Scan changes course of Catherine's pregnancy
I had no idea that cervix length could be measured or the significance it has in predicting preterm birth.
When Catherine and Mathew Korteweg first began planning their son’s fourth birthday, they didn’t think Beau becoming a big brother would be a belated present just days later.
Despite enjoying a textbook pregnancy, it was the recommendation of an experienced midwife that Catherine’s pregnancy be observed more closely by an obstetrician due to inflammatory arthritis and a pre-existing placenta issue.
“I was on a pretty standard care plan throughout the pregnancy, taking low dose aspirin early on as a mitigating strategy for the medication I was on. No concerns had been flagged that needed investigation at my initial scans.”
It wasn’t until her 28 week scan that a sonographer saw that Catherine’s cervix was short at 1.2cm and had started to funnel. What followed was a whirlwind week for the Korteweg family.
“As we are rural, she called in my midwife straight away who phoned the obstetrics team and sent me to be checked out. At the time I thought I was going to just have an overnight stay, examined, and sent home.”
The obstetrician explained to Catherine that she was at very high risk of preterm labour.
“If I went into labour early, and an ambulance took too long, things wouldn't be good. I was put on progesterone and advised to stay in the city to be close to the hospital and come back in a week for another scan.
“I remember feeling very overwhelmed all of a sudden. We are self-employed dairy farmers with a 4 year old. The thought of just not going home that day to sort everything out, and being away from Beau indefinitely, was very confronting.”
The following week’s scan showed her cervix had shortened further to 0.5cm.
Despite doubling the progesterone dose and undergoing a course steroid injections, things began to unravel very quickly. An examination revealed Catherine was having regular contractions with her amniotic fluid leaking.
Born via an emergency C-section at 29 weeks and weighing 1440 grams, Leo was welcomed into the world by mum and a still out-of-breath dad who had arrived into theatre just minutes earlier.
“I can remember a deafening silence as I looked up wondering if he was OK, hoping he was OK, and then we heard him cry and there really is no better sound.”
After spending 6 weeks and 2 days in the NICU, Leo was welcomed home to Leneva Farm with minimal health complications.
Since their preterm birth experience, Catherine and Mathew have a new appreciation of the Alliance’s work to prevent preterm birth and it far reaching impacts.
“Since our journey with Leo, a friend in WA told me about Professor John Newnham and his pioneering research to prevent preterm birth, particularly around cervix length,” she said.
“Before my experience, I had absolutely no idea that cervix length was, or could be measured, or the significance it has in predicting preterm birth. Leo is here today, in the health that he is in, because of it and the team of incredible health professionals that looked after Leo and I.”