Preeclampsia is defined as high blood pressure and protein in the urine after 20 weeks of pregnancy in women who previously had normal blood pressure. The cause of preeclampsia has yet to be uncovered, but it can have serious effects for both mother and child.
Preeclampsia affects between 2-8% of pregnancies worldwide. While it may start after 20 weeks of pregnancy, it is more commonly found after 32 weeks.
Here is an informative guide to preeclampsia from “The Complete Illustrated Pregnancy Companion; A Week-by-Week Guide to Everything You Need to Do for a Healthy Pregnancy,” by Robin Elise Weisse, LCCE, CD (With Marchello Pietrantoni, MD, FACOG.
Sometimes high blood pressure or pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH) goes beyond simple high blood pressure. If you have additional symptoms, such as swelling and/or protein in the urine, high blood pressure turns into something called preeclampsia.
This is a much more serious complication of pregnancy than simple high blood pressure. Symptoms of preeclampsia include the following:
- Blurred vision or seeing spots
- Sudden or rapid weight gain
- Severe headaches
- Pain in the abdomen
- Decrease in the amount of urine produced
Report any of these symptoms right away to your practitioner. Typically bed rest and medication can help lessen some of the symptoms. If treatment fails to reduce the symptoms, the only option is to have the mother give birth to prevent more serious complications such as seizures and renal failure. This is true even if the baby will be born prematurely.
Some studies show preeclampsia and its more severe form, eclampsia, can lead to problems later in life, such as coronary artery disease and diabetes. If you suffer from preeclampsia or eclampsia in pregnancy, you should be screened later in life, too.
While preeclampsia occurs most often with first-time mothers, it can reoccur in subsequent pregnancies. It can also show up for the first time in later pregnancies, even after a number of uncomplicated pregnancies.
“The Complete Illustrated Pregnancy Companion” provides the comfort of knowing what is going on during pregnancy combined with advice that changes each week with an expectant mother’s body will warm the heart and well as calm the nerves.
This fully illustrated pregnancy guide gives an expectant mothers week-by-week information on their body and the child’s physical development; and then explains what they should do at each week of pregnancy for an optimally healthy pregnancy, delivery, and baby. A chapter is devoted to each week of pregnancy and covers everything readers need to know including, baby’s size, mother’s size, what’s normal in terms of physical symptoms and development, and what could indicate a potentially serious problem. Nutritional, exercise, and lifestyle advice, tips on treating common pregnancy discomforts like morning sickness and sciatica, and pregnancy do’s and don’ts, ensure a happy and healthy mother and baby.
Robin Elise Weiss is a childbirth and postpartum educator, certified doula, and lactation counselor as well as the pregnancy/birth expert for About.com. She is the author of seven books on pregnancy and childbirth and she and her work has been featured in Newsweek, Working Mother, and American Baby. You can find more information about Robin at: http://pregnancy.about.com, http://robineliseweiss.com, and http://birthactivist.com.