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Understanding preeclampsia

Preeclampsia usually affects women in their 20th week of pregnancy or when they have just delivered. Unfortunately, the signs of preeclampsia may not be easy to detect for women, but these can be detected during your antenatal appointments.

Some of the signs of preeclampsia

Some of the early signs of preeclampsia include the presence of protein in urine and high blood pressure. For some women, there may be further symptoms like:

  • Vision problems
  • Severe head pain
  • Pain in your ribs
  • Swelling in the face, hands, ankles and feet due to edema which is retention of fluid

If you are experiencing these symptoms, you must speak with your midwife or doctor. Most of these cases are mild but some could be serious leading to complications for both you and your baby if left undiagnosed and untreated. This is why it is important that preeclampsia is diagnosed early on and further, monitored on a regular basis to ensure safety of the mother and baby.

What could increase your chance of preeclampsia?

Mild cases of preeclampsia affect about 6% of all pregnancies while only 1 to 2 percent show serious cases. Some reasons which increase the chances of preeclampsia include:

  • High blood pressure, diabetes or kidney disease before pregnancy
  • Certain medical conditions like antiphospholipid syndrome
  • Preeclampsia during your previous pregnancies
  • Family history of preeclampsia
  • 40 years of age or above
  • A 10 year gap between pregnancies
  • Multiple pregnancies like twins
  • Body Mass Index more than 35

How should you prepare for your consultation?

If preeclampsia has been diagnosed during your prenatal tests, you will recommended to visit your obstetrician. Here are some pointers which will help you during your consultation:

  • You must write down the symptoms you have experienced even though you might think they are normal symptoms of pregnancy.
  • Make a list of all the supplements and vitamins you take.
  • To ensure that you remember all your questions, you must take along a friend or family member with you.
  • You must write down some important questions to ask your doctor so that you do not forget anything before the appointment runs out. Some of the questions could be – how does preeclampsia affect my baby? Will the pregnancy be safe for me? What other signs should I look out for? How often should I visit a doctor?

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