What is Preeclampsia?
Do you know what preeclampsia is? Since today is recognized as Preeclampsia Awareness Day, we decided to share some information about this condition.
Preeclampsia is a challenging pregnancy complication that progresses rapidly, and if not diagnosed right away, it can have serious consequences for mother and baby. Per the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the definition is presence of high blood pressure (hypertension) and protein in the urine (proteinuria) after 20 weeks of gestation in a patient that had normal blood pressure before getting pregnant.
Although the true cause of preeclampsia is still unknown, it is suspected that the placenta is directly involved, and researchers are working hard to find out an answer since around 5 to 7% of pregnant women worldwide present this condition. It is also the leading cause of maternal death and the cause of 15% of premature births in the US.
The main symptoms of preeclampsia are high blood pressure, protein in the urine and swelling of face, hands and feet. Severe headaches, visual disturbances and/or changes, dizziness and abdominal pain can also be signs of this condition, so if you feel any of those, don’t hesitate to inform your care provider.
The early diagnosis of preeclampsia is essential and gives a better chance for a good outcome for both mother and baby. The treatment is the delivery of the baby as soon as possible. In this situation, a transfer to the hospital is necessary in case of an out-of-hospital birth, but it is still possible to have a vaginal delivery, as long as mother and baby are safe and stable.
After the baby is delivered, the mother should still receive care and attention from her care providers because she can also develop preeclampsia postpartum (even after a few weeks of delivery), and the symptoms can manifest themselves as pain in the extremities, headaches, swelling that wasn’t present before and high blood pressure.
So pay attention to your body, and go to you care provider as soon as you think something is not right. We want you and your baby to be safe, always!