As a professional I get asked by young women all the time what is preeclampsia and how did they get it. According to the Mayo Clinic, this is how it happens.
Preeclampsia is a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure and signs of damage to another organ system, most often the liver and kidneys. Preeclampsia usually begins after 20 weeks of pregnancy in women whose blood pressure had been normal.
Left untreated, preeclampsia can lead to serious — even fatal — complications for both you and your baby. If you have preeclampsia, the most effective treatment is delivery of your baby. Even after delivering the baby, it can still take a while for you to get better.
If you’re diagnosed with preeclampsia too early in your pregnancy to deliver your baby, you and your doctor face a challenging task. Your baby needs more time to mature, but you need to avoid putting yourself or your baby at risk of serious complications.
Rarely, preeclampsia develops after delivery of a baby, a condition known as postpartum preeclampsia.
What are the symptoms?
Preeclampsia sometimes develops without any symptoms. High blood pressure may develop slowly, or it may have a sudden onset. Monitoring your blood pressure is an important part of prenatal care because the first sign of preeclampsia is commonly a rise in blood pressure. Blood pressure that exceeds 140/90 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) or greater — documented on two occasions, at least four hours apart — is abnormal.
Other signs and symptoms of preeclampsia may include:
- Excess protein in your urine (proteinuria) or additional signs of kidney problems
- Severe headaches
- Changes in vision, including temporary loss of vision, blurred vision or light sensitivity
- Upper abdominal pain, usually under your ribs on the right side
- Nausea or vomiting
- Decreased urine output
- Decreased levels of platelets in your blood (thrombocytopenia)
- Impaired liver function
- Shortness of breath, caused by fluid in your lungs
Sudden weight gain and swelling (edema) — particularly in your face and hands — may occur with preeclampsia. But these also occur in many normal pregnancies, so they’re not considered reliable signs of preeclampsia.
What are some complications?
Complications of preeclampsia may include:
- Fetal growth restriction. Preeclampsia affects the arteries carrying blood to the placenta. If the placenta doesn’t get enough blood, your baby may receive inadequate blood and oxygen and fewer nutrients. This can lead to slow growth known as fetal growth restriction, low birth weight or preterm birth.
- Preterm birth. If you have preeclampsia with severe features, you may need to be delivered early, to save the life of you and your baby. Prematurity can lead to breathing and other problems for your baby. Your health care provider will help you understand when is the ideal time for your delivery.
Can preeclampsia be prevented?
In certain cases, however, you may be able to reduce your risk of preeclampsia with:
- Low-dose aspirin. If you meet certain risk factors — including a history of preeclampsia, a multiple pregnancy, chronic high blood pressure, kidney disease, diabetes or autoimmune disease — your doctor may recommend a daily low-dose aspirin (81 milligrams) beginning after 12 weeks of pregnancy.
- Calcium supplements. In some populations, women who have calcium deficiency before pregnancy — and who don’t get enough calcium during pregnancy through their diets — might benefit from calcium supplements to prevent preeclampsia. However, it’s unlikely that women from the United States or other developed countries would have calcium deficiency to the degree that calcium supplements would benefit them.
It’s important that you don’t take any medications, vitamins or supplements without first talking to your doctor.
Our final word…………………
That’s why it is super important to take care of yourself in general, but when you find out your pregnant don’t hesitate to consult with a doctor and start prenatal appointments. As always if your not sure what to do you can always contact us at Hello@themilfordgroup.org for questions are to inquire about our pregnancy advocacy program. For more information on preeclampsia visit https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/preeclampsia/symptoms-causes/syc-20355745