About 1 in every 20 pregnancies is affected by preeclampsia. It is usually seen after 20th week of pregnancy or post-partum. It is a condition that affects the endothelial cells (the lining cells) of the blood vessels of many organs and also the placenta. So, in this later leads to less blood supply to your baby, causing low birth weights and premature births along with multi-organ dysfunctions in severe cases.
In most cases, it is associated with high blood pressure and protein in the urine.
The exact causes are unknown but there are a certain number of risk factors
1. First pregnancy
2. Age below 20 years or more than 40 years of age
3. You have a personal or family history (your mother or sister have had similar complications)
4. Obesity, body mass index (BMI) is more than 30
5. Known case of hypertension (high blood pressure), and/ or kidney disease, diabetes
6. Pregnant with multiple babies
How do you know it’s affecting you?
1. Swelling- Any sudden increase and also puffiness noted in the hands, around ankles and your face.
2. Rapid weight gain (because of fluid retention)
3. Headaches, blurry vision.
4. A decrease in urine output.
If you notice any of these, go to your doctor. Your doctor keeps a track of your blood pressure and weight every appointment, hence will promptly tell you if there are any fluctuations.
Also, urine samples are taken regularly to rule out proteinuria. An ultrasound helps in seeing your baby’s progress and growth.
It is cured soon after the delivery of your baby. Women with mild preeclampsia are advised rest and given antihypertensive drugs (to control blood pressure) and steroids (for maturation of baby’s lungs) and monitored in short intervals at their homes or hospitals. Delivery is delayed until 37th week of gestation and then induced or C-section is done, to the discretion of their doctor.
Women with severe preeclampsia, delivery is usually considered after 34 weeks of gestation. In addition to the above drugs, an antiepileptic (to avoid seizures) may be added.
Can I prevent it from happening?
It cannot be fully prevented but rest, reduced intake of salt, regular checkups; increasing water intake(6 to 8 glasses) and regular exercise may help. Prompt diagnosis and management of the same can help you and your baby recover to full health.