Grieving parents warn of Covid threat in pregnancy and urge mums who test positive to get free blood thinners

Louise and Mac want expectant mums to know they can get blood thinners if they have covid symptoms

Please be aware of upsetting content

By Jodie Nesling

A heartbroken Margate couple are urging expectant mothers to remain vigilant during the pandemic following the devastating loss of their baby.

Mum-to-be, Louise Tranham was admitted to QEQM on November 17 after contracting Covid at the school where she worked  – just a week before she was due to remain at home. 

She said: “I came in as I didn’t want to let the side down but despite working in a separate room I caught it. I started to get quite breathless and lost my sense of taste and smell. I went to the hospital and my blood platelets were really low so I had a CT scan to check my lungs for clotting and they also checked the baby’s heartbeat and movements,” she said.

Louise was given the all clear and discharged that day but unbeknownst to medics a blood clot had already started to form in her placenta. She said: “I think she started to deteriorate about then, I  was feeling less movement and even though I was given blood thinners it was too late.”

Just days later on November, 23, following concerns over their baby, Louise and pub manager partner Mac Cole returned to the hospital. Routine checks then revealed their worst nightmare – their little girl’s heart had stopped and she had tragically died at 27 weeks and five days.

She said: “I had to be induced and fortunately it worked straight away -when you find out news like that you just want it to be over. We were lucky we had such amazing support by the staff – the hospital made it the best possible experience – giving birth and getting to meet her for the first time – even though obviously you want your baby to come out crying,” she said.

The couple say they were offered support including from bereavement charity Sands but have found comfort in each other. She said: “Mac’s really good at talking and our family cleared the nursery before we came home. We didn’t want to wallow there really and are trying to remain positive.”

Louise and Mac are remaining strong

Their baby, who they named Ivy Louise Cole, was cremated on December 22.  Three weeks later a post mortem report confirmed their suspicions – a blood clot caused by covid infection and present in Louise’s placenta had starved Ivy of oxygen. While it is still relatively rare for complications to arise as a result of covid, the couple say more needs to be done to raise awareness. 

She said: “You’re entitled to blood thinners for free for the duration of your pregnancy if you test positive for covid and I think midwives could be telling women this.”

Medical paper

Last June a medical paper in the journal, Endocrinology was published urging further research. It states: “One of the many complications of Covid-19 is the formation of blood clots in previously healthy people. Oestrogen increases the chance of blood clots during pregnancy and in women taking birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy. 

“If infected, these women’s risk of blood clotting could be even higher, and they may need to undergo anticoagulation therapy or to discontinue their oestrogen medicines.

“During this pandemic, we need additional research to determine if women who become infected with the coronavirus during pregnancy should receive anticoagulation therapy.”

‘Wrap yourselves in cotton wool’

Since receiving the news the couple have been approached by others with similar stories and say the lead up to Ivy’s due date was very challenging. “We marked the day (Feb 12) with candles and raised a glass to her; we are sharing our story as we don’t want her death to be in vain.

“My advice to pregnant women would be to wrap yourself in cotton wool. If it happened again, I wouldn’t leave the house. Employers should let pregnant women work from home for the duration. My school and university have been very supportive though.

“We still cannot believe this has happened to us, however if you are pregnant with covid now, you are entitled to blood thinners throughout the rest of your pregnancy to ensure this doesn’t happen again. Do not just leave it.” 

Maternity team support

Ursula Marsh, Head of Midwifery and Gynaecology for East Kent Hospitals, said; “Our hearts go out to Louise and her family. We would advise anyone who is pregnant to take extra care against the spread of coronavirus, including social distancing and staying at home wherever possible. 

“We urge any woman who has worries or concerns to always get in touch with our maternity team and to contact their midwife immediately if they think their baby’s movements have slowed down, stopped or changed. 

“If you are pregnant and test positive for Covid-19, it is important that you let the maternity team know so we can provide the correct support and guidance.”