Tributes as teacher, 29, dies weeks after becoming a mum
PUBLISHED: 05:30 13 October 2018 | UPDATED: 09:05 14 October 2018
A heartbroken husband has paid tribute to his popular teacher wife who died shortly after giving birth to their first child.
Charlotte Shields-Bayliss died aged just 29 from peripartum cardiomyopathy, a rare type of heart failure that occurs during pregnancy or immediately after delivery of the baby.
Today her husband Tom spoke of his heartache: “This illness is the cruellest.
“To have your life ripped apart and a new baby being with out a mum for the rest of their life. It’s just not fair.”
Mrs Shields-Bayliss gave birth to Delilah – who is healthy – at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds on September 19.
However, her condition became increasingly serious and she was transferred to Papworth Hospital near Cambridge where she died on Wednesday.
Mr Shields-Bayliss, of Thurston, near Bury St Edmunds, said he and Charlotte – who was also known as Lottie – had been together since school and married in 2016.
He said: “She was my wife, best friend and soul mate. I am proud to have called her my wife.
“She was the most unique, kind, caring person that I know and touched so many lives.
“I miss her more and more with every passing moment and will love her until the end.”
Mrs Shields-Bayliss was a textiles teacher at Stowmarket High School, where one of her pupils was making a blanket for Delilah as part of her course work.
Staff broke the news to devastated pupils on Thursday.
Headteacher Dave Lee-Allan said Mrs Shields-Bayliss joined the school last year and the tragedy had hit the school community hard.
“She had built an enviable reputation as an extremely hardworking, skilled, caring and dedicated textiles teacher,” he said.
“Telling colleagues and students was extremely difficult, but I have been deeply moved by the swell of support shared across our school community, from students supporting each other, to staff taking colleagues’ classes if that teacher needed some quiet time.”
Mr Lee-Allan said pupils had been offered the support of school nursing staff and The Mix young people’s centre in Stowmarket.
He also thanked pupils and parents for the messages of condolence and support that had poured in on social media.
What is peripartum cardiomyopathy?
Peripartum cardiomyopathy (PPCM) is a rare type of heart muscle disease which occurs during the last part of, or in the first few months after, pregnancy.
The heart becomes enlarged and weakened and less able to pump blood than normal.
Symptoms of the condition are typical of heart failure – breathlessness, coughing, palpitations and fatigue.
Figures vary, but it is thought to affect around 1 in 5,000 to 1 in 10,000 women, or 1 in every 2,000 women who give birth.
Although it can affect women at any age, it seems to be more common in those over 30.
It is not clear why PPCM develops, and it can develop in women with no history of heart conditions.
Doctors believe the condition can be caused by the increased pressures on the heart during pregnancy, or when the mother has a history of cardiomyopathy in the family.