What is Preeclampsia?
Preeclampsia is a condition that occurs only during pregnancy. It is marked by an increased blood pressure and high levels of protein found in the urine. While it is a common belief that preeclampsia only occurs after the 20th week of pregnancy, this is not so. In fact, preeclampsia can occur during anytime during pregnancy.
What Puts You At Risk Of Developing Preeclampsia?
Â· A History of Preeclampsia â€“ A history of preeclampsia in prior pregnancy or if your mother, grandmother(s) or sister(s) have been diagnosed with preeclampsia, you too are at a greater risk of developing preeclampsia.
Â· First Pregnancy â€“ Although the cause is not known, first time pregnancies carry a higher risk of preeclampsia than subsequent pregnancies.
Â· First Pregnancy with a New Partner â€“ A first pregnancy with a new partner carries the same risk as a first time pregnancy; even if all previous pregnancies with a different partner have went normally.
Â· Obesity â€“ Obesity is marked by having a BMI of 30% or higher. If you are obese, the chances of your developing preeclampsia are much higher than that of a woman who is within a normal weight range.
Â· Multiple Gestation â€“ Carrying two of more fetuses elevates a woman's risks of developing preeclampsia.
Â· Age â€“ If you are under the age of 18 or over the age of 40, the risk of developing preeclampsia is elevated.
Â· Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome â€“ Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome or PCOS is a condition that affects the fertility of many women. Sufferers of PCOS have small cysts on their ovaries. Women who have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome have a much greater occurrence of preeclampsia than those who do not have this condition.
Â· Autoimmune Disorders â€“ Autoimmune disorders; such as rheumatoid arthritis, Lupus and MS (Multiple Sclerosis) also increase a woman's chances of developing preeclampsia.
Â· High Blood Pressure â€“ Women who have high blood pressure or a history of high blood pressure prior to becoming pregnancy are far more likely to develop preeclampsia than women whose blood pressure is within the normal range.
What Are The Symptoms of Preeclampsia?
Â· Hypertension â€“ High blood pressure is one of the key indicators of a problem during pregnancy. Even a slightly elevated blood pressure should be taken seriously as preeclampsia can come on slowly and then progress into a dangerous stage.
Â· Headaches â€“ Most women who suffer with preeclampsia report headaches that refuse to subside or that are very frequent.
Â· Changes in Vision â€“ A change if your normal vision is another key indicator that preeclampsia may be present. The changes in vision caused by preeclampsia can vary greatly between slightly blurred vision, seeing spots or flashes of light, an aversion or sensitivity to light that may or may not resemble a migraine headache and on the extreme side, complete temporary loss of vision.
Â· Becoming dizzy â€“ Many pregnant women who are affected by preeclampsia report having episodes of feeling dizzy or faint.
Â· Abdominal Pain â€“ Abdominal pain located underneath the ribs on your right side is often a symptom of preeclampsia.
Â· Urinating Less â€“ During pregnancy, it's expected that women urinate more often due to the weight of the baby placing pressure upon the bladder. When that amount of urine is lessened; especially if there is a dramatic change, this could be an indication of preeclampsia. This is a symptom of preeclampsia that is sometimes difficult for women to recognize as frequent bathroom trips may still be occurring; even when the actual quantity of urine is much less than normal.
Â· Protein in Urine â€“ Proteinuria; or excessive amounts of protein in the urine is the main indicator to your doctor or gynecologist that a patient is suffering from preeclampsia.
Â· Edema â€“ Edema or swelling has long been associated with pregnancy. While some swelling is normal, excessive swelling is not. Any swelling that does not go away relatively quickly with rest may indicate preeclampsia. Edema in the face and hands should be paid special attention to.
Â· Weight Gain â€“ Weight gain is expected in all pregnancies; however, if weight gain is rapid there is an issue. Preeclampsia usually causes edema (or swelling) that leads to some weight gain. Excessive weight gain that occurs over a few days is very serious.
What You Should Do If You Suspect You Have Preeclampsia?
Headaches, body aches, weight gain, swelling, nausea and changes in your bathroom routine are common during pregnancy. This makes detecting a potentially dangerous condition difficult.
To a woman who is pregnant for the first time, these ailments or symptoms may not raise any red flags or a woman may feel embarrassed to complain too often to her family, friends and doctor.
If you experience any of the mentioned symptoms, please, contact your doctor immediately.
Waiting for a scheduled appointment could cause lasting and irreversible damage to both mother and unborn child. In some instances, death of either or both mother and child can occur.
Preeclampsia resulting in death for the mother specifically is usually due to an elevation in blood pressure that causes a stroke or a placental abruption.
Placental abruption is also very deadly for a fetus or unborn child.
Placental abruption can occur with preeclampsia. This is a condition in which the placenta has separated from the uterus of the mother. Without this connection to the mother, the baby is unable to survive.
Considered an absolute obstetric catastrophe; complete separation, will almost always result in death of the unborn child. Placental abruption occurs quickly and the only real indicators are severe pain in the abdomen, enlarged uterus and bleeding. Because of the likely outcome of a placental abruption it is an urgent matter for preeclampsia to be properly treated before the conditions progresses beyond the ability to be controlled medically.
Empty Arms as a Result of Preeclampsia:
On a personal level, I have survived preeclampsia. However, my daughter did not. Due to the negligence of my gynecologist I was not treated properly and nearly died myself.
After a decade of trying to conceive and failed attempts at infertility my husband and I did manage to conceive. This was quite a thrilling time in our lives - My husband was just home from his double tour in Iraq and we were going to be parents!
That overwhelming happiness became overwhelming grief. Three days of intense labor knowing the child you will deliver is dead, over thirty IVs, a minimal of 12 blood transfussions and family being asked to say their good-byes to not only our baby, but to that baby's mother - me.
Still worse, after those three days of labor my hopes of at least holding my child who held all my dreams were crushed when my conditione worsened to a point that labor had to be stopped and a D&E was performed in the last attempt to save my life.
I hope this information will help parents detect and demand proper treatment for preeclampsia. Again, if you show any of the mentioned signs demand treatment so that you too do not have to leave the hospital with empty arms.