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Managing Preeclampsia During Your Pregnancy

Managing Preeclampsia During Your PregnancyThose of you who have been glued to Downton Abbey this season have heard the term, but what exactly is preeclampsia and how is it treated these days?

Preeclampsia is when a woman develops high blood pressure and excess protein in her urine after her 20th week of pregnancy. While the exact cause is unknown, potential causes include autoimmune disorders, diet, blood vessel conditions, and your genes. The risk factors include obesity, being over 35, a history of diabetes, high blood pressure or kidney disease, first pregnancy, and a multiple pregnancy (twins or more). If left untreated, preeclampsia can lead to ecclampsia which is associated with seizures that can affect mother and baby.

Many women with preeclampsia do not experience any outward symptoms, although some may experience sudden weight gain or swelling of the hands, face or eyes. In more severe cases you may experience a headache that won’t go away, belly pain, nausea and vomiting, vision changes, or decreased urine output.

During your prenatal visits your AOA doctor will regularly check your blood pressure, as well as your urine. If it is higher than 140/90, there is protein in the urine, you may have preeclampsia. Blood work will also be checked because preeclampsia can be associated with blood, kidney and/or liver abnormalities.

The only way to cure the condition is to deliver your baby. If you are less than 37 weeks pregnant your doctor may recommend managing your preeclampsia with bed rest, blood pressure medication, and careful monitoring. If you are at least 37 weeks pregnant, your doctor may recommend an early delivery so that your condition doesn’t worsen.

The symptoms of preeclampsia usually go away within six weeks of giving birth, but sometimes gets worse briefly just after delivery. If you’ve had the condition with one pregnancy you are more likely to develop it again with the next pregnancy.

Because there is the possibility of some complications for the mother and child, it is important that you start your prenatal care early and continue it throughout your pregnancy. Your AOA physician will monitor your blood pressure and kidney function to catch any signs of preeclampsia and take the necessary steps to protect your health and the health of your child.

Learn more about preeclampsia: