Lottie was very ill with eclampsia and pre-eclampsia when her son was born during the 2020 Covid Lockdown. Here is her story in her words:

I had my son on the 7th of June 2020 during COVID lockdown.

At 35 and a half weeks, I went into hospital for reduced movement, baby was fine, however my blood pressure was through the roof, they decided to keep me in overnight and get me started on Labetalol, a medication that would help control my blood pressure at a safe level throughout the rest of my pregnancy.

At 38 weeks and 2 days, I went into hospital for my regular checkup, I was having check ups every 2/3 days from 35 weeks due to high blood pressure. They decided at that point it was time to induce me to avoid the blood pressure getting out of control before my due date, it was as this point, they did a sweep which led to my bloody show and I was sent straight up to the ward to start the induction process. At this point, I was incredibly calm and excited, ready to have my boy here and optimistic that the induction would give me a natural birth.

I had 24 sleepless hours after having the pessary and I started to feel the effects pretty quickly. After 24 hours they checked and I was 2cm dilated at which point they popped my waters and sorted my transfer to the labour ward to start the oxytocin drip, my husband was able to join me at the hospital and I started the drip the evening of the 6th.

Another sleepless night on the 6th, everything started to move quickly, I was getting stronger surges using my Freya app and breathing techniques to focus. I was given an epidural, however, it had failed – against all odds I was able to stay calm and focused and by 09:00 the morning of the 7th I was 10cm dilated and ready to push! I could not believe I was about to meet my son!

I started to push, and push, but nothing happened…I was physically exhausted and did not feel well at all, I was struggling to stay awake! I started to feel immense pressure on my back, it was at this point the nurse determined that the baby was in a difficult position and I was going to need help to get him out, the talk of forceps quickly turned to c-section as it was clear baby was becoming distressed, before you knew it I had surgeons in the room getting me ready to be taken into theatre

Once in theatre, I had 3 spinal blocks that all failed, it was at this point, with the help of the surgeons, me and my husband decided that the safest way to move forward would be for me to go under general anaesthetic and have baby delivered as soon as possible as his heart rate was dropping, this meant that my husband had to leave the room and I had to go under, so neither of us were present for the birth of our son.

Once he was out, it took a while for his breathing to become stabilised, once he was ok, my son was given to my husband who was then told that they were struggling to get me to wake up, I had lost a lot of blood and my kidney was starting to fail. It took them almost 45 minutes to get me to come round.

Once I came round, I was welcomed by my husband holding our perfect little man, he was put on my chest, a moment I briefly remember as it quickly became clear that I was not very responsive, the next thing I remember is being rushed into another room, I had developed eclampsia and the doctors had to start the infusion immediately. I was surrounded by doctors putting needles in my arms and legs trying to find veins before I was too swollen, after an hour of madness the room emptied and I was left with my husband and baby for 24 hours to let the medication kick in.

After a couple of days, I was moved to the post-natal ward, where me and my son ended up staying for the next week as they worked out what medications I would need to be on for the next 6 weeks whilst my blood pressure hopefully returned to normal. This week was by far the hardest of my life, I was so weak, lonely, riddled with guilt that I could not give my son my full attention as I was so desperate to recover!

The pain of being alone was immense. My body felt completely drained, I could not digest or remember moments…the medication made me feel like I had lost all sense of gravity almost and I was still very swollen and unable to stand for long. My blood pressure spikes several times whilst the doctors constantly changed my medication dose to try help get it under control.

After 7 days I was sent home on 16 tablets a day. My blood pressure was able to remain controlled from that point and by 8 weeks PP I was of all medication. For the first 6 weeks PP I felt completely drained and at times very out of it from the medication.

My son, Isaac, is now almost 10 months old and thriving. As a family, we are still healing and digesting all the events of my birth. Knowledge is power and I have been learning lots more about eclampsia and the misconceptions and realities surrounding this condition. I think it is so important to raise awareness and to share stories. I feel so lucky to have me and my son here and to have the opportunity to tell my story.