Sepsis is a life-threatening reaction to an infection, it happens when your immune system overreacts to an infection and starts to damage your body’s own tissues and organs.
It can be very hard to spot and life threatening, so as September is Sepsis Awareness Month, Toni from @twin.stagram_ wanted to share her story of sepsis after the birth of her first son.
This isn’t going to be about my childbirth story, but about my recovery. So I’ll give a quick run over of bringing my son into the world.
I was 9 days late, I’d had 2 sweeps and finally the next day I started feeling new sensations and I was sure my body was going into labour. At 5pm that evening contractions started and I was able to carry on through them. We went to bed and during the night they got stronger and stronger and by 5am they were too much to handle.
Saturday September 9th
We went into maternity and I was measured at 7cm dilated. It was exciting thinking only a few more cm and we would get to meet our baby boy, but a further 12 hours later and I was too exhausted. They used a suction (Ventouse) on Williams head, gave me and episiotomy and finally after 24 hours he was here weighing 9lb1.7oz!
And that was that. I felt amazing, we were taken round onto a ward with other recently delivered mums/babies. By the evening of the following day we were discharged and home ready to start our life as a family of 3!
So this is where things went wrong for me, I remember on the Monday afternoon feeling really cold and weak, and I thought it was just my body coming down from all the adrenaline and excitement from the last couple of days. I took a couple of paracetamol and began to feel more normal.
They wore off and I’d feel awful again. I distinctively remember getting up in the night to do a night feed and I was so dizzy! I ate a cereal bar because I thought maybe I wasn’t eating enough for my body to recover? I went back to bed and woke up still feeling crummy. I got everything ready for the day and jumped in the bath, and for a while I felt brilliant. It was only that evening , I had this horrific pain across my stomach, and I was in tears at the kitchen and couldn’t even stand straight, because it felt like my stomach was going to rip apart.
My husband phoned the number we were given when we were discharged in case we had any concerns / problems and they said it sounded like a UTI but they wanted us in.
When we got into the hospital, they began monitoring me, I had to give a urine sample, they took swabs and put me on the monitors for blood pressure/ heart rate. I didn’t have a clue what was going on but my husband looked at me and said your heart rate is through the roof.
When we’d jumped in the car, we thought we’d get there and just be given some antibiotics. I didn’t pack anything for me or William and we only had his changing bag. But they admitted me! The midwife first said she thought it was an infection in my womb and so they would send off the swabs for cultures and then could treat me.
The next week was so blurry! I had a catheter in. I was hallucinating. I was having to use the side of the bed to pull myself up to tend to William, I didn’t at this point know I had sepsis and I don’t even know why I didn’t ask for pain relief because I couldn’t move. I had to let my husband take William home with him because I was so weak. They trialled so many different antibiotics.
Let me add, It’s quite apparent they don’t tell you that you have sepsis, I only found out because a member of staff made a passing comment when I was getting upset that I just wanted to go home! William was with his dad because I was just too weak to care for him and it broke my heart! I was so scared.
When they finally came back to tell me what infections had caused the sepsis. It turned out to be Strep A and E.coli, but that they finally knew which antibiotics they could use to combat it!
I’d been in 10 days when I was finally discharged and I was so grateful and relieved!
Though I’m fully recovered from the sepsis and infections, it has left me incredibly emotional every time I think about the first few weeks of being a mum and what I went through. I felt robbed of how I’d pictured spending the first few weeks with our new arrival. I’d missed out on him meeting his first family members.
When I got home I became very paranoid about germs and how I’d picked up E.coli and Strep A. Was it from our home? So I was bleaching everything. And to this day I’m still very conscious of it. It lead me to become nervous about delivering any future babies, and so when we decided to have another baby, which turned out to be another 2 (twins) I knew straight away I’d ask for a csection. I was so terrified of delivering naturally.
I had no control over the room. How many different midwives/nurses/drs came in and out and who knows what germs they may have passed me, plus I had to move room when they needed to get William out because he needed help.
So I felt that if being in one room where all the staff didn’t leave till the babies were out and I was all stitched up made me feel like it was much more sterile and that I would be much safer and less at risk.
A lot more people have infections after childbirth that lead to sepsis than I think we are aware of. What I want to make people aware of, is if you feel unwell at all please do not try and treat it with some paracetamol. Your body has been through so much and its easy to confuse symptoms with tiredness and thinking you’re just recovering from childbirth.
I hate making a fuss, and it still terrifies me thinking what would have happened if I’d have left it any longer.
If you are ever worried please do ring 111.
Any questions @twin.stagram_ would be happy to answer and please do give her a follow, she now also has the most wonderful twin girls Olivia & Elyssa.
There are some great places to get information on Sepsis, it is important that you know the symptoms both for adults and babies – quick treatment really could save a life.
The NHS have some good information – to read the symptoms of sepsis click here .
The Sepsis Trust is also great for information – they have a range of different real life stories so click here to check them out.