In today’s world complication during pregnancy are not unheard of. In fact many women are at risk for some sort of complication during their pregnancy. One of the most common complications during pregnancy is preeclampsia. Preeclampsia, also know as pregnancy induces hypertension, effects between three and eight percent of all women during pregnancy. Preeclampsia affects the health of the mother and the baby. Preeclampsia is usually diagnosed in the second trimester of the women’s pregnancy, more commonly after 32 weeks, but may be diagnosed as early as 20 weeks. There is no one way to diagnose preeclampsia. The doctor will monitor the mother for symptoms associated with preeclampsia including an increase in blood pressure, proteinuria (which is an increase in protein in the urine), increase in liver function test, thrombocytopenia, (low platelet count), swelling of the upper body, and weight gain. Some swelling and weight gain during pregnancy is normal, but a large amount of swelling and weight gain the doctor will question. Other common symptoms for preeclampsia include severe headaches, decrease in urine out put, vision changes. Upper abdominal pain is another common symptom associated with preeclampsia. These signs and symptoms accompanied by nausea, vomiting and dizziness should be reported to you physician.
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Women who have certain preexisting health condition like diabetes, hypertension, obesity and kidney disease before their pregnancy are at a higher risk for developing preeclampsia. First time mothers along with African American, teen and women over forty are at a greater risk for developing preeclampsia. Women with a family history of preeclampsia tend to have a higher risk for preeclampsia. If you were diagnoses with preeclampsia in a previous pregnancy your risk are higher. Having a multiple pregnancy, for example twins, increases your risk for developing preeclampsia. On the other hand women who have been pregnant more than once tend to have a lower risk except in those with a family history.
Complications may occur after the onset of preeclampsia. One common complication is the shunting of blood to the placenta, preventing the placenta from getting the proper amount of blood. The decrease in blood flow to the placenta keeps the fetus, your baby, from getting enough oxygen and food required for healthy development. This can result in low birth weights and other complications for your baby including death. Placenta abortion is another complication commonly associated with preeclampsia. This is where the placenta pulls away from the uterine wall causing heavy bleeding. Placenta abortion can cause fetal distress. Placenta abortion is life threatening for the mother and the baby. HELLP Syndrome may also develop. HELLP Syndrome stands for the symptoms that are involved; Hemolytic anemia, Elevated Liver enzymes, and Low Platelet count. HELLP Syndrome in many cases has already developed before the mother is diagnosed with preeclampsia. This is one reason early and continuous prenatal care is important. Another major complication of preeclampsia is eclampsia which is the development of seizures during preeclampsia. Eclampsia can cause permanent damage to the internal organs of the mother. If no intervention are taken to resolve preeclampsia the mother may end up having brain damage or end up in a coma or even may end in death for the mother and the baby.
The only known treatment for preeclampsia is abortion of the pregnancy if the pregnancy hasn’t reached the period of viability or delivery of the mature fetus. Even if the fetus has reached the period of viability the baby may experience complications due to being premature. In order to prevent this doctors have found ways to help manage preeclampsia allowing the fetus more time to mature in the womb. Methods to manage preeclampsia include lowering the blood pressure. The physician may recommend that the mother reduce the amount of salt intake in her diet. While resting it is recommended that the mother lie on her left side to reduce the workload of the heart. Another method used to manage preeclampsia is to take aspirin and a calcium supplement as ordered by your physician. Since there is now way to prevent preeclampsia it is important to seek early and regular prenatal care. If preeclampsia is detected early, you and your doctor can work together to prevent complications and make the best choices for you and your baby.
During my friend Jessica’s pregnancy the doctors were concerned she had a few predisposing risk factors for preeclampsia including obesity and diabetes before her pregnancy. The doctors were concerned and monitored Jessica very carefully during her pregnancy. Without fail Jessica was diagnosed with preeclampsia at thirty weeks into her pregnancy. She developed the classical signs of preeclampsia including high blood pressure with proteinuria accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and blurred vision. Jessica was worried about the health of her baby. She changed her diet to a reduced sodium diet, and other little things to reduce recommended by her doctor to help her blood pressure. Even after attempts were made to lower Jessica’s blood pressure it continued to show an increase in pressure. At thirty-six weeks doctor decided to have the best out come for her and the baby they were going to induce her labor. Lucky for Jessica she received the appropriate prenatal care the doctor was able to monitor her for preeclampsia.