A mum says her unborn baby saved her life after her daughter’s awkward position in the womb blocked a huge blood clot travelling from her leg to her heart.
Bekki Pope, 33, went for a check-up at 37 weeks after suffering shortness of breath and a persistent cough in February last year.
She was shocked when medics found eight blood clots in her lungs that were all part of a huge clot forced to break into pieces to squeeze past baby Juniper. If the clot had remained whole, it's likely it would have killed them both.
Medics said they needed to give her immediate treatment to save both hers and her baby's lives by inducing her as soon as they could.
Now, as Bekki, from Saffron Walden, Essex, celebrates her daughter's first birthday, she is sharing her story to warn other expectant mums about the warning signs of blood clots.
The events manager, who is also mum to Barnaby, three, said: “My daughter saved my life because she was the wrong way around and refused to turn.
"If the doctors had decided to medically turn her, maybe even a day or two before, it would have released the big blood clot and it would have killed me - thankfully they were waiting for her to turn on her own.
“Someone was watching over me that day - if I believed ever that I had someone protecting me it would have been that day.
“Obviously, the doctors actually saved my life but it was Juniper's wrong position that initially saved me.”
Bekki first became aware of the serious heath ailment when she told her midwife of her cough and shortness of breath - which she had initially put down to being heavily pregnant and looking after a toddler.
She says her midwife told her to go across the hospital to A&E if she had time and was concerned - advice that Bekki admits she nearly didn't take.
Within hours, she was being rushed to have scans and to see specialist doctors, and was told she would have to be treated immediately under hospital supervision - a week later, she delivered her baby.
She added: “I went for my regular check-up and everything was fine with the baby, but as I was sitting there, the machine started beeping - the midwife didn’t seem panicked and just told me it was just because I had a cough and I was heavily pregnant.
"She mentioned if I got the time to go to the A&E and I could go and get it checked.
“Luckily I had the time because my son was in nursery that day and I went – it took me 45 minutes to walk the short distance to the A&E because I was so short of breath.
“I was sent for a chest scan and then I had to do another test to check for blood clots - I was very hesitant at first because of the radiation but eventually I went back the next day to do the scan, because I felt like something just wasn’t right."
The doctor confirmed Bekki's baby didn't have pneumonia or a chest infection. But warned "your baby is fine but you are not".
“I was told I had pulmonary embolisms (PEs), eight blood clots in my lungs, four in each one.
“He said: 'Call who you have to call and get your hospital bag because this baby is going to be here soon. I am very sorry - I know this is hard to hear. You and your baby girl are very lucky to be here.'
“Obviously I burst in tears. If I hadn’t gone that day, I’d probably be dead and so would my daughter.
“This thing nearly killed me and I knew nothing about it.’”
Bekki was also told by the medics at Addenbrookes Hospital if she had waited another 24-48 hours she could have suffered a massive heart attack as the blood clots grew and blocked her arteries, which would have been fatal.
She was informed the blood clot started in her left calf, travelled up to her pelvis but because of Juniper’s angle, it couldn’t get past her so it got bigger and bigger until it broke into eight bits.
The clots were small enough to get past Juniper without causing a heart attack and got into Bekki’s lungs.
She was treated immediately and Juniper was delivered on February 15, weighing a healthy 3 kilos.
Bekki had to be on blood thinners for six months after that that made her lose some of her hair but she admits she knows she was lucky to be alive.
She added: "I want women out there to be aware that blood clots are possible during pregnancy and they can kill you if they are not treated.
A spokesperson for Thrombosis UK said: “It is very important to be aware that pregnancy and the postpartum period increases your risk of blood clots, often called ‘thrombosis’ ‘DVT’ or ‘PE’.
"Too often the signs and symptoms of a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or pulmonary embolism (PE) can go unrecognised. As pregnancy and the post-partum period increases a woman’s risk for thrombosis 4-5 fold, recognising the signs can be life-saving."
While many DVTs have few or no symptoms, those that may occur most commonly include:
• Unexplained leg pain or tenderness is by far the commonest symptom (may feel like a pulled muscle)
• Swelling, usually in one leg
• Reddish / blue skin discoloration
• Leg feels warm to touch
A pulmonary embolism (PE) occurs when clots break off from a DVT and travel to block the blood supply to the lungs. This is a very serious condition that can be fatal.
The signs and symptoms of a PE include:
• Sudden shortness of breath or gradual onset of shortness of breath
• Chest pain-sharp, stabbing; that may get worse with deep breaths
• A rapid heart rate and sweatiness
• Unexplained cough, sometimes with blood-streaked mucus
• Sometimes symptoms of a DVT may be present too
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