Pregnancy poses a lot of possible complications and risks, sometimes despite efforts to stay healthy. One of these is preeclampsia, a condition that develops after Week 20 of pregnancy. If not monitored properly, it can cause serious problems for you and your baby so make sure to have yourself checked for any risk.
Here’s everything you need to know about preeclampsia:
What are the symptoms of preeclampsia
While preeclampsia shares symptoms similar to pregnancy such as abdominal pain, vomiting, dizziness, and severe headaches, unique symptoms of the condition includes:
- High blood pressure
- Oedema or swelling of your hands and feet
- Presence of protein in your urine
- Visual disturbances
- Shortness of breath
- Decreased urination
Who are most likely to have it
Women who had preeclampsia are more likely to have it again. Approximately five to eight percent of women are diagnosed with pre-eclampsia and those who’ve had it are more likely to be at risk of having it again. Other risk factors include:
- You have hypertension and diabetes
- You have a family history of having preeclampsia
- It’s your first pregnancy
- You got pregnant at a later age, usually 35 years or above
- You are overweight
- You have chronic kidney disease
How to diagnose and prevent preeclampsia
Blood tests are necessary to diagnose preeclampsia and will include liver and kidney functions tests as well as platelet count. Your doctor will also run a urine test to see if there’s presence of protein in your sample. In some cases, foetal ultrasound and non stress test are administered to closely monitor your baby.
Aside from knowing your risk factors, religiously attending your prenatal appointments is key to monitor any symptom related to the condition. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle will also help. This includes eating healthy food, working out regularly, avoiding stress, and taking supplements as prescribed by your doctor.
How does preeclampsia affect your baby
Preeclampsia may affect your baby’s growth and may cause low amniotic fluid. If left untreated, it may lead to infant death. For mums-to-be who have to deliver their babies earlier, issues for preterm birth also apply. These may include impaired foetal growth or some long-term health issues such as deafness, blindness, and learning disorders.
How is preeclampsia treated
Expect your doctor to monitor you more closely if you’re diagnosed with preeclampsia. There will be more frequent blood tests to check your kidney and liver functions and to avoid more complications. If it gets worse, you might have to deliver the baby earlier. For more severe cases, your doctor will inject you with magnesium sulphate and give you anti-hypertensive medications to control the high blood pressure.