What Is Pre-eclampsia And How Will It Affect The Baby?

It is a sudden surge of high blood pressure even if there was no previous history of high blood pressure during or before the pregnancy.

Pre-eclampsia is a condition that affects pregnant women. It is a sudden surge of high blood pressure even if there was no previous history of high blood pressure during or before the pregnancy. You may have heard it being referred to as “toxemia” which is its previous title.

This condition is usually diagnosed during the later stages of pregnancy. The first symptom is often high levels of protein in the woman’s urine sample. It may then be followed by swelling in the hands, legs and feet. The condition can be serious if it goes untreated and in rare cases, it can lead to the woman experiencing seizures.
The only cure for pre-eclampsia is to deliver the baby as the high blood pressure is a direct result of the pregnancy. The mother and baby’s health is at risk when this condition is present. After the birth, the symptoms may continue for several weeks and will be monitored closely by your care team.

The best way to be proactive about this condition is to attend all your scheduled prenatal and antenatal appointments with your care team. Testing your urine sample and checking your blood pressure are standard procedures during these visits and this is how the first symptoms are detected.

When a woman has pre-eclampsia her placenta may not be functioning properly. The exact cause is not known but certain research points at dietary factors as well as having high levels of body fat. There is also some research that shows a genetic link. A woman may be more likely to contract the condition if her mother or sister has a history of high blood pressure, obesity or has experienced pre-eclampsia in a previous pregnancy.

The visible symptoms of pre-eclampsia are usually swelling. The swelling is often very sudden and obvious to those around you. A certain amount of swelling in pregnancy is completely normal but this swelling will be more severe and out of the blue. If this swelling is accompanied by a routine high blood pressure reading then your care team will begin to consider that the condition may be present. Other symptoms can include headaches, blurry vision and a tendency to urinate much less than is typically normal for you.

The greatest danger with this condition is the functioning of the placenta. An insufficient blood supply can result in your baby being born quite small. It can also lead to premature birth which is accompanied by many risks and complications for the baby who may not be fully developed and ready for the outside world. Advancements in medicine and premature care mean that even babies born premature stand a good chance of a normal healthy life. Complications for the mother can include a risk of stroke or heavy bleeding after she has given birth.

In some cases, the pre-eclampsia may be borderline or considered to be quite mild. In this case, there is a possibility that your doctor will suggest bed rest and a medicine which aims to lower your blood pressure. Regular blood tests, urine samples and blood pressure checks will ensure that the condition is monitored. This is particularly common when a woman is at a gestation that is earlier than thirty-seven weeks of pregnancy.

Tracey is a happy mammy to four-year-old Billy. She is a breastfeeder, gentle parent and has recently lost five stone so healthy family eating is her passion! You can find her at www.loveofliving.ie.

Tracey Quinn

Proud mum of two who got married on Don't Tell The Bride and had an accidental home-birth (loves a good story). She's passionate about breastfeeding, positive thinking & all things cosy.

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