Pre-eclampsia and high blood pressure in pregnancy


Age at interview: 34
Age at diagnosis: 32

Brief outline: Julie was expecting her first daughter and felt well through most of the pregnancy. But once she had passed her due date she started to feel unwell – had headaches, distorted vision and high blood pressure. She developed pre-eclampsia and doctors performed an emergency caesarean.

Background: Julie is a research and performance manager for a local authority. She is married with one daughter. White British.

Audio & video

Julie was interviewed when her daughter was almost two years old. She enjoyed the pregnancy, which went well. However after she passed her due date she started to feel unwell. At 40 weeks, 5 days she started to develop high blood pressure and swelling. She saw lines across her eyes, had severe headaches and felt dizzy. Over a period of 2-3 days she described being monitored, and finally admitted to hospital, and feeling increasingly unwell and ‘out of it’. 

After two days her blood pressure was very high and doctors were concerned. They started induction, but labour did not progress fast, and once the baby started to go into distress she was rushed through for an emergency caesarean. There was meconium in the waters and her baby needed to be resuscitated at birth, but she was then fine. Mother and baby were able to be together soon, and they stayed in hospital for six days as doctors monitored her blood pressure.

On discharge she was well supported by her community midwife, and close family. Her recovery was however complicated by a burst appendix when her baby was seven weeks old. At this point she stopped breast-feeding. 

She was told what had happened to her in a brief chat with the consultant in the hospital. But she had not been offered any follow up since, which she would have appreciated, to try and make sense of her experience. She had done a lot of online research herself into pre-eclampsia, but was not given any by the hospital. She would also have liked some more formal support, or opportunity to talk to others, after such a traumatic event. She was very upset by how medicalised her birth experience had to become, and suffered flashbacks for a while. She and her partner have not thought about other children until now but are just starting to consider trying for another although they are concerned over whether the pre-eclampsia would happen again.


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