Pre-eclampsia and high blood pressure in pregnancy


Age at interview: 32

Brief outline: At a GP appointment at 32 weeks check it was discovered that Michael’s partner (Helen X) had high blood pressure. Her blood pressure was monitored over 5 days, then HELLP syndrome diagnosed. Their son was delivered by emergency caesarean and spent 3 weeks in the neo-natal unit.

Background: Michael is a website manager. It was he and his partner’s first child. White Australian.

Audio & video

Michael and his partner (Helen X) were not really prepared for the early arrival of their son. They both assumed that they had another 8 weeks to get ready for him. However when his partner was 32 weeks pregnant she started to feel increasingly uncomfortable. Michael was aware that she was having tests for her blood pressure and was increasingly uncomfortable, but was very surprised when he received a text early in the morning, saying that their baby was going to be delivered that day. 

He packed a bag quickly, and rushed to the hospital. After visits from lots of doctors, he was put in scrubs and allowed into the pre-op room while Helen X was put to sleep. He was then sent out to wait in a room down the corridor. There were over 10 doctors in the room when he left, but one of them kindly came down after 20 minutes to let him know that everything was OK and with some photos of the baby on his digital camera. He was then allowed in to see them after about 40 minutes. His partner was then sent to the high dependency unit (HDU) and his son up to the neo-natal ward, as he had been born at 32 weeks, 6 days.

His partner spent 2 days in HDU and a week on the post-natal ward before being allowed home. It was another 2 weeks before their baby was allowed home. He and his partner soon established a routine of visiting their baby every day and watching him slowly get stronger. Michael also focused on helping his partner get strong. They were both positive about the extra time that the baby’s stay gave them to rest and prepare – they would have preferred to have him home but it did allow them to get some sleep, get ready and prepare food for when he did come home. They did however find going in to visit him for 8 hours each day really exhausting. The interview was conducted when their baby was 14 weeks old, and they were preparing to travel home to Australia with him to visit family.


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