sonia marsden - family pic together.jpeg

A Lancashire mum who suddenly collapsed during pregnancy and was admitted to intensive care after being diagnosed with multiple blood clots on her lungs has spoken of her relief and joy after surviving the ordeal and having a healthy baby.

Sonia Marsden, 30, who is married to Daniel and lives in Revidge, Blackburn, has praised all staff at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust involved in her care and says “nothing was too much trouble.”

Sonia, a chef at Northcote Manor, is also thrilled at the support she received from the hospital trust in breastfeeding baby daughter Isla.

Despite Isla struggling to breastfeed for more than three weeks, she is now completely breastfed and Sonia is glad she persevered and had so much backing.

Sonia explains: “During my pregnancy, I felt breathless and exhausted and was wheezing badly.

“It had got to the point where I felt I could not stand up at work as my legs felt like they would go from underneath me.

“I was going to the doctors about once a week to explain how I was feeling but they kept telling me it was because I was pregnant.”

When Sonia was 19-weeks pregnant, she suddenly collapsed at home.

Sonia recalls: “I was lucky as I was with my husband when I collapsed.

“I just said: ‘Dan, get an ambulance!’ as I had this feeling from head-to-toe of shutting off and then I collapsed.”

Sonia was taken to Royal Blackburn Hospital where it was discovered her heart rate was really high and she underwent lots of scans and tests.

Specialists discovered Sonia had multiple bilateral pulmonary embolisms – lots of blood clots on her lungs.

Sonia says: “We saw the scan and it looked like someone had fired a shotgun at my lungs.

“We could see all these little dots which were blood clots. There were at least 25.

“Only three days earlier, I had been at work and turned blue as I was struggling so much.

“The doctors say they believe these blood clots were pregnancy-induced and that the fact I had been on the contraceptive pill was a contributory factor.”

Sonia was admitted into Royal Blackburn Hospital’s intensive care unit where she had doctors concerned for her welfare but Sonia’s only thoughts were for her baby.

She remembers: “Doctors wanted to use a very strong clot busting drug but that would have killed my baby.

“Before 20 weeks, the baby is classed as a foetus rather than a baby and is not the priority over the mother.

“However, I was only a few days off being 20 weeks and after hearing I had blood clots, my first thought was: ‘Has my baby been getting enough oxygen?’ and doctors reassured me it wouldn’t have affected her.”

Sonia had high doses of blood thinners which were safe to take in pregnancy and was in Royal Blackburn Teaching Hospital’s intensive care unit for a week followed by eight days on a respiratory ward.

Sonia says: “I was on oxygen the whole time I was in hospital and I was also on low molecular heparin, a blood thinner that is safe to take in pregnancy.

“The care I had was fantastic. There was always someone looking after me and nothing was too much trouble.

“The first time I actually heard my baby’s heartbeat was when I was in ICU and it was lovely as I had my husband, mum and sister there with me.

“We already had pregnancy scans scheduled so the hospital staff attached me to oxygen and wheeled me down for my scans.

“They were amazing and were doing everything to look after me and my unborn baby.”

Sonia was then allowed home for the rest of the pregnancy but told to have bed rest.

She had a high dose injection of blood thinners throughout her pregnancy and was monitored with extra scans.

Baby Isla Ellen Marsden was born on January 24, 2018 weighing 6lbs 5oz and was healthy and well.

Sonia always knew she wanted to breastfeed and after everything she went through with the blood clots, it made her even more keen to breastfeed Isla.

Sonia, who is now on blood thinner warfarin for life, says: “I have always wanted to breastfeed. My mum was a nurse for more than 20 years and told us about all the benefits of breastfeeding.

“I know you can’t get better than breast milk. But I know some women struggle and I don’t judge anyone on whether or not they choose to breastfeed as that is their choice.

“But for me personally, I knew I wanted to breastfeed.”

However, Sonia experienced difficulties with getting Isla to latch on and feed.

Sonia says: “We had so much support from the hospital with breastfeeding.

“I had midwives showing me different techniques and giving me advice and they were fantastic.

“A hospital breastfeeding specialist came to see me and she did get Isla to latch on for 45 minutes.

“But after that, whenever I tried, it was proving difficult and I could not get Isla to breastfeed.”

Sonia gave Isla expressed milk from a bottle and for her first week of life, she topped it up with formula milk.

However, she persevered with trying to breastfeed Isla and every time she fed Isla, she tried for at least 15 minutes on the breast before giving her expressed milk from a bottle.

Sonia says: “We all worked really hard and there were times when I got upset and it was difficult.

"My husband was wonderful and really helped with all the equipment for expressing milk and sterilising.

“I was so tired from trying to breastfeed Isla and he was always cuddling her and sorting her out.”

Sonia’s breakthrough came when Isla was around three-and-a-half weeks old when Sonia fed her without a nipple guard and Isla latched on and fed for 15 minutes.

Isla then learned how to latch on and stay on for a full feed.

Sonia says: “It was amazing as Isla had got used to having a bottle but managed to learn to go from bottle to breast.

“Now she has gone completely the other way and breastfeeds but doesn’t want a bottle although I have a new bottle which is similar to the breast and she has taken that.

“Breastfeeding is special and the bonding is lovely and I know Isla is getting a lot of protection from my breast milk and that it is the best thing for her.”

Sonia admits that she had almost got to the point where she was going to give up on trying to get Isla to breastfeed as she felt she could not do it.

Sonia explains: “I do understand that some women can’t and don’t breastfeed and that is perfectly fine too.

“I had almost got to the point where I felt I had tried as much as I could and felt I could not do it.

“I was getting upset and Isla was getting upset and I was only a few days from giving up when I had my breakthrough.

“If you can’t breastfeed and it is too stressful for the mum, that is no good for anyone.”

Sonia is delighted to now be breastfeeding Isla and hopes her story will inspire other mums.

Sonia also goes to Livesey Breastfeeding group and says the support and care there has been tremendous too.

She says: “After everything that happened with the blood clots, I really wanted to breastfeed for Isla.

“If you know you want to breastfeed, please persevere and you will get there. It will take time and there will be pain and tears.

“But if you feel it is getting too much, you must do what you know is best for you.

“Hopefully hearing how I pulled through being diagnosed with blood clots and managed to breastfeed Isla will inspire other people.”