No Signs, No Warning: A Postpartum Preeclampsia Story

June 22, 2023 By Starlita Kilpatrick

No Signs, No Warning: A Postpartum Preeclampsia Story

I am a postpartum preeclampsia survivor. In 2017, while in the throes of motherhood with a then 4-year-old, 1-year-old, and newborn, a random blood pressure self-check warranted a call to my midwife and trip to the local hospital. Because they lacked a Maternity Unit, the doctors would not admit or stabilize me. After having my supportive husband drive another 20 minutes into town to a full-range hospital, I was ultimately admitted with blood pressure over 200/100 and without other preeclampsia signs. Two days later, I was discharged home on blood pressure medication and a Cardiologist referral, only to return to the ER three hours later and be readmitted for an additional 3-day stay. It was not until I later followed up with my midwife, post-hospital discharge, that I learned of my preeclampsia diagnosis.

I was so confused. I knew about preeclampsia, and I was not pregnant. How could I have preeclampsia? After further research, namely Google searching, I learned about Postpartum Preeclampsia. I. Had. No. Idea. Since then, I’ve made it my mission to educate other moms about Postpartum Pre-E. In the process, I quickly learned that many other moms experienced this but had no idea it was Postpartum Pre-E, just like me! It has driven me to not only raise awareness about Postpartum Pre-E, but to give support to moms who have experienced it.

A few years later, I learned about the Preeclampsia Foundation and immediately began volunteering by hosting a Promise Walk in my community and raising money for research, awareness, advocacy, and support. My volunteerism with the Preeclampsia Foundation continues today, serving with their Patient Advisory Council, MoMMA'S Voices, Take 10 Campaign, and more.

Amidst all this, I became a doula, lactation educator, and babywearing consultant. I share my story with others through my work in the community and partnerships with organizations nationwide in order to raise awareness of postpartum preeclampsia and improve the outcomes of all perinatal hypertensive disorders, highlighting Black Maternal Health. Being a mom of color, an Afro-Filipina, I quickly learned of the disproportionate rates of Black and Brown moms losing their lives during and after pregnancy and birth. Many of us are unaware of the harms of preeclampsia, especially postpartum preeclampsia, and I am passionate about supporting, empowering, and mentoring other mothers with similar experiences. I believe all mothers should receive proper and adequate information and perinatal care regardless of race, ethnicity, or zip code.