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Pre-eclampsia during pregnancy

Heidi was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia when she was 27 weeks pregnant. One week later, her daughter Chloe was delivered by emergency caesarean, weighing just 1lb 8.5oz.

Heidi explains how pre-eclampsia has affected their lives, and why she’s so keen to support research into improving the diagnosis of pre-eclampsia.Two-year-old Chloe excited in the soft play area

“I’m a midwife myself, and my friend noticed I looked under the weather when I was on the nightshift. I was 27 weeks and two days pregnant. I was very surprised to be diagnosed with pre-eclampsia as I had felt fine all the way up to my diagnosis. I had occasionally felt nauseous but nothing else, no other symptoms.

Chloe was delivered at 28 weeks and one day by emergency caesarean – I was over the moon as my consultant said getting past 28 weeks is crucial. She weighed just 1lb 8.5oz and had to be put on a ventilator.

“She was so fragile and had to spend the first three months of her life in hospital.”

Affects of pre-eclampsia

“My daughter is now two years old, and she’s obviously the one who has been most affected by pre-eclampsia. She had such a tricky start to life but she continues to surprise us with how well she’s doing. She was at a higher risk of complications because I had developed the condition so early on in my pregnancy.

Chloe suffers from chronic lung disease, due to scarring on her lungs. She suffers more than others with wheezing and really bad coughs, but she will grow out of this eventually. We tend to be a bit more anxious with her than we would probably be with a full-term, healthy child, but I think most parents would be the same. She will always be smaller than a full-term child, as she has a lot of catching up to do, but developmentally she has caught up with other two-year-olds and is doing well.

Chloe is a little star, but then again, as her mum, I am probably very biased. She is very lively and funny, loves to be tickled and to play hide and seek. Her biggest enjoyment comes from music and she loves to dance or sing. Any time she hears music – from a radio, television or a passing car with its windows down – you’ll see Chloe dancing to the beat. Imagine a two-year-old in a tutu and you can imagine Chloe (that might be a tutu at baby ballet or a tutu over her pyjamas).”

“If researchers could find a marker that would show if it would happen again, or could pick up on it earlier, it would be a massive breakthrough for me.”

Heidi and Chloe playing in the ball pit I donated my placenta for Sparks research into pre-eclampsia. I really look forward to seeing the results of Dr Crocker’s project to improve diagnosis of pre-eclampsia.

At the moment, I would shy away from getting pregnant with another child in the fear of suffering from the condition again. My consultant told me that, as I had early onset pre-eclampsia, there is a one-in-four chance of it happening again. If researchers could find a marker that would show if it would happen again, or could pick up on it earlier, it would be a massive breakthrough for me, and for all those other mums out there.”

Research for the future

“For those of you who have raised money or awareness for Sparks, I am eternally grateful. Anything that can help prevent other women going through what I’ve gone through, and what I see other pregnant women going through everyday, can only be a good thing. I look forward to the day that research can pinpoint those women at risk of pre-eclampsia, and maybe one day they can prevent it from happening at all.”