When babies save mothers’ lives

Bradley Mattes   |   February 15, 2018

A baby is the most obvious benefit to pregnancy, but sometimes there are profound and unexpected rewards.

In these particular cases, the mothers and some medical staff credit the baby with saving mom’s life.

Mallory Brinson

Mallory Brinson was 26 weeks into her pregnancy with twins when she began experiencing severe pain and pressure.

The doctors’ diagnosis was the last thing she and her husband Heath expected.

Mallory had Acute Myeloid Leukemia. This type of cancer can progress quickly if not treated and would likely be fatal within months. An early diagnosis is essential.

What makes Mallory’s case so interesting is that without her pregnancy and its complications, doctors may not have found the leukemia in time to save her. The physicians estimated the disease had only been present in Mallory’s body for three or four weeks.

Photo: The Commercial Appeal

During her first week of chemotherapy, she developed a high fever and her water broke. The twins are now doing well in a neonatal unit. In another hospital, Mallory is undergoing additional chemotherapy treatment. She keeps tabs on her daughters by laptop. “They will do certain movements when I talk to them,” the proud mother said.

Mallory will need an adult stem cell transplant to keep the cancer at bay, but doctors are optimistic and she is grateful: “I definitely think they saved my life.”

Shelly Cawley

Shelly Cawley was put under anesthesia for an emergency caesarian section due to eclampsia (extreme high blood pressure). The good news is she delivered a healthy baby girl. However, a previously-diagnosed blood clot in her leg migrated to her lung after delivery, and Shelly slipped into a coma.

With her vitals critically low, doctors told her husband Jeremy they had done all they could and were very guarded about her outcome.

It was then that a nurse came up with a surprising recommendation.

“We’re a big proponent of skin-to-skin [contact],” said Ashley Manus. “We believe it has great benefits for the mom and the baby.” So they gave it a try.

Jeremy said little Rylan was so content to lay on Shelly’s chest, she quickly went off to sleep, so they had to tickle and even pinch the newborn to get her to cry.

And it worked.

Photo: Cawley Family

Fast forward 12 months and mom and baby have fully recovered. “I can tell her when she grows up that she saved my life,” said Shelly.

It appears from these cases anyway that a mother and her baby(ies) make a good team during the miracle of reproduction.

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