A terrifying experience giving birth prompted Sian Redman-Jama to write a bucket list and this new year she’s celebrating after ticking off number one – losing weight
Feeling herself “slip away” on the operating table while in labour, she then lost the ability to walk and talk in the days that followed. And the horror made her determined to live life with her family to the full.
So, while recovering from the frightening experience, she decided to write a list of things she wanted to accomplish, and top of that list was ‘lose weight’.
Just less than a year on, this New Year’s Day the 37-year-old is celebrating achieving that goal, having lost seven stone and nine pounds with Slimming World.
Sian gained five stone after becoming pregnant with her first child, Adam, after she was told there was a risk he could have a low birth weight.
She says she saw that as a “green light” to eat everything and anything she wanted to try to help the baby reach a good weight.
However, as District Manager for Slimming World in South East Wales and the Shires, she felt embarrassed about her size when she was admitted to hospital to give birth last January.
After repeated attempts to induce her over several days, doctors made the decision to deliver Adam via an emergency caesarean section.
In theatre, doctors administered an epidural and Sian began to have horrendous side effects. “I was told to shuffle back and at that point I couldn’t breathe. I freaked out, I just knew something was wrong.”
Sian says she remembers people shouting “Sian stay with us” and said she felt herself slip away.
“I could hear the doctors working on me. At that time, I thought I was dying and would never get to see my husband again or meet my baby.”
Thankfully, Sian’s fears didn’t come true and she awoke on the high dependency unit with her son, Adam, and husband, Mohamed, by her side.
However, Sian’s initial relief was short-lived as she began suffering horrific headaches.
“I was kept in hospital for monitoring and had been suffering painful headaches. Then when I was discharged and I tried to get out of bed, I felt a searing pain like someone had shot me through the head. I started screaming because the pain was so bad.
“All the doctors came running in and one said to get the cardiac arrest team. Again I thought, ‘this is it, I’m gone!’”
Doctors discovered the headaches were caused by spinal fluid leaking after failed epidurals. In the following days, she found herself unable to walk or talk.
“I could hardly do anything for 10 days. It was terrifying.”
After two surgeries on her spinal cord, called blood patch treatments, to replace her lost spinal fluid, Sian’s symptoms disappeared.
However, the experience inspired Sian, from Rogerstone in Newport, South Wales, to write her bucket list and she became determined to lose weight.
She says: “Being on a theatre table and thinking you’ve died is hard enough to get over, never mind all of the other fears such as whether I would ever walk or talk again.
“I felt so lucky to feel better that I wanted to be the happiest, healthiest mum I could be and ensure I had as much time as possible with Adam and Mohamed.”
Sian stressed that the medics who looked after her did nothing wrong, and says their support was amazing and her scary experience was just “one of those things that happens”.
Once home, she joined her local Slimming World group and says she received a warm welcome from the Consultant, Julie, and her fellow slimmers.
“When you work for Slimming World it can be hard to admit you’re not perfect and need help to lose weight too. My group never made me feel ashamed though, we were all there for the same reason and everyone’s so inspiring.
“I’ve made so many friends along my journey and learned habits that I know are with me – and Adam, through me – for life.”
Even when the UK went into lockdown due to the pandemic, she didn’t let it stand in her way.
She says: “When Slimming World groups temporarily closed, I was worried it would set me back, but I knew I did not want to put my life on hold – it felt like now or never for me. My group was held virtually on Zoom instead and taking that time for myself each week was really important.”
By the time Adam was five months old, Sian had lost five stone – the weight she gained during pregnancy – following Slimming World’s Food Optimising eating plan. And now she has lost more than seven-and-a-half stone in total, dropping from a dress size 24 to a 12.
She and Mohamed started making homemade versions of their favourite takeaways, including Nando’s, and say they taste better than the real thing. So much so that her husband has lost five stone as well.
Sian, who has now been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and received treatment for the condition, has also become more active, joining a gym and enjoying walks with her family too.
The next thing she would like to tick off her bucket list is running the New York Marathon in 2023 to raise money for the Birth Trauma Association UK.
“When you gain weight you can be very critical of yourself, in a way that you would never be as critical of a friend or another member of your Slimming World group.
“The understanding and compassion I’ve received from Julie and the group has helped me to start to quieten that voice more now.
“I’m so proud of everything I’ve achieved and I’d love to be able to achieve this goal too. Having feared I might never walk again, it feels a really apt ambition and I want to prove how strong I am and to give back to a charity that has helped me so much.
“When I think back to where I was 12 months ago and how much has happened since, it’s mind-blowing – 2020 was a memorable year for everyone but I’m delighted to say it’s been life-changing for me for all the right reasons too.”
Sian’s fact file
- Height: 5ft 8.5in
- Dress size before, at nine months pregnant: 24
- Dress size after: 12
Sian’s diet before
- Breakfast: Crumpets with butter and Marmite
- Lunch: A cheese sandwich with crisps, a cookie and orange juice
- Dinner: Burger and chips
- Snacks: Cake, chocolate
Her diet now
- Breakfast: Fresh fruit salad
- Lunch: Homemade koftas made with lean mince beef, coleslaw and salad
- Dinner: Homemade cheese burgers and Slimming World-style chips (cooked in the oven in low-calorie cooking spray)
- Snacks: Low-calorie hot chocolate, low-calorie jelly and fresh fruit
You can find your nearest Slimming World group at slimmingworld.co.uk or by calling 0344 897 8000. Please contact your local Consultant to book in before your first Slimming World group and to find out how your local group is running safely in line with national and regional guidance.