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    What is Preeclampsia?

    Written on 12 July 2019

    When one is pregnant and they find that the placenta isn’t working they can develop pre-eclampsia. It can make you and your baby quite ill if you don’t receive the treatment you need. With Preeclampsia your baby may not get enough oxygen and nutrients, thus hampering its growth.

    Pre-eclampsia usually happens in the second half of pregnancy, or shortly after birth. You’re most likely to develop it after 20 weeks of pregnancy

    To understand whether one has this, there are many symptoms –

    • Severe headache.
    • Problems with vision, such as blurring or flashing before your eyes.
    • Severe pain just below your ribs.
    • Nausea or vomiting.
    • Severe heartburn and acidity
    • Sudden, severe swelling of your face, hands or feet.

    A lot of women ask when and if they are likely to develop pre-eclampsia

    You’re much more likely to develop pre-eclampsia if you:

    • Had high blood pressure in a previous pregnancy.
    • Have chronic kidney disease.
    • Have an autoimmune condition, such as lupus.
    • Have either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes.
    • Had high blood pressure before you were pregnant.

    If any of these apply to you, your doctor will recommend that you take a daily low dose of aspirin from 12 weeks of pregnancy.

    Apart from this, you’re also at risk of having pre-eclampsia if:

    • This is your first baby.
    • If you're an adolescent or over 35 years old.
    • You had a gap between pregnancies of 10 years or more.
    • You were obese before you were pregnant, with a high body mass index (BMI) at the start of your pregnancy.
    • Your sister or mum had pre-eclampsia.
    • You are expecting twins or triplets

    How to prevent preeclampsia?

    There is no real way of actually treating preeclampsia. The one thing you could do is attend all your prenatal appointments and eat medications that have been prescribed. Familiarize yourself with the symptoms, so that you can be prepared! Research has shown that calcium supplements can cut the risk of pre-eclampsia in women with low calcium diets. Your doctor will speak to you about supplements you need to stay healthy in pregnancy.

    Mild pre-eclampsia
    Mild cases of pre-eclampsia are usually treated on an out-patient (OPD) basis. Depending on the test results, you're likely to go home after the check-up. Your doctor will prescribe medication to control your blood pressure and suggest you get enough rest.

    Moderate pre-eclampsia
    Some cases of moderate pre-eclampsia may be treated on an out-patient basis. However, in some cases, your doctor may suggest you stay in the hospital for longer to be monitored.

    You’ll have your blood pressure checked at least four times a day and need to take medication to lower your blood pressure. You’ll have blood tests and you may also have ultrasound scans if you were diagnosed before 34 weeks or if your doctor is concerned about your baby.

    Severe pre-eclampsia
    You’ll need to stay in the hospital if you have severe pre-eclampsia, so you can be monitored closely. You’ll have blood pressure, urine and blood tests at least four times a day, as well as medication to control your blood pressure. Your baby will also be checked carefully. Doctors will monitor his growth and wellbeing via scans, and his heart rate will be measured.

    Your doctor's priority is to stop you from developing complications. So your fluid levels will be controlled, and you may be put on a drip that contains magnesium sulphate. Magnesium sulphate will lower your risk of developing eclampsia. Sometimes, severe pre-eclampsia can cause fits, and magnesium sulphate can help prevent that happening.

    Apart from all this, Pre-eclampsia can all lead to other complications:

    If pre-eclampsia becomes very severe, then it may lead to other complications. This means you may get more serious symptoms, and you may need to go to intensive care or a maternity high-dependency unit. It can lead to other symptoms like –

    This is a rare but serious condition that can lead to seizures or convulsions and can put both you and your baby at great risk.

    Eclampsia can develop during pregnancy and birth. It can also happen in the first few days after your baby is born, and especially if your pre-eclampsia was severe.

    HELLP syndrome
    This is a rare liver and blood-clotting disorder that can develop before pre-eclampsia has been diagnosed. HELLP stands for:

    • H: hemolysis, which means the breaking down of red blood cells.
    • EL: elevated liver enzymes, which is a sign that your liver is not working properly.
    • LP: low platelet count, which means you may not have enough platelets to allow your blood to clot.

    Other complications
    These can include:

    • liver and kidney failure
    • stroke (cerebral hemorrhage)
    • fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema)
    • blood clotting disorders

    We hope this article has provided you with enough information about this so-called problem and has helped you to understand what it is, how to prevent it, to treat it, and other complications it can lead to. As soon as you feel you’re having the symptoms, visit your doctor. Do not delay!

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