Katie, a mother of 3, (5, 3, and 2) developed high blood pressure with her third pregnancy around 26 weeks which then lead to her being diagnosed (during the covid 19 pandemic) with HELLP syndrome. Katie’s first baby was premature and her second full term with no signs of pre-eclampsia with either.

Ever since my first baby I have had a keen interest in maternity services, advocacy and informed consent so it was no surprise to myself that my high blood pressure developed into HELLP syndrome. I had a short hospital stay to try and control my blood pressure which did work to begin with but my blood tests showed my condition deteriorating.

I received a phone call at 12am from a triage midwife which I knew wouldn’t be good. I had been experiencing pain in my ribs but I convinced myself it was ingestion, this along with black specks in my vision I knew my fears were coming true and that I had preeclampsia.

At this point I didn’t know what HELLP syndrome was, I was admitted and told I would be having a general anaesthetic for my caesarean as my bloods were so bad.

The thought of having another baby at 34 weeks was scary; my blood pressure before the magnesium drip was 222/130 and the drip made me beyond hot! Even my eyes and mouth felt hot!

My baby was delivered and needed transitional care instead of NICU which I was grateful for, but looking after a baby while still recovering from HELLP syndrome was a lot, I felt like my condition didn’t matter and was expected to get on with it all.

At this point I still hadn’t been told I had HELLP syndrome, I just see it in my notes or heard it in passing, no-one actually sat with me and explained it all.

This was all during covid. Unfortunately, someone near me tested positive on the HDU which meant me and my baby were isolated, not only did I have to work on getting better I was stuck alone for 10 days. My husband could visit occasionally but with two other children at home this was a bit more difficult.

Once I was discharged, I had regular blood pressure checks, each one giving me extreme anxiety about the result. At my 6 week check I was told to stay on my medication because readings were still high.

Two years later, I use my experience to help support other pregnant people, I do this by volunteering for charities and my MNVP (maternity neonatal voices partnership).