'A massive step forward' - Mum welcomes new testing for pre-eclampsia

Georgie Withers, with husband Warren and their daughter Freya

Georgie Withers, with husband Warren and their daughter Freya - Credit: Georgie Withers

A mum who went from slightly swollen feet to having an emergency caesarean in a matter of days has welcomed new testing that will help pregnant women spot pre-eclampsia earlier.

Georgie Withers was 28-weeks pregnant with her daughter Freya when she first started to notice swelling in her feet - a tell-tale sign of pre-eclampsia.

However, her condition rapidly worsened and less than a fortnight later the only safe option for her and the baby was for a C-section to be done.

Georgie Withers, pictured in hospital with daughter Freya, who was born in 2020

Georgie Withers, pictured in hospital with daughter Freya, who was born in 2020 - Credit: Georgie Withers

Now, as new guidelines on testing for the condition are agreed by health body NICE, the 33-year-old paramedic has shared her experiences to help other expectant mothers see the signs themselves.

She said: "My pregnancy was originally assessed as low risk, so I just plodded along, but when I was around 28 weeks I started to notice a slight swelling in my feet.

"When it started to get worse I went to get myself checked out and found my blood pressure sky-rocketed."

At 29 weeks, she was admitted to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn and did not end up leaving until her daughter was born - weighing just 2lb and 10oz.

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Mrs Withers, from Leverington, near Wisbech, added: "It took just five days for my condition to go from mild swelling to life-threatening. It is only because I knew the connection between swelling and pre-eclampsia that I thought to get myself checked out.

"I dread to think what could have happened had I not known about it.

"I am one of the lucky ones, Freya is happy and healthy and about to turn two. We had a happy ending - others haven't."

The new guidance will see expectant mothers tested earlier in their pregnancies to not only rule out the condition but also rule it in. 

This will mean clinicians can make swifter decisions about preventative measures and help manage the condition sooner.

Mrs Withers added: "This feels like a massive step forwards."

Pre-eclampsia is a potentially life-threatening condition that affects women and their babies, which usually develops in the second half of pregnancy. According to pregnancy charity Tommys, it affects up to 6pc of pregnancies in the UK.

Early signs include high blood pressure and proteins in urine, with symptoms including severe headaches, vision problems, nausea, pain below the ribs and sudden swellings of hands, feet or face.

Marcus Green, chief executive of Action on Pre-eclampsia said: "We're pleased to see this vital new guidance which we hope will have a significant impact on expectant families in England and Wales."