'My heart stopped twice while I was giving birth'

Keeley Wilson had two cardiac arrests and had to be given CPR to restart her heart while giving birth to her daughter. (Keeley Wilson/SWNS)
Keeley Wilson had two cardiac arrests and had to be given CPR to restart her heart while giving birth to her daughter. (Keeley Wilson/SWNS)

A mum has shared how she experienced two cardiac arrests and had to be given CPR to restart her heart while she was giving birth.

Keeley Wilson, 36, from Rochdale, Greater Manchester, remembers her ECG monitor flatlining and hearing the long beep while the surgeon started the cut to perform a C-Section.

Her next memory is seeing the face of the anaesthetist who was performing chest compressions, before her heart stopped once again.

Wilson came round a second time to hear her newborn, Sophia, crying and discovering she had suffered broken ribs during the attempt to re-start her heart.

Incredibly, despite tests, doctors were never able to find out exactly why she'd experienced two cardiac arrests while welcoming her daughter.

But the ordeal left her with PTSD, suffering anxiety and experiencing flashbacks and nightmares.

"I think it's fair to say I actually died twice," Wilson, who works as a travel consultant and owns a business decorating Christmas trees explains.

"My last memory was feeling so sick, then seeing the line go flat and hearing that long beep, and everyone hitting buttons.

"Then I remember the anaesthetist standing over me saying my name over and over.

"I saw her face in my sleep for about six months because I had nightmares about this."

Wilson pregnant in hospital. (Keeley Wilson/SWNS)
Wilson pregnant in hospital. (Keeley Wilson/SWNS)

Sophia, now three, was born weighing 7lb 12oz at 10.18am on May 18 2021 after an uncomplicated pregnancy.

Wilson had opted for an elective caesarean because she'd had an emergency C-Section when her first daughter, Mya, now 14, was in the breach position.

As the surgery began Wilson says she felt an overwhelming urge to be sick. Then she saw the ECG line flatten on the screen and heard the long beep, which signals a loss of heartbeat.

Wilson says she was unconscious for around two minutes then lost consciousness again and woke to hear her baby cry.

Though her heart had stopped again, she doesn't know how long for, but she believes doctors used a.defibrillator to restart her heart and gave her adrenaline.

All in all she thinks she was in theatre for just over two hours.

Following the experience she underwent an ECG and a chest X-ray and was told she had fractured ribs from being given chest compressions.

Though she was able to go home the following day, Wilson says she struggled with pain for months.

"I was in so much pain afterwards," she says.

"I could have coped with the C-Section but the broken ribs were agony.

"I had to sleep propped up for about two months because of the pain in my chest.

"I couldn't lift my baby and it even hurt to have her lay on my chest - that made me so sad.

"I just wanted to cuddle her and couldn't, which made me feel like a failure and I worried in case we didn't bond.

"The first time I could pick her up and hug her felt amazing.

"Thankfully we have a really strong bond: if anything I think this has made us even closer."

A few weeks after welcoming her daughter Wilson met with hospital staff, but no one could explain why her heart had stopped during birth.

Wilson pictured with her daughter Sophia. (Keeley Wilson/SWNS)
Wilson pictured with her daughter Sophia. (Keeley Wilson/SWNS)

Her GP also put her in contact with the patient advice and liaison service (PALS), but it still unclear what caused her unusual birth experience.

But Wilson says the experience has really taken a toll on her mental wellbeing.

"I had PTSD and was emotionally traumatised for about six months," she explains.

"I've never had any other mental health problems but this gave me anxiety and flashbacks."

Not knowing exactly what happened has also likely contributed to Wilson's emotions about the event.

"I still feel confused," she explains.

"I can accept that it's happened and that I've moved on but when I think about it I still feel the shock of it."

Wilson says she's keen to hear from other mothers who have had similar experiences.

"The midwives, my GP, and the anaesthetist all said they didn't know how that could just happen to me," she explains.

"Everyone just seemed so shocked.

"But not knowing how it happened meant that it's been much harder for me to put it behind me."

Additional reporting SWNS.