I thought I was going to die after horrific tear while giving birth – I have accidents twice a week | The Sun
A MUM left with horrific life-changing injuries after childbirth has spoken out to raise awareness around 'birth trauma'.
Leonnie Downes, 31, was excited to raise a baby with wife Emma Downes, 34.
But a traumatic birth, which left the Lancashire based mum with a tear which extends to the muscle that controls the anus, has ruined her life.
Leonnie now struggles with severe bowel incontinence and urgency.
This means she can't be away from a toilet for long and has to plan anything involving her leaving the house.
She said: "I have accidents twice a week, my whole life has changed.
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"It's been incredibly embarrassing because it's not talked about."
It comes as ministers announced a new NHS plan earlier this month to tackle birth injuries and trauma that rob the 'joy of pregnancy' from tens and thousands of British women.
During the birth of her son George on February 2, 2017, Leonnie fell ill with sepsis, a severe condition in which the body overreacts to an infection.
While this was happening, her unborn son's heart rate shot up, meaning he needed to be delivered quickly using forceps.
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After the birth, Leonnie felt so unwell she said to her wife, "I don't know if I'm going to make it".
But she was quickly put on antibiotics, which cleared up the infection.
In the hours that followed, the new mum began to struggle with incontinence and bowel urgency – but dismissed it as "normal".
Leonnie found herself always near a toilet and was scared to leave the house for fear of an accident happening.
"I have got a bag of my clothes with me when I go out, everything is planned," she explained.
The mum even attempted to take her life in 2019 and has now been left with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from the birth.
She said: "I don't leave the house a lot because of my severe anxiety.
"I have nightmares about bowel incontinence or the birth.
"I've lost myself; this will never go away."
She eventually went to see a doctor 18 months after the birth but was told there was nothing wrong.
After going again, she was diagnosed with a third-degree tear in June 2020 but had to wait until January 2023 for surgery to help repair the tear – because of delays due to Covid.
Unfortunately, the doctors could not repair the tear and are looking into further treatment for Leonnie – such as rectal nerve stem stimulation or a stoma bag.
Leonnie said the birth injury also impacted her relationship with Emma.
"My wife has gone from my wife to carer, which nearly ruined my marriage," she explained.
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"She's been incredible – I couldn't ask for a better wife," she added.
MP Theo Clarke spoke out about her birth trauma as part of a parliamentary debate and called for the government to add it to the women's health strategy.
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