their mom and dad had the scare of their lives after little Eva’s birth.

“She was out, and she was healthy, and then they couldn’t get the placenta out. I started bleeding profusely, so much that they couldn’t stop it,” said mom, Tonya Trostel.

Trostel was suffering from a form of placenta accreta.

“Placenta accreta is when the placenta implants too far into the wall of the uterus,” explained Alison Cowan, MD, an OB-GYN at UCHealth Medical Center of the Rockies.

In pregnancy, the placenta develops inside the uterus and provides oxygen and nutrition to the baby.

“The baby delivers first, and then we clamp and cut the cord. And then the second step is to deliver the placenta,” continued Dr. Cowan.

In Trostel’s case, her placenta had invaded her uterine wall, preventing it from being delivered.

“People can bleed very rapidly and require a transfusion,” said Dr. Cowan.

Trostel lost eleven units of blood. Doctors performed an emergency hysterectomy to save her life. The number one risk factor for placenta accrete is prior c-sections.

“If we can avoid the first c-section, we’re going to give that woman so much more protection for the rest of her life,” stated Dr. Cowan.

Trostel’s oldest baby was delivered c-section. Now, Trostel is on a mission to make moms aware of the risk.

“I can’t have more children, but I need to do something to make this worth it and to make what I went through worth it,” said Trostel.

Trostel tells new moms to ask their doctors about the risk. Ultrasounds can detect placenta accreta some of the time, but Dr. Cowan said there is often nothing that can be done to avoid a hysterectomy. Trostel also organizes a blood drive every year to repay the gift of life she was given.

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