File photo: The mom shared her traumatic birth story on TikTok and immediately her posts went viral. Picture: AP
File photo: The mom shared her traumatic birth story on TikTok and immediately her posts went viral. Picture: AP

Mom's traumatic birth story goes viral: ’I woke up not knowing I’d given birth’

By Marchelle Abrahams Time of article published Oct 6, 2021

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For Kayleigh Summers, her pregnancy was a normal one. Like any first-time mother, the Philadelphia-based school clinician says she was fearful of possible complications during childbirth.

But nothing could prepare her for what was about to transpire in July 2019. The mom shared her traumatic birth story on TikTok, and immediately her posts went viral.

During labour, she was 10cm dilated and suddenly started feeling very sick. Her nurse told her it was normal to feel ill and said her vitals showed as normal.

“Then I screamed something is wrong with my heart,” said Summers. That’s when she collapsed and went into cardiac arrest. “I was experiencing AFE (amniotic fluid embolism) and required CPR two separate times in 12 minutes, a hysterectomy and 140 units of blood to save my life.”


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Five days after waking up, she did not know she had given birth while on a ventilator.

“So much recovery happened that I didn’t get to be a mom. So the psychological effects of this birth trauma still affects me today, 20 months out. But there’s a lot of anger and guilt wrapped up in almost dying during your son’s birth and then having your fertility taken away from you without your knowledge,” she added.


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"It's been a long journey to get where I am today. It's not easy to reconcile being clinically dead as your child is born," Summers told Shape magazine.

Fortunately for her, her son Callahan was born healthy.

Today, her various social media channels, including TikTok and Instagram, have amassed thousands of followers as she raises awareness around AFE.


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Amniotic fluid embolism (AFE), also known as anaphylactoid syndrome of pregnancy, is a pregnancy complication that causes life-threatening conditions, such as heart failure, according to Healthline.

AFE occurs when amniotic fluid or foetal cells, hair, or other debris make their way into your blood.

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