A survivor's story

2 min read

fter the birth of my first child, a girl, in 2004 I was quite ill. The labour was difficult and I lost a lot of blood due to hemorrhaging. About a week after my daughter was born I began to have difficulty breathing, particularly when lying down. I had extreme swelling of my legs from the knees down. I was extremely weak and fatigued. I saw a doctor about a month post-partum, who attributed my problems to the difficult birth, my anemia from the blood loss, etc. I eventually recovered, but I suffered for weeks with the symptoms of PPCM - but didn't know it at the time.

In 2006 I had a miscarriage at 16 weeks pregnant. I again suffered the same symptoms (but not as serious) as after the birth of my daugther. My obstetrician was concerned when I was still ill six weeks after the miscarriage and I was referred to a cardiologist. By the time I saw him my symptoms had resolved. Based on what I told him I was disagnosed with PPCM. He advised me not to have another child.

I got a second opinion from a doctor who thought it was unlikely that I had PPCM, given that I recovered without medical intervention, and he felt that with appropriate care and follow up I could have another child.

In 2007 I gave birth to my son. I was 38 years old. I was carefully monitored during delivery and the medical team ensured that the delivery was relatively "easy" for me. I was not given the fluids one normally would recieve during labour and delivery. My son's birth was not nearly as traumatic as the birth of my daughter. However, about a week post partum I began to develop serious PPCM symptoms again. I went to emergency once but was sent home as tests were normal. About three weeks post partum the shortness of breath had worsened, I developed a serious migraine with aura - my eyesight was affected and my vision was filled with black and white geometric shapes. I was taken to hospital again, my blood pressure (that was always perfect throughout the pregnancy) was sky high - about 225/180 I think. Doctors feared I had had a stroke. Blood tests showed abnorml readings for just about all my organs - kidney, liver, heart obviously. Fortunately I had not had a stroke. I was kept in an emergency critical care unit with my three week old son and I immediately started taking diuretics. Witin 48 hous my blood pressure stabilized and the weight off my chest and the sob lifted. I went home, taking my weight daily and contining on the diuretics. Three months post-partum I stopped taking the medication and went through a large number of cardiac tests. My heart had recovered, again. I was told that I certainly had PPCM and that I should not have further pregnancies.

Five years after the birth of my son I went through extensive cardiac testing again. Everything was still normal.I am one of the lucky ones, I realise that. My PPCM was relatively mild. I recovered quickly, with no permanent damage to my heart.

I just learned that a 35 year old mother of three in my city died of PPCM in March. I can't help but wonder if she could have survived had she know of the conditions, and the symptoms. I am committed to sharing my story now and trying to educate others on this rare condition.

My Details

  • Date Diagnosed: 10/04/2006
  • Child: 3
  • Initial EF: 999
  • Current EF: 999

Story By Paula Thompson

Related Articles

Woke up confused.

I have a hard time finding another story quite like mine no matter how hard I look. I was 26 and pregnant with my second

Help Support my work

Money goes towards my writing, advocacy work, hosting and web development.

Support me

Subscribe to My Heart Sisters

Get the latest posts delivered right to your inbox