Walk highlights dangers of pre-eclampsia

Philippa Coulson with her son Samuel, seven months, and Belinda Rees with daughter Chloe, 18 months, get ready for the Launceston Pre-eclampsia Awareness Walk on August 23 at Royal Park. Picture: PAUL SCAMBLER
Philippa Coulson with her son Samuel, seven months, and Belinda Rees with daughter Chloe, 18 months, get ready for the Launceston Pre-eclampsia Awareness Walk on August 23 at Royal Park. Picture: PAUL SCAMBLER

BELINDA Rees knows first-hand just how debilitating pre-eclampsia can be.

Almost five years ago, Mrs Rees nearly lost her life after she gave birth to her first daughter Jessica.

For the first two days of Jessica's life, Mrs Rees was forced to recover in intensive care and could not hold, touch or even meet her first child.

Born at just 29 weeks and five days, Jessica weighed in at little over one kilogram.

Mrs Rees' second daughter Chloe came into the world 18 months ago, also forced into an early birth at around 30 weeks and weighing just 1150 grams.

Like thousands of women around the world, Mrs Rees, from Launceston, had been diagnosed with pre-eclampsia, a condition that arises only in pregnancy.

One in every 100 women in their first pregnancy are severely affected by the illness that not only puts the baby's life at risk but the mother's as well.

Although no one knows for sure what causes pre-eclampsia and it can be hard to detect early symptoms, the disease causes premature delivery in many cases.

"With Jessica, our first child, we got to 29 weeks and five days and that was because I got really lucky with an excellent obstetrician who got me that far," Mrs Rees said.

"I ended up in Hobart [in hospital] two weeks before she was born and then my obstetrician decided we should deliver her because my blood pressure was very high and they couldn't bring it down.

"I ended up in the intensive care unit for two days post having Jess, so I didn't even get to meet her for two days."

When Mrs Rees decided to have her second child, she was told that it was very unlikely that she would get the condition again, but the same thing happened.

"They kept a really close eye on me the second time around, but at 23 weeks I started showing symptoms," she said.

"I was diagnosed early and managed to get as far along as I did, which is normally pretty rare."

Today, Mrs Rees, Jessica and Chloe are all happy and healthy. However, Mrs Rees she said she wanted to raise awareness of the issue with as many expectant mothers as possible.

She has organised the Launceston AAPEC Pre-eclampsia Awareness Walk to spread the word on the issue.

The Launceston community is invited to come together for the inaugural event, which could one day lead to saving a life.

More information can be found on the walk's Facebook page HERE.

FAST FACTS

WHAT: Launceston AAPEC Preeclampsia Awareness Walk.

WHEN: Sunday, August 23, 11am.

WHERE: Royal Park, Launceston