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Baking in love, awareness: Kansas City-area mom shares her preeclampsia story

Mama Bird Treats owner preeclampsia story
Posted at 7:24 AM, May 30, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Imagine this: it’s late into your pregnancy and you take a bath to relieve some aches and pains.

For Sarah Findley, this standard act of self-care threw her into a dangerous preterm delivery because of preeclampsia.

“I took a bubble bath with my last pregnancy, and I got overheated, my blood pressure started to rise, and it threw me into like a dizzy spell and I had to be induced,” said Findley, owner of Mama Bird Treats.

Preeclampsia is a high blood pressure disorder that affects one in 25 pregnancies. It can cause preterm birth and is it’s one of the leading causes of maternal death according to the CDC. Findley knows firsthand how dangerous it is for the mother and the baby.

“My best friend will tell you she thought I was going to die,” Findley said.

Findley knew she was at risk for preeclampsia, but not that a bubble bath could set it off.

“I had dizzy spells and lower abdominal pain,” Findley said.

Even though Findley thought she knew the warning signs, the disorder can present itself in a multitude of ways.

“The problem is it's such a spectrum of a disease it can go from something that's just a little edema, to someone who gets critically ill,” maternal fetal medicine specialist Dr. Elizabeth Wickstrom said. “We will usually see the classic triad of high blood pressure protein in the urine, and then edema or swelling.”

She encourages pregnant women to check their own blood pressure between doctor visits.

The Preeclampsia Foundation says the disorder is 60% more common in Black women, who have higher pregnancy related death rates than white women. As the leading cause of pregnancy-related death for all, knowing the warning signs and staying stress free is vital.

“I started Mama Bird Treats as a way to keep calm,” Findley said.

She called baking her safe haven.

“When I'm stressed or I'm feeling like I don’t have control of anything, it’s something I feel like I can really like find my ground in,” Findley said.

Now, she owns Mama Bear Treats and often makes cookies for soon-to-be moms.

“When I am creating these sets, I am definitely keeping the mom and the baby in mind,” Findley said.

She’s keeping mom and baby's safety in mind, while Dr. Wickstrom wants to give moms a piece of advice.

“You are the one that is the protector of you and your brain and your family. So be your own champion. Go in and be heard,” Dr. Wickstrom said.