Signs of Preeclampsia: The Hidden Pregnancy Condition

Expecting a new life in your life is an exciting time. You’ve talked with your mom, your friends and read all the books. But there’s one condition you may not have run across: developing preeclampsia in pregnancy. Signs of preeclampsia may vary or go unnoticed. Therefore, it is difficult to recognize in pregnancy.

What is preeclampsia?

Preeclampsia, also known as toxemia, is an increase in blood pressure that you may experience during or even after your pregnancy. The mildest form can occur even if you have normal blood pressure before you’re pregnant. Preeclampsia typically shows up 20 weeks into your pregnancy.

It’s important to know that mild preeclampsia usually doesn’t harm you or your baby. But if it goes untreated, it can result in premature birth and can put you and your baby at risk of severe complications.

Signs of Preeclampsia

Preeclampsia symptoms may include protein in the urine, sudden and rapid weight gain, and severe headaches, among others. Or, you may not experience any symptoms at all. It’s easy to mistake many of the signs of preeclampsia for the normal discomforts of pregnancy. Because of this, you should have regular checkups before, during, and after your pregnancy.

Could you be at risk?

About three to five percent of women in the United States develop preeclampsia in pregnancy. Its cause is not known, but autoimmune diseases such as lupus, blood vessel problems, diet, and your genetic makeup may put you at risk.

Your risk goes up if you:

  • Are under 18 or over 35
  • Are obese
  • Have high blood pressure before pregnancy
  • Are diabetic
  • Suffer from a kidney or an autoimmune disease

You’re also more likely to develop the condition if you experienced it during previous pregnancies. If you are already being treated for high blood pressure, be sure to talk with your doctor about the safety of any medications you are taking.

Preeclampsia Treatment

There is no cure for preeclampsia other than delivering your baby. In mild cases with babies less than 37 weeks, your doctor may recommend bed rest, drinking plenty of water, easing up on the salt, and more frequent checkups.

In severe cases, you may be admitted to the hospital to allow closer monitoring of you and your baby. You may also be given medicines to control blood pressure and avoid complications. If preeclampsia develops with your baby over 37 weeks, your doctor will likely want to proceed with delivery.

Your symptoms should go away within six weeks postpartum. But if you experience severe headaches, vision problems, or breathlessness after delivery, you should call your doctor immediately.

Talk with your OB/GYN provider about your risk for preeclampsia, or contact us at Women’s Care Florida to learn more.

Causes and Symptoms of Preeclampsia

Preeclampsia is a pregnancy health condition where the mother suffers from abnormally high blood pressure or hypertension. Many symptoms of preeclampsia go unnoticed. Hypertension can be serious during pregnancy. This is because it inhibits blood and oxygen flow to an unborn baby. Furthermore, it increases the risk of complications. Fortunately, however, you can manage preeclampsia throughout pregnancy to ensure healthy delivery and baby.

Risk factors for preeclampsia

The causes of preeclampsia involve several factors. Research suggests that blood vessels developing in the placenta don’t function properly. This contributes to preeclampsia developing. It commonly affects first-time mothers who already suffer from high blood pressure. Other common risk factors for preeclampsia include:

  • Those overweight or obese
  • History of high blood pressure
  • Aged 35 or older
  • Diabetes or kidney disease
  • Having twins or multiples
  • Family history of preeclampsia

Symptoms of preeclampsia

Common symptoms of mild preeclampsia include hypertension, fluid retention, and protein in the urine, according to the American Pregnancy Association. In severe cases, symptoms of preeclampsia include nausea, vomiting, fatigue, blurred vision, shortness of breath, and abdominal pain. Contact your OB-GYN immediately if you experience one or more of these symptoms during pregnancy.

Preeclampsia treatment

If you have preeclampsia, your OB-GYN will instruct you to go on bed rest. This will help lower your blood pressure and take your baby’s weight off your major blood vessels. Also, you’ll most likely be required to visit your OB-GYN a few times per week. In addition, during check-ups, you will have your blood pressure checked. It’s important to continually monitor blood pressure for possible pregnancy complications.

In some cases, a doctor will prescribe you one or more medications. These will help manage your blood pressure. Plus, keep in mind that high blood pressure levels can prevent your baby from getting enough food and oxygen. Relax and take it easy. Also, avoid exposing yourself to stressful situations. Extra anxiety can worsen hypertension.

Preventing preeclampsia

Since preeclampsia correlates with high blood pressure, take steps to lower it before and during pregnancy. Stop smoking, improve your nutrition, and get more sleep to lower stress levels. Find new, healthy ways to manage stress. Some of these can include:

  • Exercising
  • Meditating
  • Yoga
  • Practicing deep breathing

These activities naturally help improve hypertension.

Reduce your risk of preeclampsia by drinking more water. Additionally, reduce your intake of high-sodium foods. Salt can worsen high blood pressure.

 

The physicians at Women’s Care Florida are dedicated to you. We aim to provide the gold-star standard in women’s healthcare. Each of our Physician Care Groups has a distinctive style. In addition, our practice can be tailored to fit your individual needs. For more information about how WCF can help you take care of you, contact us to schedule an appointment.