What Is Preeclampsia?
Preeclampsia is a pregnancy disorder in which blood stress and inflammation suddenly increase, mostly in the neck, fingers, and legs.
It is often prevented by gestational hypertension. Although high blood pressure does not necessarily indicate preeclampsia during pregnancy, it may be a sign of another problem. At least 5-8 percent of pregnancies are affected by preeclampsia.
It generally develops during the third trimester. If the preeclampsia remains untreated, it may develop into eclampsia, where the mother may experience seizures, coma, and even die. However, when the mother attends her prenatal appointments, complications from preeclampsia are extremely rare.
Who Is Vulnerable To Preeclampsia?
The following may increase the risk of preeclampsia development:
- A mother for the first time
- Previous experience with preeclampsia or gestational hypertension
- Women whose siblings and mothers had preeclampsia
- Multiple babies carrying women
- Women under 20 years old and women over 40 years old
- Females with hypertension or kidney disease before pregnancy
- Women with obesity or a BMI of 30 or more
Initially, there may be no symptoms of preeclampsia; however, early signs include:
- high blood pressure (hypertension)
- protein in the urine (proteinuria)
In the majority of cases, the woman will not be aware of these two signs, and will only find out when a doctor observes her during an antenatal visit.
Although 6 to 8 percent of all pregnant women experience high blood pressure, it does not necessarily mean they have preeclampsia. The most telling sign is the presence of protein in the urine.
As the preeclampsia advances, the female may encounter fluid retention (edema), inflammation in her fingers, legs, wrists, and neck.
Swelling, particularly during the third trimester, is a common part of pregnancy and tends to happen in the lower parts of the body, such as the wrists and legs. Typically, symptoms are milder in the morning and develop during the day. This is not preeclampsia, where edema abruptly happens and tends to be much more serious.
The following signs and symptoms could evolve later:
- Blurry vision, flashing lights sometimes
- Severe headache often
- Pain on the right side just below the ribs
- The rapid increase in weight (caused by retention of fluid)
- Decline in blood platelets
- Impaired function of the liver
The main sign of preeclampsia in the fetus is the restriction of growth due to the reduced placental blood supply.
Experts aren’t sure why preeclampsia is taking place. Most claim there is an issue with placenta growth because the blood vessels that feed it are smaller than usual and react differently to hormonal signals
Because the blood vessels are smaller than normal, there is limited blood flow.
It is not fully understood why the blood vessels develop differently, but a number of factors may play a role; including:
- Blood vessel damage
- Lack of blood flow to the uterus
- Problem with the immune system
- Genetic factors
How Do I Know If I Have Preeclampsia?
Your healthcare provider will inspect your blood pressure, urine levels and may request blood tests to demonstrate if you have preeclampsia at each prenatal check-up. Your doctor may also conduct other tests including inspecting the functions of the liver and blood clotting; ultrasound scanning to verify your baby’s development, and Doppler scanning to assess bloodstream effectiveness to the placenta.
Until the child is born, preeclampsia is not healed.
Until the blood pressure of the mother comes down, she is at higher risk of stroke, severe bleeding, separation of the placenta from the uterus, and seizures. In some instances, particularly if the preeclampsia began prematurely, the greatest choice for the fetus may not be delivery
It is recommended that women who have had preeclampsia in prior pregnancies attend prenatal sessions more frequently. The following drugs may be suggested:
- Antihypertensives: Used to reduce blood pressure.
- Anticonvulsants: These medicines are used to prevent a first seizure in severe cases. Magnesium sulfate may be prescribed by your doctor.
- Corticosteroids: These drugs can improve platelet and liver function if the mother has preeclampsia or HELLP syndrome. Pregnancy can be prolonged.
They also accelerate the baby’s lungs development, which is important if they are to be born prematurely. HELLP syndrome usually receives the best treatment as soon as possible.
How Does Preeclampsia affect Baby?
It can prevent sufficient blood from the placenta. If you don’t get enough blood from the placenta, your baby will get less oxygen and food. This can lead to low birth weight. If preeclampsia is detected early and treated with regular prenatal care, most women can still deliver a healthy baby.
There is currently no certain way of preventing preeclampsia. It is possible to control some contributing factors to high blood pressure and some can’t. Follow the diet and exercise instructions from your doctor.
- In your meals, use little or no added salt.
- Drink water for 6-8 glasses a day.
- Don’t eat plenty of fried and junk foods
- Get plenty of rest.
- Exercise regularly.
- Elevate your feet during the day several times.
- Avoid the use of alcohol
- Avoid caffeine-containing drinks.
- Your doctor may suggest that you take prescribed medicine and other supplements.
Preeclampsia may have some long-term effects on the developing baby. Research has shown that high blood pressure can affect the cognitive skills of the baby in pregnant women, which can be carried into later life.