If you are pregnant, or if you have been pregnant before, you have probably heard of preeclampsia. It’s a condition that can occur during pregnancy and maybe you or someone you love had it.
Preeclampsia can be an extremely serious pregnancy condition that can happen at any time. There are usually warning signs, however, and moms-to-be who get regular prenatal care are generally screened for them at doctor visits.
So, what is it? It’s a hypertensive condition that affects mom AND baby and occurs in 5-8% of all pregnancies, according to the Preeclampsia Foundation. It usually occurs after the 20-week mark of pregnancy and it can occur up to six weeks AFTER delivery. The foundation estimates that hypertensive disorders in pregnancy like preeclampsia cause 76,000 maternal and 500,000 fetal deaths annually.
It’s important to know the warning signs, even though some women with preeclampsia have no symptoms. To learn more, read on:
High blood pressure
One of the main signs of preeclampsia is high blood pressure. You can’t tell if you have high blood pressure; it has to be measured by a medical professional. That’s why it is so very important to have proper prenatal care.
This is a fancy word for “protein in your pee.” And it’s also why your doctor has you pee in a cup during prenatal visits. Your doctor should be checking the protein levels in your urine during visits, to see if the level is changing.
Headaches and nausea
These can be common pregnancy symptoms OR they can be signs of preeclampsia. It’s hard to tell, right? If you have a migraine-like headache that lasts a long time or is exceptionally painful or changes in your vision, call your doctor.
Also, if you have vomiting that happens after the 20-week mark and comes on suddenly, call your OBGYN or midwife. It could be something as simple as food poisoning or a virus but it’s best to be checked out.
Many women swell during pregnancy, especially in their feet and for the most part, this is an annoying and normal part of the experience. However, if you have swelling in other areas like your face or hands or excessive swelling in your feet, call your doctor.
Aches and pains are common during pregnancy, especially as baby grows and moves. However, if you have stomach or shoulder pain that comes on suddenly, it could be a warning sign of preeclampsia.
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