1 in every 10 women will lose a child after 24 weeks of pregnancy, making this type of heartbreaking loss 10 times more likely than cot death. That is staggering.
I became one of the lucky majority when I gave birth a healthy baby boy in February this year, but it might have been different.
My Experience with Tommy’s Placenta Clinic
After my 12 week scan, I received a (somewhat confusing) letter informing me of a low hormone level reading that could sometimes be associated with restricted foetal growth in later pregnancy. I was advised not to worry and to just turn up at the “Placenta Clinic,” in St Mary’s hospital, Manchester on a given date that would have me 23 weeks pregnant.
I was left a little worried, but all worries were cast aside after a 20 week scan that showed no anomalies and a baby boy developing well.
When I turned up for my first appointment at the Tommy’s Placenta Clinic, a midwife spent 15 minutes with me as soon as I arrived to explain the work, why I was there and what it meant.
She explained that their research had correlated readings like mine with small babies and foetal growth restriction in later pregnancy. Not in all cases, she reassured me, but they wanted to keep an eye on me.
I had a growth scan that day and all was well. I assumed this would mean I’d be discharged from their clinic, but instead I was told to come back 5 weeks later.
5 weeks later, everything was good again.
“Are you sure I need to keep coming back?”
“Let’s just keep an eye on you. Come back in 2 weeks.”
And that’s when it all changed. The baby’s growth was still ok, but my blood pressure had suddenly shot through the roof having been normal the whole way through pregnancy. No protein in my urine meant I was spared the pre-eclampsia diagnosis, but nonetheless, this seemed something the clinic had been expecting and they said they would see me again a week later. From that point, I was seen twice a week until I was around 34 weeks pregnant.
By then, even medication was struggling to bring my blood pressure down and I was in several times a week. A blood test showed a Placental Growth Factor reading that was dropping faster than it should.
Finally, at just under 36 weeks, I was advised that I should be induced. There were indicators that the baby was beginning to get less of what he needed and growth could be impacted.
At 36 weeks and 4 days I was induced. Over the 3 days that took, I was feeling his movement steadily decrease and I was monitored very closely. I gave birth to a healthy 5 lb 9 baby boy at exactly 37 weeks by emergency C section at the end of February.
His blood sugar was very low and he had a little jaundice but was otherwise a picture of health. 4 months on, Oliver is thriving – bright as a button and a joy to be around.
All of the staff at the Placenta Clinic were just incredible. They were patient, reassuring and matter of fact in a way that is so essential when dealing with worried pregnant Mums-to-be. I always felt as though they were being honest with me and I always felt confident enough to take their advice.
I had no hesitation at being induced almost 4 weeks early on their advice. They had been right about everything so far. I had no reason to doubt them when they told me we had to get my little boy out now.
Research is Vital
Someone I know gave birth a year and a half ago to a little girl born sleeping.
The only answer they could give is that they believed the placenta had stopped functioning and she only knew something was wrong when her baby’s movements decreased.
She knew too late.
I was so, so fortunate to be at a hospital with the Tommy’s Placenta clinic there. I was monitored so, so closely throughout pregnancy and the specialists there fully anticipated the problems I would encounter later on.
The work of Tommy’s is so critically important and the team I was treated by in Manchester were just brilliant.
Find out more about their work at http://www.tommys.org/