Pregnancy left me heartbroke­n

I nearly died after giving birth

- Donna Allen, 36, Windsor

Six months into my second pregnancy, I knew something wasn’t right. I felt so breathless. ‘It’s a common side effect,’ my midwife said, but I wasn’t convinced. I knew my body.

This felt different to my first – by a mile.

Still, I tried to put up with it. Ignore it and carry on.

I’d fallen pregnant almost straight after having my firstborn, Freddie.

Had no time to take it easy!

But weeks later, during a pregnancy massage, I felt like I was suffocatin­g.

Couldn’t physically inflate my lungs with air.

It was terrifying.

By then, my bump was huge and quite high up, so midwives thought the baby was pressing on my lungs. In July 2014, I had Jackson by emergency caesarean.

I was kept in hospital as I’d developed an infection from the surgery. But my legs were abnormally swollen, my mouth felt dry.

No matter how much water I drank, I felt like my lips were sandpaper. Doctors were worried I might have a blood clot. Thankfully, Jackson was healthy, but I was bereft when he went home to join Freddie with their dad. Unable to bond with my newborn, I felt so ill and worried. What on earth is wrong with me? Doctors tried all sorts of different tablets, transferre­d me between wards.

After six days, my body started shutting down. I was going into renal failure, my heart not working properly.

I was sent for an ECG and echocardio­gram scan, and was finally diagnosed with peripartum cardiomyop­athy (PPCM).

It’s a rare heart condition triggered by pregnancy, the cause unknown.

My left ventricle – the bottom chamber of my heart – was enlarged, stretching the muscle wall.

Weakening my heart’s ability to pump blood.

It was just flowing to my legs and sitting there.

Doctors got me on the right meds – and, thankfully, my body started to recover.

Soon, I could go home and see my baby.

I was lucky – some women with PPCM are on tablets for life, or die from heart failure.

For me, it took six months of medication and MRI scans for my heart to get back to some form of normal.

It’ll always be mildly impaired. But, thankfully, Jackson, now 6, came out unscathed.

He’s such a lovely lad, I’m very lucky to have him and Freddie, 8.

I still get breathless much easier than most, but keep active in my job as a dog walker.

And a mum to two boys! I have annual heart MOTs, but doctors have no idea what triggered my PPCM, or if it could return.

I’ve decided not to have any more kids, just in case. It could be fatal next time.

I don’t blame anyone for missing the warning signs – PPCM is so rare.

But please, if you’re pregnant and feel something’s not right, listen to your body.

You know it better than anyone else.

Ignoring the signs nearly cost me my life.

After six days, my body started shutting down

 ??  ?? Expecting: little did I know what was to come
Expecting: little did I know what was to come
 ??  ?? Jackson keeps me active!
Jackson keeps me active!

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