Pre-eclampsia is a condition unique to pregnancy, affecting some pregnant women and usually happens in the second half of pregnancy or soon after their baby is born.
Early Signs Of Pre-Eclampsia
Characteristically the mother develops high blood pressure (hypertension) and protein in the urine(proteinuria). 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 had pre-eclampsia in a previous pregnancy. Mild Pre-Eclampsia affects around 6% pregnancies, with 1-2 % becoming severe.
Swelling of the feet and ankles, face and hands (oedema). This is caused by fluid retention.
Both the mother and fetus can be affected by pre-eclampsia. The placenta may not be functioning efficiently causing fetal growth to be impaired and the amniotic fluid reduced. Pre-Eclampsia can sometimes develop into Eclampsia which can be life threatening for both mother and fetus. This condition can result in convulsions with changes to the brain.
If you notice any of the symptoms of pre-eclampsia, seek medical advice immediately, either your midwife, GP or local hospital.
The earlier the condition is monitored and treated, the outcome for mother and baby improves.
There is no treatment that will cure pre-eclampsia. The only treatment that will cure it is delivery of your baby, so the condition is closely monitored and in most cases the pregnancy continues without a problem and baby is delivered normally. This may require a stay in hospital until the condition is stable, in some cases it may be many weeks whilst medication is administered to reduce blood pressure. Delivery would be planned for 37-38 weeks but earlier if the condition is severe.
Predisposing Factors For Developing Pre-Eclampsia
Some conditions can increase the risk of developing pre-eclampsia and if you have one of these conditions, it is likely that your pregnancy will be monitored more closely.
- High Bood Pressure
- Kidney Disease
- Previous pre-eclampsia
- Multiple Pregnancy
- Over 40 years
- BMI over 35