Baby Amira survives serious complications in utero

Baby Amira survives serious complications in utero

Little Amira Alwesi endured a potentially life-threatening journey in utero before she entered the world and thanks to the lifesaving care she received at Mater Mothers' Hospitals, she is now a healthy little girl. 

First time mum, Belinda Alwesi was progressing well in her pregnancy until she was diagnosed with gestational diabetes at 24 weeks gestation.

If not managed properly, gestational diabetes can result in excess growth of the baby which can increase risk of complications during labour.

Gestational diabetes can also cause hyper-insulinaemia in the baby, which means the baby’s blood sugars are high and will drop immediately after birth because the baby is not receiving the mother’s high blood sugar.

Belinda said she was lucky that she had excellent support to help manage her diabetes correctly—but soon after her diagnosis of gestational diabetes, she experienced a new and unusual symptom of profound itching all over her body.

“My doctor found that I was suffering from obstetric cholestasis, which meant my pregnancy hormones were causing my liver and bile and other toxins to build up in my blood, causing severe itching,” Belinda said.

Obstetric cholestasis causes severe itching, due to a build-up of liver toxins under the skin.  When the liver is not functioning normally, these toxins can also build-up in the baby, with an increased the risk of fetal distress or even fetal death

“It was such a difficult pregnancy because I was dealing with not just one, but two medical conditions,” Belinda said.

“I had to be so careful with my diet to make sure my blood sugar levels were at a safe level for both me and my baby. On top of that I was incredibly uncomfortable from the severe itching I was experiencing.

“There were times when I would be reduced to tears and I would have more than five showers a day just to try and relieve my itching—it was incredibly unbearable. In the later part of my pregnancy, my doctor told me that if my bile acid levels didn’t decrease, my baby could go into cardiac arrest or worse.”

At 34 weeks gestation, Belinda’s labour was induced because her bile acid levels were still alarmingly high and both mother and baby were at risk of complications.

Amira Alwesi was born on 24 May 2013 weighing 3.04 kg and was rushed straight to the Special Care Nursery at Mater Mothers’ Hospital where she spent the next two weeks.

“Amira had to be monitored to make sure she wasn’t affected by the obstetric cholestasis, gestational diabetes or her premature birth,” Belinda said.

“For the first few days Amira needed a nasogastric tube because she wasn’t able to feed properly.

“The support and care I received from the clinical staff at Mater Mothers’ Hospital was amazing—they kept us all calm and reassured us that everything was going to be OK. I wouldn’t have been able to get through without their support. There were times when I was so heartbroken about what my baby was going through but the support at Mater Mothers made it so much easier.”

Thanks to the lifesaving care Amira received from Mater Mothers’ Hospitals, she is now a happy and healthy toddler who loves going to her local library and swimming.  


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For urgent assessment at any stage of your pregnancy, please present to your nearest emergency centre or Mater Mothers’ 24/7 Pregnancy Assessment Centre in South Brisbane.

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