The Vegan Doctor Tells You What to Look Out For & What You Need to Know
Mild cases are quite common, occurring in 1 in 10 pregnancies, whereas severe preeclampsia occurs in 1 in 50 pregnancies. The main concern with preeclampsia is raised blood pressure ( hypertension), but it occurs in association with protein in the urine ( proteinuria), and swelling of the hands and feet ( edema).
However, hypertension isn' t always caused by preeclampsia; blood pressure can be elevated before conception, increasing the risk of hypertension- related illness during pregnancy. In addition, there is pregnancy-induced hypertension( PIH), which is raised blood pressure starting during pregnancy,
and occurs without the complications of proteinuria or edema.
Although it is treatable, the reason doctors worry about preeclampsia is because of the complications it causes, which, unfortunately, are often serious. They include brain hemorrhage, blindness, liver and kidney failure, fluid in the lungs, and even death of mother or baby. Untreated preeclampsia can also lead to eclampsia, which is the occurrence of seizures due to pregnancy induced hypertension. Eclampsia is rare and only develops in around 1 in 3500 cases of preeclampsia.
There are several risk factors that an obstetric team will look out for including previous diagnosis of raised blood pressure - in pregnancy or otherwise, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and some autoimmune diseases such as lupus and antiphospholipid syndrome. Other factors that can increase the risk of getting preeclampsia include: • Over 40 years of age
• First time giving birth
• 10 years or more between
• BMI of over 30kg/ m ²
• Multiple pregnancy ( twins or more) Preeclampsia can be completely asymptomatic, which is why antenatal appointments and screening are so important. However, possible signs of preeclampsia t hat an expectant mother can look for include headache, visual disturbances, vomiting, stomach pains, unexpected and sudden weight gain, and swelling of the hands, feet or face. If any of these symptoms occur, the mother should see her obstetric team immediately to be assessed for preeclampsia. However, every antenatal appointment will include checks to make sure she has not developed this condition. These include blood pressure measurements and a urine dipstick test for protein.
Once preeclampsia is diagnosed, measures will be taken to get mom's blood pressure down and she may be given antihypertensives t hat are safe for use during pregnancy. It is likely that mom will be admitted to the hospital for further tests while her raised blood pressure is being treated.
If mom becomes more unwell, or if t he hypertension is uncontrollable, the obstetric team will discuss the possibility of delivering the baby early in order to keep both mom and baby safe, however, this is usually avoided as much as possible until 34 weeks of gestation.
After delivery, both mom and baby will be closely monitored, and although mom's blood pressure will eventually return to normal, it can take a little time, so antihypertensives will likely be continued for several weeks. Mom will also have a more thorough postnatal check up to make sure that everything is getting back to normal. Attending all cl i nic appointments is extremely important so t hat your health and the health of your unborn baby can be monitored. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of preeclampsia, please tell your midwife or obstetrician immediately so that investigation and management can be arranged as soon as possible.