Preeclampsia is a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure and signs of damage to another organ system like the kidney or liver. Preeclampsia usually starts after 20 weeks of pregnancy in first pregnancies.
Signs and Symptoms of Preeclampsia
- Excess protein in your urine
- Being a first time mom
- Changes in vision
- Severe headache and fatigue
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sudden weight gain and swelling in your face and hands
- Shortness of breath
- Decreased urine output and decreased levels of platelets in your blood.
When you have preeclampsia the new blood vessels don’t develop or function properly as it normally should. The blood vessels are more narrow than normal blood vessels and limit the amount of blood that can flow through them. The causes of narrowing can be one of the following:
- Insufficient blood flow to the uterus
- Possible damage to the blood vessels
- A compromised immune system
- Family genetics
Who is at risk for Preeclampsia?
- Women carrying multiple babies are at high risk for preeclampsia
- A personal or family history of preeclampsia significantly raises your risk of preeclampsia.
- Chronic hypertension leads to a higher risk of preeclampsia.
- First-time pregnancies.
- Age plays a major role, being under 20 or over 40 can put you at risk
- Obesity and being overweight put you at major risk
Complications caused by Preeclampsia
- Eclampsia is preeclampsia plus seizures
- Fetal growth restrictions which lead to slow growth of the baby known as fetal growth restriction, low birth weight or preterm birth
- Preterm birth can lead to breathing and other problems
HELLP syndrome which stands for hemolysis (the destruction of red blood cells), elevated liver enzymes and low platelet count
- Placental abruption can cause heavy bleeding which can be life-threatening for both you and your baby.
How to look after yourself if you have Preeclampsia
- Take your blood pressure regularly
- Check your urine for protein by getting your blood tested regularly
- Make sure you get enough fluids in and check your weight by eating healthy and the correct amounts of food
- Keep note of your babies movement. When and how often does he kick so that you know when there is a problem. If concerned let the doctor do a nonstress test on your baby
- Go for regular check-ups with your doctor possibly once a week
- If you get medication, make sure to take it as and when needed