Being treated for Sepsis Postpartum
Being treated for Sepsis Postpartum – I thought that the struggles that I was having with the breastfeeding was as bad as it would get. I had cracked nipples, feeling permanently sweaty from the elongated time spent feeding and two slit like wounds on either nipple which were from his top lip.
I needed help and was receiving this from the midwife team and was due to be seen by a Lactation Consultant.
I spent two whole days doing nothing but pumping, feeding and crying alongside poor Freddie who essentially just wanted to feed.
Every time he cried my boobs reacted like beacons which gave me further pain.
The expressing was going well but was totally impractical unless that was all I had to do in life.
It wasn’t an ideal situation but I just needed to rest my poor nipples from Freddie’s Dyson like suction.
The expressing took a nosedive. After an hour sat like Daisy the cow hooked up to the pump I only managed to express the smallest amount of milk.
This also happened at about 10.30 at night so no help available. It wasn’t a hard decision to make to send Chris to Tesco’s for some formula. Freddie needed to be fed and if it had to be formula for a temporary period of time then so be it.
I carried on with the pumping but only managed to express a minimal amount each time so we had lots of crying both Freddie and I.
The following day I woke up with hot mega swollen engorged breasts which were only producing blood and pus. I was at my wits end and poor Freddie was getting angrier by the second at the lack of milk.
I was shaking uncontrollably and so cold and really had no idea what I was supposed to do. This was my second episode of this which I’d just put down to being tired and not having eaten properly. When the midwife phoned I was in a bit of a state and she suggested ringing the triage ward at the hospital.
The advice was to go up to the hospital to be assessed for mastitis. I just thought it would be a case of being seen and coming home with some antibiotics and feeding advice.
But no I was pretty quickly hooked up to IV fluids, swabbed from various bits of my body, blood pressure taken, temperature, heart rate etc. I was then given two lots of antibiotics through the IV and seen by various people.
I wasn’t going home – I was being treated for Sepsis as a precaution.
Freddie was to stay with me and was checked over by one of the neo-natal doctors in case he started to show any signs of infection.
My bloods came back showing raised inflammatory markers but the chest x-ray came back clear. I had a raised heart rate and my obs weren’t quite within the normal range.
I was moved to the post-natal ward and put in a side room where Freddie could stay with me. There was a possibility that Freddie could develop the infection so they put him under observation as well as me.
I don’t think I realised how serious things were until they mentioned Freddie being cannulated and hooked up to IV tubes. I hadn’t cried or done anything but was running on autopilot until that point, but the thought of my little boy having to have tubes and needles poked into him really upset me.
Being attached to an IV line wasn’t much fun. You have to remember to pull the trolly thing along with you or you risk pulling it out of your hand – a painful reminder when you forget each time.
At this point it was still a possibility that I could return to feeding but I just couldn’t see it at all. When all you see when you look at your nipples is open wounds oozing green pus and blood how can you put a baby on to feed? How would you feed without it being excruciatingly painful?
No. I’d made my decision not to attempt feeding again and I felt happy in my decision even though I desperately wanted to feed him.
Chris stayed with us as much as he could and Isabelle came to see us on the second day. She found the chair on wheels that you use to sit on in the shower which she thought was quite amusing so spent most of the time wheeling herself around on that.
On day three I was really keen to go home. The swabs had grown Strep B and Staph so they knew what they were dealing with and I was changed to Flucloxacillin orally. Freddie was still at risk of having this and would need IV antibiotics if he showed any signs. It’s quite hard to swallow knowing that you might have passed on something to your baby which could be potentially very serious for him.
It’s hot in the hospital and quite hard to sleep when they have to change drips and take obs on either me or Freddie throughout the day and night.
Poor Freddie was also constipated as a result of changing him from breast to formula milk.
We were quite relieved when we were finally given the all clear to go home on the Friday.
This comes at the same time that Sepsis is being highlighted greatly through the media. Coronation Street are currently running a storyline in which Jack is diagnosed with Sepsis following a graze on his leg. Sepsis can of course be life threatening so early diagnosis is crucial.
In my case, the staff at my local hospital weren’t taking any chances with Freddie and I, and we were given the works in terms of tests and treatment which we were so thankful for.
what is Sepsis?
Sepsis is a rare but serious complication of an infection which can lead to multiple organ failure and death.
How to spot the signs of Sepsis in under 5’s – Ring 999 or go straight to A&E if:
- looks mottled, bluish or pale
- is very lethargic or difficult to wake
- feels abnormally cold to touch
- is breathing very fast
- has a rash that does not fade when you press it
- has a fit or convulsion
Other symptoms to look out for are:
- temperature over 38C in babies under three months
- temperature over 39C in babies aged three to six months
- any high temperature in a child who cannot be encouraged to show interest in anything
- low temperature (below 36C – check three times in a 10-minute period)
- finding it much harder to breathe than normal – looks like hard work
- making “grunting” noises with every breath
- can’t say more than a few words at once (for older children who normally talk)
- breathing that obviously “pauses”
- not had a wee or wet nappy for 12 hours
Eating and drinking
- new baby under one month old with no interest in feeding
- not drinking for more than eight hours (when awake)
- bile-stained (green), bloody or black vomit/sick
Activity and body
- soft spot on a baby’s head is bulging
- eyes look “sunken”
- child cannot be encouraged to show interest in anything
- baby is floppy
- weak, “whining” or continuous crying in a younger child
- older child who’s confused
- not responding or very irritable
- stiff neck, especially when trying to look up and down
If your child has any of these symptoms, is getting worse or is sicker than you’d expect (even if their temperature falls), trust your instincts and seek medical advice urgently from NHS 111.
For older children and adults:
- a high temperature (fever) or low body temperature
- chills and shivering
- a fast heartbeat
- fast breathing
In some cases, symptoms of more severe sepsis or septic shock (when your blood pressure drops to a dangerously low level) develop soon after.
These can include:
- feeling dizzy or faint
- a change in mental state – such as confusion or disorientation
- nausea and vomiting
- slurred speech
- severe muscle pain
- severe breathlessness
- less urine production than normal – for example, not urinating for a day
- cold, clammy and pale or mottled skin
- loss of consciousness
This information about the signs and symptoms of Sepsis was taken from the NHS website and many of the symptoms are quite non-specific but it’s always best to get things checked out. You know your baby, child or yourself so don’t ignore your instincts or early warning signs.
Sepsis is treatable if identified and treated as early as possible.
The Sepsis Trust have campaigns running to raise awareness and urge people to ask the question – ‘Could it be Sepsis?’. Head on over to the Sepsis Trust to find out about events local to you or make a direct donation.