Everyone hopes for a smooth pregnancy, so it can be worrying and scary to hear that you have developed a condition such as preeclampsia, which is characterized by high blood pressure. On the positive side, preeclampsia can be treated, especially if caught early.
So it's important to watch out for any of the symptoms, including high blood pressure, protein in the urine, and sudden weight gain. While there is no cure, medication may be given to manage the condition. If you're wondering how to navigate this often tricky condition, keep reading for 10 things you didn't know about preeclampsia during pregnancy.
10 You Can't Prevent It
When it comes to preeclampsia, unfortunately there is no way to prevent it. It isn't known why the condition develops. However, there are things you can do to lower your risk. For example, if you have a family history of preeclampsia, you should mention this to your doctor and they will likely monitor you more closely throughout your pregnancy. It's important to keep in mind the other risk factors for preeclampsia, including multiple pregnancy, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
9 It Can Be Treated
While it's impossible to prevent, preeclampsia can be treated. Once you are diagnosed with preeclampsia, your doctor will advise you on how to help manage the condition. This may include bed rest, medication, or even hospitalization. A mild case is usually treated with home bed rest and regular blood pressure monitoring. You may need to see your doctor more frequently to get blood pressure testing and check how your baby is doing. If preeclampsia becomes more severe, labour may be induced to protect the health of the mother and baby.
8 There Can Be Many Symptoms
It's important to watch out for symptoms early in pregnancy that could possibly indicate preeclampsia. There are the more obvious symptoms like high blood pressure, but there are some symptoms that could be overlooked, but are actually signs of preeclampsia. For example, headaches, sudden weight gain - more than two pounds a week, swelling, and pain in the abdomen can all be symptoms.
7 It Can Occur After The Baby Is Born
A little known fact about preeclampsia is that it can develop after the baby's birth. Given that the only cure for preeclampsia is birth, it's common for women to assume that once your baby is born, you don't have to worry about developing it.
Because of this risk, it's important for new moms to continue to get their blood pressure checked after the birth of their baby.
6 It Affects The Mother And The Child
Another fact about preeclampsia that you may not be aware of is that if affects both the mom and the baby. When a mother develops preeclampsia, there is a lot of monitoring of her blood pressure and general health, but doctors will also monitor the status of the baby because preeclampsia can affect the baby as well. The condition can change the blood flow to the placenta, resulting in low birth weight or premature birth. This is why it's important to be mindful of visiting your doctor during your pregnancy.
5 There Are Sometimes No Apparent Symptoms
A fact about preeclampsia that may be overlooked is that if you have a mild case, you may have no symptoms at all. Some women experience symptoms such as weight gain, headaches, vision problems and pain in the abdomen. But for mild cases, there are often no symptoms at all. This is why it's important to get regular blood pressure testing throughout pregnancy, and to be aware of any unusual symptoms and mention them to your doctor.
4 Age Is A Factor
When it comes to preeclampsia, age plays a factor in determining whether you are more likely to develop it. Preeclampsia is more common in very young women and women older than the age of thirty-five.
If you are a pregnant woman in either of those age groups, it's important to be aware that you're more at risk, and to make sure you watch out for the signs and symptoms. Being prepared if half the battle when it comes to a treatment plan.
3 More Likely In A First Pregnancy
Preeclampsia tends to be more common in first pregnancies. However, just because you've been pregnant before does not remove the risk of developing it. Risk factors such as carrying two or more fetuses, diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney disease, and family history can also play a part in determining a mother's likelihood of developing preeclampsia. If you possess any of these risk factors, all it means is you should be mindful when you go for a check-up during your pregnancy.
2 It's More Common Than You Think
Preeclampsia is much more common than you may think. According to preeclampsia.org, preeclampsia affects 5 to 8 percent of pregnancies, which means more than 6.6 million women worldwide are affected by the condition. In the US, preeclampsia is responsible for 18% of maternal deaths, and 15% of premature births in industrialized countries. It is the number one reason doctors decide to deliver a baby prematurely. While these statistics might scare you, it should be comforting to know that the condition is not one alien to most doctors, and they will know the signs and a treatment plan almost immediately.
1 It Used To Go By A Different Name
Preeclampsia actually used to go by a different name: toxemia. It was called this because it was once thought to be caused by a toxin present in a pregnant woman's bloodstream. We now know that it isn't caused by a toxin, but the exact cause is unfortunately still unknown. If you're suffering from, or worried you may be diagnosed with preeclampsia, fear not. Under the direction of your healthcare provider, this condition can be managed and there's a good chance your pregnancy will go smoothly.