Amniotic fluid embolism is a rare, often fatal condition, affecting just one in 80,000 women giving birth. In fact, according to The Irish Times, what happened at Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, Ireland, had been seen only once in the past thirty years.
This was Jude Armstrong’s third pregnancy and, because she was so big, her doctors decided to induce the birth a week early. When the young mother turned purple and collapsed, medical teams carried on an emergency caesarean section.
Amniotic fluid containing hair, cells, and other debris from the fetus had gotten into the mother’s bloodstream, triggering an allergic reaction that might have led to organ failure, heart and lung collapse, and uncontrollable bleeding. Armstrong went into cardiac arrest twice, suffered massive hemorrhaging, and had to be given an emergency hysterectomy.
“They had prepared my family for the worst,” Armstrong told The Irish Times. “It’s an absolute miracle that I am here and I am just so thankful.”
While amniotic fluid embolism is quite rare, labor induction itself carriers various risks, according to the Mayo Clinic. For mothers, this includes:
- The need for a C-section
- Uterine rupture along the scar lines from a prior C-section
- Bleeding after delivery
For babies, this includes:
- Premature birth
- Lowering the baby’s heart rate
- Umbilical cord prolapse (when the umbilical cord slips into the vagina before delivery and decreases the baby’s oxygen supply)
- Shoulder dystocia
Luckily, both Armstrong and baby Ronan are doing well after the traumatic childbirth experience.