Pre-eclampsia and high blood pressure in pregnancy

Hanna

Female
Age at interview: 39
Age at diagnosis: 37

Brief outline: Hanna was pregnant with her first child. She developed high blood pressure, and tests showed she had protein in her urine. She was kept in hospital for a couple of weeks before her baby was born by emergency caesarean section. Her baby was fine.

Background: Hanna is married with two young children. She is Somalilander and works as an operations representative. Her daughter was born in 2012 and her son was born in 2013, both by caesarean section.

Audio & video

Hanna was pregnant with her first child. As it was her first pregnancy, she feels that she did not pick up on the signs of developing high blood pressure at an early stage. When she went along for a regular check, at about 33 weeks gestation, her blood pressure was high. She was kept in hospital for further tests, which also revealed protein in her urine. She also had a pain in her right side, which doctors thought was related to her liver, but was not explained. So doctors decided she should remain in hospital.

After 10 days, doctors decided it was time to deliver the baby as she had developed pre-eclampsia. She was induced, but needed an emergency caesarean section. Her daughter was born, at 35 weeks gestation, and was small but healthy. However, Hanna’s blood pressure stayed high and she was in a lot of pain after the birth. On day 3 after birth, she started hallucinating. Doctors diagnosed a haematoma and put her on intravenous antibiotics.

Hanna was in hospital for almost a month. She was given a private room, and her husband was able to stay with her for a few days, which she found very helpful. But being in so much pain, and unable to get around the hospital very easily, meant that she felt very isolated from other new mothers.

After she was discharged, she was not offered any follow up from the hospital. She never did get an explanation of what was wrong with her liver. Her GP was very supportive and checked her blood pressure and blood results regularly in the first few weeks to check that there was no infection left.

Hanna has gone on to have a second baby. During her second pregnancy, she did not develop high blood pressure or pre-eclampsia. She did, however, have a caesarean section again, as her second baby had meconium in the waters.

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