Mothers Intuition Saved Lauras Life

Stroke Foundation

Rachel Kaeslar may have saved her daughter’s life by following her maternal instincts. When she was 37 weeks pregnant, she knew something was not right.

At hospital, an ECG revealed her baby was in distress. Shortly after, on New Years Eve in 2021, baby Laura was born via emergency caesarean section.

“She was having some issues and needed oxygen, that’s when we discovered she was having seizures,” Rachel said.

COVID restrictions and visitor limits made it challenging for Rachel and her husband Arlen to see baby Laura, who was transferred via specialist ambulance to a bigger hospital.

“There wasn’t a bed for me, so Arlen went with her, and I followed several hours later. Laura was only two days old when an MRI revealed damage to the left side of her brain. They found a blood clot lodged in one of the arteries in the placenta,” she said.

“It troubles me that we weren’t together when we got the news. They called me and put me on loudspeaker and told me about the stroke.”

Laura was six days old before her family finally got to hold her and take those special first photos.

When Laura was four months old, she received NDIS funding which gave her access to early intervention therapies. Laura is now two years old. She lives with Cerebral Palsy, cortical vision impairment and epilepsy as a result of the stroke.

Laura loves reading books, swimming and listening to the Wiggles. Rachel is sharing Laura’s story to mark Paediatric Stroke Awareness Month which runs every May.

“My message to other mums is to trust your gut in pregnancy. You know your body best, you know your babies’ movements, so if something does not feel right, get it checked,” Rachel said.

“I knew children could have a stroke, but I didn’t know a baby could have a stroke in utero. Your placenta is supposed to keep your baby alive, not endanger them. Having a baby changes your life, but having a child with a disability really changes your life and your perspective.”

Stroke Foundation Chief Executive Officer Dr Lisa Murphy said Laura’s story proves stroke can happen to people of all ages.

“People often associate stroke with the elderly, but that’s simply not true. Up to 600 Australian children have a stroke each year,” Dr Murphy said.

“Perinatal stroke happens before birth or shortly after birth, between 28 weeks of pregnancy and one month old. Childhood stroke happens in a child aged from one month to eighteen years old.

“We know the faster an adult or child with stroke gets to hospital and receives medical treatment, the better their chance of survival and a good recovery.”

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