What Is Preeclampsia?
Preeclampsia is a condition unique to pregnancy. It typically affects around 6% of pregnancies, and usually appears in the second half of pregnancy or (rarely) soon after their baby is born.
What Are The Symptoms Of Preeclampsia?
Preeclampsia is a condition marked by:
- high blood pressure (hypertension)
- protein in the urine (proteinuria) in the mother
- swelling of the hands, face, ankles and feet
- rapid weight gain (more than 5lbs in one week)
- severe headaches
- vision problems (such as seeing blurry or flashing lights)
- a general feeling of being very unwell
Why Is Preeclampsia So Dangerous?
Both mother and baby can be affected by preeclampsia. Preeclampsia can sometimes develop into eclampsia, which can result in brain seizures in the mother, organ failure, and death.
When Should I Seek Help?
If you think you have the symptoms of preeclampsia, it’s important to seek medical advice immediately, either from your midwife, GP or local hospital. The earlier the condition is monitored and treated, the outcome for mother and baby improves.
How Common Is PreEclampsia?
It is more common in first pregnancies (or a first pregnancy with a new partner) and in women who have developed preeclampsia in a previous pregnancy. Around 1-2% of cases of preeclampsia become severe.
What Increases My Risk Of Developing Preeclampsia?
Some conditions can increase the risk of developing preeclampsia.
If you have one of these conditions (listed below), it is likely that your pregnancy will be monitored more closely for complications, including preeclampsia.
- High blood pressure
- Kidney disease
- Previous pre-eclampsia
- Multiple pregnancy
- Over 40 years
- BMI over 35
How Is Preeclampsia Treated?
There is no treatment for preeclampsia besides delivery of your baby.
The condition is closely monitored and, in most cases, the pregnancy continues without further problems and baby is delivered normally; this may require a stay in hospital until the condition is stable – this may be for a number of weeks whilst medication is administered to reduce blood pressure.
Delivery would be planned for 37-38 weeks, but earlier if the condition is severe.