Elizabeth Hart, of Harold Wood, explains why she called her charity ‘Help! My Vagina Is Falling Out!’
- Credit: Archant
Last year, a potentially fatal retained placenta made Elizabeth Hart ill after the birth of her daughter. Ramzy Alwakeel finds out how she is turning her experience around and using it to help other women.
“‘Vagina’ is a powerful word and I want to use it to send out a powerful message. The disrespectful way women are being treated during pregnancy and childbirth is neglectful and it has to change.”
These are the words of young mum Elizabeth Hart, who spent eight weeks last year in agony after medics left her placenta inside her.
Now Elizabeth, 30, wants to stop the same thing happening to other local women – so she’s founded a charity called Help! My Vagina Is Falling Out! to offer advice and support to pregnant women and new mothers.
The striking name is something Elizabeth, of Athelstan Close, Harold Wood, wanted to scream at the doctor during an unproductive check-up.
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“I gave the doctor a description of how I was feeling – all the stomach pains, the lower back pains, the constant fever and the depression,” she explained.
“But he just said that was how I should expect to feel after having a baby.
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“He didn’t even want to check I was healing okay, although I’d had stitches and I told him they’d been infected.
“I left the surgery feeling angry and frustrated.”
The trouble started after Elizabeth gave birth to her first child – a daughter, Poppy, now aged eight months.
Somehow staff at Queen’s Hospital, Romford, didn’t realise she hadn’t delivered the placenta – and over the next two months it became infected inside her, sending her into a high fever and sparking a serious bout of depression.
“I hadn’t bonded with my daughter,” she told the Recorder. “I was in so much discomfort I lay in bed each night thinking of the best way to end my life.
“I told the doctor I was feeling down but he didn’t want to know.”
The problem was eventually diagnosed when Elizabeth went to a private gynaecologist. She delivered the placenta spontaneously the next day – two months after her daughter had been born.
But Elizabeth believes much of the trauma could have been avoided if she’d had someone to help her through.
“If I’d taken someone with me to the check-up, I might have been more assertive and pushed for the doctor to examine me,” she said.
“The doctor might have listened to me instead of ushering me away with some rubbish about what a mother should feel. That lingering piece of placenta could have been found and removed.”
Elizabeth believes she’s not alone in her experiences. “Hospitals are like a manufacturing line nowadays,” she said.
“When my mother gave birth to me in the 1980s, she was kept in for two weeks. She was shown how to care for me and told to rest because having a baby is a massive stress on your body.”
So now makeup and hair designer Elizabeth has a mission. “My vision for the organisation is to support local women during pregnancy and childbirth and beyond – whether that means attending a hospital appointment with them or making them a cup of tea and listening to their grievances,” she said.
“I want my daughter to be in a much better situation if she chooses to have a family in the future.”
Elizabeth has already recruited a number of volunteers, ranging from a retired florist to an occupational therapist. But she hopes to find more, whether they can spare a few hours a week or just a little time each month.
To contact Elizabeth, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.helpmyvaginaisfallingout.co.uk.