Hello friends! Today we are talking about Preeclampsia. I have had several mamma’s in the past ask me questions about it. I had preeclampsia with both of my boys so I definitely know a thing or two about it!
Disclaimer: I am not a physician. I cannot diagnose medical conditions. If you are experiencing any symptoms discussed today you should call your doctor and seek medical treatment. I cannot be held accountable for any decisions that you make based on this article.
What is it?
Preeclampsia is a medical complication that surfaces during pregnancy characterized by high blood pressure, proteinuria (protein in urine), and excessive swelling in the hands, feet, and face. Let’s break it down a little further.
Protein doesn’t usually filter out through our kidneys. It is too large of a particle. However, the high blood pressure causes damage to your kidney’s resulting in protein leaking through into your urine. But don’t worry, the kidney damage typically resolves itself once your preeclampsia clears up.
There are several factors involved that cause preeclampsia. It is believed to originate in the placenta and how the vessels to the placenta develop. The placenta is the organ that will nourish your growing baby. In the early stages of pregnancy, your body will create new vessels that send blood to the placenta.
In preeclampsia, these vessels may be too narrow to function properly. This limits the amount of blood that can flow through them and to your placenta.
Genetics also play a role in preeclampsia. If it is known to run in your family, you are at an increased risk of developing it yourself during your pregnancy. For me, my mom had preeclampsia as well, putting me in a direct heritage to it.
Signs and Symptoms
We already discussed the definitive signs and symptoms of preeclampsia, but what are some other symptoms that could mean you are developing the complication?
- Headaches– frequent or severe headaches could indicate high blood pressure. It is important to drink plenty of water and lay down and rest. If the headaches proceed, call your doctor.
- Vision Changes– this includes loss of vision, blurred vision, or sensitivity to light. This can be severe and is usually paired with a headache. You need to call your physician immediately and check your blood pressure if you have a machine readily available. Your physician may want you to come into the office or to the hospital for serial blood pressure checks. (serial meaning checking it consistently at set intervals over a period of time, example: every 15 minutes.)
- Upper Abdomen Pain– typically in the right upper abdomen
- Decreased Urine Output– this usually develops as the kidneys are affected.
- Nausea or Vomiting
- Shortness of Breath– caused by fluid in the lungs
It is important to tell your doctor about any symptoms that you develop during pregnancy. And if severe enough call your doctor right away.
Preeclampsia usually develops after week 20 of pregnancy. The main cure of preeclampsia is the delivery of the baby. In rare cases will you develop preeclampsia postpartum. This is known as postpartum preeclampsia.
Severity of Preeclampsia
Preeclampsia can range from mild to severe. It could cause severe, at times fatal, conditions for both you and your baby if left untreated. That is why it is important to talk with your doctor right away if you develop any symptoms.
If you develop preeclampsia later in your pregnancy, you may have to be induced. Your doctor will run lab work and perform serial blood pressures on you, if that is the main problem, and if your labs are abnormal it may be best to induce. Preeclampsia will only get worse the longer that you are pregnant, and unfortunately, that may cause it to affect the baby as well. I know that it is heartbreaking to have to change your birth plan, but ultimately your health and the health of the baby is the top priority.
If you are diagnosed too early in your pregnancy to deliver the baby, your doctor may order you to be on bed rest. This is what is best for both you and your baby. Bedrest will help to reduce your blood pressure to decrease your chances of any further complications. Which leads to our next complication.
It is called “pre” for a reason. Eclampsia is essentially preeclampsia, but now with seizures. This can be VERY dangerous for both mom and baby. Seizures can cut off oxygen to mom or to the baby resulting in serious problems, even death.
Although researchers continue to study preeclampsia, no definitive prevention methods have been found. However, there are a couple ways that you may reduce your risk.
Low-dose aspirin- if you have certain risk factors for preeclampsia, such as having it in a previous pregnancy, chronic high blood pressure, etc. your doctor may suggest taking 81 mg aspirin. If it appears to be a good fit for you, you will begin taking this after week 12 of pregnancy. This was something that my doctor and I agreed on trying during my second pregnancy.
Calcium Supplements- It is thought, that in some populations of women with preexisting calcium deficiency, or not getting enough calcium during pregnancy, that calcium supplements may be beneficial. However, calcium deficiency is not as common in the United States and other developed countries.
Preeclampsia is a very serious complication that develops during pregnancy. It should be monitored very closely to protect both mom and baby.
With this in mind, know that this article is not to scare you, it is to inform you. Information is power. And being well informed about a complication that many women develop, will allow you and your doctor to detect symptoms early on to prevent you from developing further complications.
Reminder that I am not a physician and if you are experiencing any symptoms or have any concerns you should consult your physician. I cannot diagnose any medical conditions. Please do not self-diagnose or self-treat! Consult your doctor before taking any medications or supplements if you are pregnant. They could be harmful to baby!
I hope y’all found this helpful and informative! If you have any questions or if you suffered from preeclampsia leave a comment down below!
About The Author
Gabrielle, is the founder of Mommy Nursey. She is a wife and mommy to two wonderful little boys! Kyson is 2 years old and all boy. Kieran is 7 a month old thinker and observer. She and her husband, Kenshay have been married going on 3 years this August. In addition to being a full-time mommy, she is also a full-time RN. She works in Peri-operative services at her local hospital. All while chasing her new dream of being an aspiring Mommy | Lifestyle blogger!