Preeclampsia is a risk condition associated with pregnancy and labour. When you’re pregnant, it is better to understand all the risks and possible pregnancy symptoms to handle unexpected situations during labour and childbirth.
What is Pre-eclampsia?
Preeclampsia is a condition that causes reduced blood flow to the placenta; this affects the oxygen and nutrient transfer to the baby, thereby restricting the growth. This affects both the mother and the baby, if not treated at the right time. Pre-eclampsia can happen in the second half of pregnancy or short after child birth and if not treated, it can lead to eclampsia, a severe risky condition.
How is it caused?
The reason for preeclampsia is uncertain till date and it differs from one person to another. However, there are probable causes which include poor nutrition, obesity, family history, improper blood supply to the placenta etc.
Women with below health conditions are susceptible to preeclampsia:
- Expecting twins or multiple babies
- Women with diabetes, kidney diseases or arthritis
- Women having a history of preeclampsia
- Having a mother or sibling with preeclampsia
- High blood pressure before pregnancy
- Becoming pregnant after 40 years of age
What are the signs and symptoms?
Pre-eclampsia is mainly characterized by high blood pressure and presence of protein in the urine. These symptoms are difficult to trace and diagnose the medical condition. However, there are other visible symptoms to detect pre-eclampsia:
- Sudden swelling can be observed in the face, hands, feet and ankle
- Rapid weight gain caused by increased body fluid
- Severe headache, back pain, shoulder pain and pain below the ribs
- Excessive nausea and vomiting along with dizziness
- Decreased urine
- Change in vision - Blurry vision and the feel of flashing lights
- Shortness of breath and anxiety
Tips to handle preeclampsia
- Do not avoid routine prenatal tests and checkups as pre-eclampsia can be diagnosed by testing the urine for presence of protein.
- If mild symptoms of preeclampsia are detected, you need to take bed rest, either at home or hospital to avoid further complications.
- Taking prescribed medication can lower the blood pressure.
- Pregnant women will be advised to sleep on the left side to avoid pressure on the uterus.
- Frequent ultrasounds and fetal heart rate monitor to observe the baby’s health.
- If preeclampsia is moderate to severe after 37th week, the gynecologist may advise the patient to go for induced labour and c-section delivery. If it is detected in early stages, other treatment options will be suggested.
- Steroid injections will be provided to speed up the development of fetal lungs if preeclampsia is diagnosed at early stages.