Pre-eclampsia

I've wanted to do this blog post for a while. If you have read my very first post here, you'll know that C was born prematurely because I had severe pre-eclampsia and he needed to be delivered as soon as possible.

Women with pre-eclampsia have high blood pressure, fluid retention (oedema) and protein in the urine (proteinuria). If left untreated, it can lead to serious complications.

The exact cause of pre-eclampsia is unknown. It's thought to occur when there is a problem with the placenta.

As this was my first pregnancy. I Google-searched every little symptom. I was convinced fairly early on that I would develop pre-eclampsia. I have no idea why (honestly, even ask Chris if you don't believe me!). Chris brushed it off as I am a very anxious person at the best of times.

At around 20 weeks pregnant, I noticed that I was bloating a lot and my fingers would swell when walking (bear in mind that this was in Summer so I thought that it was heat-related) and my face, legs and feet were swollen too. I assumed that it was normal in pregnancy.

My blood pressure seemed relatively normal at all my midwife appointments and peeing on my protein sticks every week never showed any problems. Until that day. It showed 4+'s (the highest amount). I ignored it. I didn't want to believe. I felt fine. Nothing was wrong. Then I went temporarily blind the following night and had to visit the hospital. The staff told me that I was very lucky that I went in when I did. The worst could have happened.

Mild pre-eclampsia affects 10% of first-time pregnancies. Severe pre-eclampsia affects 1-2% of pregnancies (if only I could get that lucky on the lottery!).

Apparently if you have pre-eclampsia in your first pregnancy, you are more likely to have it in subsequent pregnancies. This terrifies me. I loved being pregnant and I love being a mum. There's nothing I want more than to give C a sibling. Yes, I'll be taking aspirin from around 6 weeks pregnant and monitored more but it's still scary.

Treatment for pre-eclampsia focuses on lowering blood pressure and managing the other symptoms, sometimes with medication.

The only way to cure pre-eclampsia is to deliver the baby. Being born prematurely (before 37 weeks) can be dangerous for the baby, but it may be necessary to relieve the mother's symptoms which is what the case was with myself. Delivering at 33 weeks was very risky but Chris could have lost both of us if we waited any longer.

Complications of pre-eclampsia are responsible for the deaths of around six women each year. Several hundred babies also die each year, often as a result of premature birth. The earlier it's picked up on, the better the outlook for mum and baby.

We got lucky. Yes, we both had to stay in hospital for a few weeks but we came out unscathed. My advice is: don't ignore the symptoms. If you feel that something is wrong, call your midwife or Maternity Unit. Don't worry about making a fool out of yourself or thinking "I don't want to be a pain if nothing's wrong" (I'm guilty of that one). You need to put your mind at rest for you and your baby. These people are there to help.

Below is a photograph of me 2 days after giving birth. You can really see the swelling on my face.



And here I am with C around 4 weeks after giving birth after the swelling went down.


[Pre-eclampsia information from NHS website]



2 comments

  1. Amazing post....quite scary...following now via networked blogs(pink lips)

    ReplyDelete

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