A to Z’s of Preeclampsia: What Every Woman Needs to Know

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What is preeclampsia?

Preeclampsia, often called toxemia or pregnancy induced hypertension, is high blood pressure during pregnancy. Because high blood pressure constricts the vessels in the uterus that supply the baby with oxygen and nutrients, the babies growth could be slowed.

Preeclampsia also increases the risk of placental abruption, in which the placenta seperates from the uterine wall before delivery.

Is Preeclampsia Common?

Preeclampsia affects roughly 5 percent of first time mothers and up to two percent of those having a second baby.

In addition to high blood pressure, symptoms include protien in the urine, swell, and sudden weight gain.

Mild preeclampsia may only exhibit subtle symptoms.

What Causes Preeclampsia?

There is no known cause for preeclampsia, although some doctors think lifestyle and diet may have a factor in if a mother gets preeclampsia during pregnancy or not. Also, mothers who have had preeclampsia with previous babies, are at a higher risk to develop it down the road.

How Is It Diagnosed?

Preeclampsia is usually diagnosed with a battery of tests. Your blood pressure is the biggest indicator. Your doctor will also check for protien in your urine. If there is, he may order a 24 hour urine test. These can be done either at home or in a hospital. Other indicators are blood work, swelling and a baby who is not reactive during your NST (non stress test). An ultrasound can determine if your baby is not growing as they should.

How Do You Treat Preeclampsia?

It depends on how severe your case is and how far along you are in your pregnancy. If you have mild preeclampsia and are near your due date and your cervix has begun to thin and dialate, your doctor may induce labor. This prevents any complications if the preeclampsia were to worsen during your pregnancy.

If your uterus is not ready for induction, the doctor can monitor you and the baby until the time is right or labor begins on its own.

If you develop preeclampsia prior to 37 weeks, you will more then likely be placed on bed rest and in some cases blood pressure medication, until your blood pressure stabilizes or until you give birth.

In some cases, you may have no other choice then to deliver to preven health problems for mom and baby.


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