The one thing that any pregnant woman would fear is developing any complications due to pregnancy. In the majority of cases, if the mom-to-be is taking excellent care of herself, and was not excessively overweight before getting pregnant, the pregnancy usually is quite smooth. However, unfortunately, even so, sometimes she is given a poor hand and ends up with a complication. And, one of those complications that pregnant women can end up with is pre-eclampsia which usually shows up towards the end of the pregnancy. At one time, preeclampsia was called toxemia and the first warning sign is consistent high blood pressure. The consistent high blood pressure will cause the protein to leak in urine, and then there is plenty of swelling in the feet, legs, as well as feet. And, if the blood pressure is not properly managed with preeclampsia, then a severe condition, eclampsia can emerge.
Eclampsia is serious because it causes the organs to shut down, and it causes seizures which put the mother’s life and the baby’s life at risk. And the only solution for this is delivery which can mean that there is a good chance that the baby will be premature if it happens under 37 weeks. Unfortunately, there is no cure for preeclampsia either, and if preeclampsia happens after 32 weeks, then the baby just may have to be delivered as it becomes more dangerous as the pregnancy progresses. If the condition happens sooner, then blood pressure medications are prescribed as well as bed rest in order to keep the condition managed so it does not worsen and put the lives of the mother and the unborn baby at risk.
Many times there are no obvious symptoms of preeclampsia other than consistent hypertension, and not every case presents protein in the urine either. However, more often than not, once the preeclampsia worsens, that is when protein begins to spill which is when action will be taken immediately whether it is to put the mother on blood pressure meditation, bedrest, or if the pregnancy is progressed enough, then delivery. Sometimes sudden weight gain of 4 or more lbs in a week in the third trimester is a sign as well, however, in a handful of cases, some pregnant women do get symptoms which means the condition has worsened. The symptoms experienced with preeclampsia are:
- Extreme changes in vision or seeing floaters
- Nausea and vomiting
- Having trouble with urine output
- Abdominal pain
- Extreme swelling of hands, feet, and legs due to extreme fluid retention
However, again, not every pregnant woman with preeclampsia as these symptoms and this is why the doctor will constantly need to take blood pressure as well as urine checks. If the blood pressure has been consistently high for a while, then that is when concerns will be raised and the pregnant woman will need to start taking blood pressure at home every few hours to monitor it. And, it is extremely important that if preeclampsia happens earlier on in the pregnancy which is not usually before 20 weeks, but even at that point, it is very important that the mother-to-be who has the condition manages it properly. She must take blood pressure medication as instructed, and get as much rest as possible, and go for more prenatal visits for check-ups because those will be expected. If the preeclampsia is not properly managed, then that can prevent the blood flow from going through the placenta properly which will cause:
- Low birth weight
- Prematurity (which is likely to happen if the preeclampsia becomes unmanageable by necessity due to induction)
- Cerebral palsy
- Vision and hearing problems
- Learning disabilities
Preeclampsia can also cause the placenta to separate from the womb and this term is called placental abruption. However, even if the preeclampsia became unmanageable and the baby was delivered without any complications, and the baby was unaffected, the mother is not out of the woods as she would be given magnesium to lower the blood pressure. She can still suffer from complications even after birth, and it can be serious to the point that she would have:
- Bleeding from the liver
- Blindness that is not reversible
- A stroke
- Water in the lungs
- Heart failure
However, this is also rare because the treatment after birth is effective and the mother is usually healed after some time has elapsed during the postpartum period. But, it cannot be neglected or ignored even after the fact. Her blood pressure will have to be constantly monitored and it can take a while for it to return to normal. Preeclampsia is not deadly if properly managed, but it is a serious condition that needs to be taken seriously!