What is preeclampsia?
Preeclampsia is a condition that is detected when the expecting mother’s blood pressure rises beyond what is considered the normal range. Another indicator is a high level of protein in the urine sample of the expecting mother. This condition tends to appear in or after the twentieth week of pregnancy but is more commonly detected in the last few weeks of pregnancy. Sometimes it is also possible to get this condition post delivery as well. Some of the other symptoms that indicate this condition include, headaches, abdominal painand shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting, confusion among a few others.
It is possible to still deliver a healthy baby despite the condition and also recover soon after, however, in a few cases the condition can cause severe complications that can even be fatal in nature.
How do I know if I have preeclampsia?
There are no set conditions that can help determine that an expecting mother will have pre-eclampsia. In case you have had the condition in your previous pregnancies then chances are that you are likely to get it again. However, if this is your first pregnancy then there are certain signs and symptoms that you need to watch out for.
1. Sudden puffiness in the face or hands and feet (especially around the ankles)
2. Sudden weight gain in excess of 7 kilos in a week
3. Severe and continual headache
4. Changes in vision including blurring or double visions or having extreme light sensitivity
5. Pain or tenderness in your upper abdomen
6. Nausea and vomiting
How is preeclampsia treated?
The treatment recommended by your doctor will depend on many factors including how far along in the pregnancy you are and your age and health during the pregnancy. If the doctor does assess you with the condition then he/she will monitor your blood pressure regularly and will also conduct regular tests that determine your liver and kidney functions.
The doctor will also monitor the foetus health and growth more closely to determine of the pregnancy is going smoothly despite the health condition. The expecting mother may also be put on some medications to manage preeclampsia or hypertension in case of very high blood pressure.
If the pregnancy is beyond 37 weeks when the condition is detected, the doctor will prefer to deliver the baby and not complete the full term to ensure the safety of both the baby and the mother.
Who is at risk for getting preeclampsia?
Preeclampsia occurs among 5% of all pregnant women and there no known causes for its occurrence. However it is more likely to occur in certain cases such as:
1. Having the condition in a previous pregnancy
2. Multiple foetus pregnancy (twins or triplets for example)
3. History of blood pressure, diabetes or a kidney disease
4. Obesity (BMI over 30)
5. Having a late pregnancy or even a very young pregnancy
6. IVF pregnancy
7. Previous autoimmune diseases
How does preeclampsia affect pregnancy?
Preeclampsia is an unpredictable condition that can be detected unexpectedly during a routine blood pressure check and urine test, which will be monitored in any case periodically during your pregnancy. In case this condition is discovered then the doctor will prefer to opt for a planned delivery for your baby in case you have already completed 37 weeks of pregnancy and the baby is fully developed.
In case it is detected earlier in the pregnancy, the expecting mother will be advised to take bed rest and medication to manage the condition and keep the blood pressure under control, helping the baby reach full term before the delivery can be planned. In some cases where medication and rest is not effective the treatment may change depending on the risk factors involved for both the baby and the mother.