Just a short term PSA for today…… Pre-eclampsia effects a percentage of mothers with widely varying symptoms and results and there is still much to be learned about this condition. However, one thing we do know, is that it can come on for the first time AFTER giving birth. In these cases, you can’t “Cure” it by having the baby.
What is pre-eclampsia you may ask? Straight from the Preeclampsia Foundation site: “Preeclampsia is a disorder that occurs only during pregnancy and the postpartum period and affects both the mother and the unborn baby. Affecting at least 5-8% of all pregnancies, it is a rapidly progressive condition characterized by high blood pressure and the presence of protein in the urine. Swelling, sudden weight gain, headaches and changes in vision are important symptoms; however, some women with rapidly advancing disease report few symptoms. Typically, preeclampsia occurs after 20 weeks gestation (in the late 2nd or 3rd trimesters, or middle to late pregnancy) and up to six weeks after delivery, though in rare cases it can occur earlier than 20 weeks. Proper prenatal care is essential to diagnose and manage preeclampsia. HELLP syndrome and eclampsia (seizures) are other variants of preeclampsia. Pregnancy Induced Hypertension (PIH) and toxemia are outdated terms for preeclampsia. Globally, preeclampsia and other hypertensive disorders of pregnancy are a leading cause of maternal and infant illness and death. By conservative estimates, these disorders are responsible for 76,000 maternal and 500,000 infant deaths each year.”
Even if you develop it during pregnancy, just because you have had your baby doesn’t mean that everything is back to normal. Your healthcare provider should be watching for signs/symptoms, but please make it a point to monitor any variations in your health such as changes in vision, dizziness/fatigue, swelling, etc. It’s easy to mistake these for “normal”, so take a quick note each day or a few times a day, and follow up with your providers with any things you may have noticed. We promise they will not think you are complaining, and it could just save your life.
For more info on the signs and symptoms and a wealth of other information on pregnancy related hypertensive disorders such as HELLP or eclampsia, check out the pre-eclampsia foundation (www.preeclampsia.org) – if you are a survivor, please make sure you register and share your story here: http://www.preeclampsiaregistry.org/
Please share this info with those you love if they are pregnant, or if they’re dealing with the fallout from this condition. Education may just save their lives.