What to expect at the hospital if you have pre-eclampsia

When childbirth doesn't go as planned.

Like every expecting mother, I had a birth plan that included soft music, dimmed lights, and NO unnecessary medical interventions. I was the mom that wanted to go through childbirth as naturally as possible with the use of hypnotherapy, massage, and a birthing ball. I had my hospital bag packed weeks in advance, taken a community college course of hypnotherapy, and attended all the childbirth classes available at our hospital. I like to be well prepared.

What I wasn't expecting was to be diagnosed with pre-eclampsia at my 40 week check-up. This threw me in for a loop that turned out to be the most traumatic experience of my life. In this article I will share with you what pre-eclampsia is and how it is treated in the hospital. Of course you must keep in mind this is my personal experience and may not reflect how others may experience it.

What is pre-eclampsia?

Pre-eclampsia is basically high blood pressure in pregnant women that develops halfway through the pregnancy. There are no known causes of pre-eclampsia but some potential factors are diet, genes, blood vessel issues, first pregnancy, multiples, obesity, and being over the age of 35.

What are the complications of pre-eclampsia?

The greatest fear is for the mom to go into seizures during labor and losing a significant amount of blood. Other concerns include stroke and pre-mature detachment of the placenta.

How do they screen for pre-eclampsia?

At every pre-natal check-up your practitioner will take your blood pressure and urine sample. If your blood pressure is abnormally high and you have protein in your urine sample you may have pregnancy induced hypertension (pre-eclampsia). All of my checkups prior to my 40th week were normal so it was a surprise that I was sent immediately to the hospital during my final prenatal screening. I didn't notice anything different in my health except that I had gain a lot of weight in my last two weeks of pregnancy. My ankles and hands were swelling too.

How is pre-eclampsia treated?

The only way to treat preeclampsia is to deliver the baby. I was told I would be induced and I had no choice. I couldn't even go home to pick up my hospital bag! It was exciting that I'd have my baby soon but scary that I would have to start with medical procedures to induce the labor instead of naturally letting my body initiate the event.

While being induced I was required to have an IV bag that provided magnesium which lowers my risk of seizures. The challenge with this is that it relaxed my body which is the opposite of what you would want for a mom gearing up for delivery. This may have prolonged my labor. During the labor I also received additional medical interventions including the epidural and pitocin. After 16 hours my doctor kept advising for me to get a C-section but I was adamant not to have one, especially since my baby and I were not in distress. Ultimately, the baby was delivered normally with a vacuum suction.

In the 24 hours after delivering the baby, I was still under watch for eclampsia. I continued the magnesium drip and had a blood test every 6 hours. Additionally, every hour a nurse would come in to check my reflexes and take my blood pressure. This meant no rest right after delivery.

In the end I delivered a happy healthy 7.13lbs baby. Although the birthing experience was a traumatic one, I survived it.