News posted 13 December, 2023

After three pregnancies, woman welcomes baby girl to her family. Now, she campaigns for awareness of life threatening condition

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  • After three pregnancies, woman welcomes baby girl to her family. Now, she campaigns for awareness of life threatening condition

A woman from Macclesfield has thanked Saint Mary’s Hospital after their specialist services helped her achieve her dream of starting a family after a heartbreaking five-year journey.

In January 2018, Suzi Poulton found out she was pregnant with her first daughter, after she and her husband, Joe, had been trying to start their family for around a year.

However, she was admitted to hospital after developing some worrying symptoms.

Suzi, aged 35, said: “I was on holiday and I started to feel really unwell. I was suffering from headaches, vomiting, swelling and high blood pressure”.

She was diagnosed with a complication of pregnancy, called pre-eclampsia – which affects up to five percent of pregnancies in the UK and was transferred to Manchester Antenatal Vascular Service (MAViS) in Saint Mary’s Hospital for treatment.

The MAViS clinic provides specialist care for women with high blood pressure, pre-eclampsia and fetal growth restriction.

“I’d heard of it but didn’t know anything about it. The only thing I knew about it was Kim Kardashian had it in the later stages of her first pregnancy. It’s very rare to develop it as early as I did”.

Doctors at the clinic diagnosed Suzi with a very rare, and potentially life threatening complication of pre-eclampsia known as HELLP syndrome (Hemolysis, Elevated Liver enzymes and Low Platelets), a severe complication of pre-eclampsia that occurs in fewer than one percent of pregnancies.

Unfortunately, delivering the baby is the only treatment for this. At just 23 weeks pregnant, Suzi gave birth to their first child, Katie, who was sadly born sleeping. After six weeks, Professor Jenny Myers, lead clinician, advised that they could start trying for a child again if they felt they were ready.

By June 2020, Suzi was pregnant and was being monitored by the clinic every fortnight. It was during her routine appointments where the team picked up on signs of pre-eclampsia and a diagnosis of HELLP syndrome soon followed.

24 weeks into her pregnancy, Suzi gave birth to their second child William, who was tragically still born. After grieving their two children, Suzi and Joe decided that they had to live their life to the fullest.

“We were absolutely devastated to lose Katie and William. But we took some time to ourselves, so we went to gigs and booked holidays. We wanted to enjoy what we have and not what we don’t have”.

In February 2022, Suzi became pregnant for the third time. After raising concerns that she would have to go through the same experience again, she turned to the clinic for advice.

“Jenny asked me what I would tell a friend if they were going through the same situation. I knew instantly that I would want my friends to just go for it – and there was my answer”.

For the third pregnancy, Suzi attended the clinic around three times a week where the team diagnosed her with pre-eclampsia again. Incredibly, her and the baby managed to remain stable enough to reach 28 weeks before it was necessary to deliver the baby. 12 weeks before her due date, Suzi was admitted for a Caesarean section and, against the odds, Erin was born on 5th August 2022.

“She was the first to be born alive. It was a very surreal moment”.

Weighing just two pounds and one ounce, Erin was immediately taken to the neo-natal ward where she was put on a ventilator and stabilised – spending a total of 14 weeks in care.

“Erin came home in November last year and has been thriving ever since. She likes to climb up the stairs every night and claps when she gets to the top. That’s her little night-time routine”.

In total, Suzi had been in and out from the clinic for five years. During this time, she became close with the whole team.

“Erin’s middle name is actually Natalie – after our lead midwife Natalie Barry. She was so happy, she cried when we told her.”

Suzi is now an advocate for raising awareness about pre-eclampsia and HELLP syndrome. She has even spoken at an event hosted by Action on Pre-Eclampsia, an organisation which aims to improve care surrounding the condition, where she spoke to midwives and doctors and gave her a perspective of a patient.

“In terms of my pregnancies, I think I was just unlucky. This time something worked. I don’t know whether it was due to different medication, more monitoring, or whatever the powers that be decided we were due a bit of happiness. I will always be a champion for the MAViS clinic for all they’ve done”.

Professor Jenny Myers added: “Suzi is an inspiration to all of us and is doing incredible advocacy work for all woman and families affected by this devastating pregnancy condition; I’m absolutely delighted that the family are doing so well after such a long journey”.

“The MAViS clinic supports hundreds of families every year who have experienced pre-eclampsia and its devastating consequences. We strive to offer holistic, specialist care to all women who develop hypertensive complications of pregnancy. We’d encourage anyone who is experiencing high blood pressure or symptoms of pre-eclampsia during pregnancy to contact their maternity service via the emergency contact numbers.”