What Is Pre-Eclampsia?
Pre-eclampsia 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.
Pre-eclampsia is a condition marked by high blood pressure (hypertension) and protein in the urine (proteinuria) in the mother.
Why Is Pre-Eclampsia So Dangerous?
Both mother and baby can be affected by pre-eclampsia. Pre-eclampsia 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 pre-eclampsia, 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.
What Are The Early Signs Of Pre-Eclampsia?
Early signs of pre-eclampsia are high blood pressure (hypertension) and protein in the urine (proteinuria) in the mother. This is why, when you attend for your antenatal check ups, your blood pressure and urine will be tested as routine.
It is more common in first pregnancies (or a first pregnancy with a new partner) and in women who have developed pre-eclampsia in a previous pregnancy. Around 1-2% of cases of pre-eclampsia become severe.
Other symptoms of pre-eclampsia include:
Swelling of the feet and ankles, face and hands (oedema)
Shortness of breath
What Increases My Risk Of Developing Pre-Eclampsia?
Some conditions can increase the risk of developing pre-eclampsia.
If you have one of these conditions (listed below), it is likely that your pregnancy will be monitored more closely for complications, including pre-eclampsia.
- High blood pressure
- Kidney disease
- Previous pre-eclampsia
- Multiple pregnancy
- Over 40 years
- BMI over 35
How Is Pre-Eclampsia Treated?
There is no treatment for pre-eclampsia 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.