WHAT IS PRE-ECLAMPSIA
I had heard so many stories about all the things that could go wrong during pregnancy but I had never seen any of them actually happening. This gave me a little more confidence in myself and I had faith that everything would be just fine. After all, I didn’t want to attract any negative energy my way.
My pregnancy seemed very fine and normal and this boosted my confidence even further. I was able to enjoy the beginning of my pregnancy (that is at least after I got used to the morning sickness). My regular prenatal check-ups were nothing serious either. I got a tetanus shot at some point and it really did hurt but the rest was simple and straightforward.
I was sailing through smoothly until one day when my doctor was appalled at the readings for my blood pressure. It was higher than normal and considering that I was pregnant that was not a good sign at all. She asked me for a urine sample and I couldn’t for the life of me understand what the correlation was but I obliged. She then dropped a bombshell when the results came back. I had preeclampsia.
Preeclampsia is a condition that is indicated by the presence of protein in urine and increased blood pressure. A certain amount of protein is usually present in urine but this is usually exceeded in preeclampsia.
How it occurs
Blood vessels get constricted and this is what causes the high blood pressure. This also reduces the amount of blood flowing meaning that organs like the brain, liver and kidney get affected and the unborn baby’s development will be hampered. Amniotic fluid may reduce and the placenta may even detach from the uterus before delivery (placental abruption). Altered blood vessels may cause leakage of fluid from the capillaries into body tissues and this leads to swelling or edema. When blood vessels in the kidney leak they cause the protein in the bloodstream to spill into urine.
You may experience severe headaches, swelling in your hands, face, ankles and feet because of the fluid leakage and retention, some pain below the ribs and vision problems like being affected by bright light and seeing bright spots.
Who is at risk?
This condition occurs in about 5 percent of all pregnant women but only 1 or 2 percent become severe cases. It usually occurs after the 20th week but it may be caught even during labor. Predisposing factors include:
- If you are pregnant for the first time
- If your family has a history of preeclampsia
- If it occurred during a previous pregnancy
- If you are above 40 years of age
- If you are carrying more than one child like twins or triplets
I was having my first child and two of my sisters had had preeclampsia so I think that qualified me. It was pretty scary especially since apparently there is no medication you can take to cure it completely. The only cure is giving birth but it was too early for me and thus began the constant monitoring.
I was a little more at ease since the doctor was constantly reassuring me and making sure that I didn’t get overwhelmed. When the time was right I was given some medication to lower my blood pressure and delivery began. I went for a caesarean section but you can also get induced. Delivery of the baby is usually done at 37 weeks but if it is very severe it may have to come earlier to avoid damage to internal organs and impairment of the baby’s growth.
I am really glad that the doctor caught it early enough and I can now enjoy motherhood. You should ask your doctor if you have any concerns so as to avoid it getting severe.