All future mothers want to have a problem-free pregnancy and give birth to a healthy baby. One of the frequent complications in pregnancy is preeclampsia, a disease that requires medical care. Learn to recognize its signs quickly when you’re pregnant.

La prééclampsie

Although the world “preeclampsia” may seem unfamiliar to you, this complication occurs in 7% of pregnancies in the world. The severity of the disease varies from mild to serious and can have a number of consequences on the health of the mother and the baby. This is why all pregnant women should be able to recognize the warning signs of this disease.

A word about preeclampsia

Preeclampsia can be defined as a combination of high blood pressure (hypertension; above 140/90 mm Hg) and the presence of proteins in the urine. Normally, the kidneys act as a filter and prevent proteins from being passed out in the urine. However, when the blood pressure is too high (hypertension), the kidney loses its capacity to act as a sieve. So, proteins pass out in the urine. In other words, the kidneys don’t function normally. The exact cause of this disease in pregnancy is not known.

The health problem affects only pregnant women, mostly after 20 weeks of pregnancy. If it is not attended to quickly, preeclampsia can have serious consequences. The repercussions affect the mother as much as the foetus. In the mother, preeclampsia can cause complications such as convulsions, liver and kidney damage. In babies, it can cause arrested growth and stillbirth.

So, pregnant women must absolutely be able to recognize the symptoms of this disease quickly.

Warning signs

If you suffer from one of the following symptoms, it is necessary to consult your pharmacist or doctor as soon as possible. As mentioned earlier, they appear most often after the 20th week of pregnancy, rather suddenly:

  • hypertension (above 140/90 mm Hg);
  • presence of proteins in urine samples during testing;
  • migraines;
  • decrease in urine volume;
  • sudden weight gain;
  • swelling of face, hands, legs, or feet;
  • visual or auditory problems;
  • significant vomiting;
  • general discomfort;
  • confusion;
  • convulsions.

There are several factors that can increase the risk of developing preeclampsia. Women with an increased risk of developing this disease must be closely monitored by their doctors during pregnancy, particularly those who:

  • are aged less than 20 or more than 40;
  • have already had preeclampsia during a previous pregnancy;
  • have a history of preeclampsia in the family (mother or sister);
  • are pregnant for the first time;
  • are having a multiple pregnancy (e.g., twins, triplets);
  • are of Amerindian or African descent;
  • live with certain conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, or kidney disease;
  • were significantly overweight before pregnancy;
  • had a high blood pressure reading during the first prenatal check-up.

Prevention measures and treatment

Unfortunately, preeclampsia occurs silently without any warning signs. But a few measures can be taken to maintain your health, reduce the risk of developing this disease, or minimize its consequences. For instance:

  • keeping a healthy and balanced diet;
  • eating lots of dairy products or taking a calcium supplement;
  • resting a lot;
  • avoiding stress; practising relaxation techniques;
  • exercising (e.g., walking, swimming, etc.);
  • having blood pressure readings taken regularly during pregnancy;

The most effective preeclampsia treatment is to proceed with delivery. If it is too early, measures will be taken to postpone the delivery as much as possible. The decision to induce labour will depend on the state of health of the mother and child. Using other injectable medications could also be considered to control the symptoms of preeclampsia before delivery and reduce the risk of complications.

If a preeclampsia diagnosis is made during pregnancy, a follow-up will be necessary even after delivery. You should monitor your pressure every day. Usually, everything will normalize within a few weeks. 

Preeclampsia is a medical condition that must be taken very seriously because of the dire consequences possible when it isn’t treated on time. Don’t wait to consult a healthcare professional when you have any of the signs or symptoms mentioned in this text or when you are in the least worried during your pregnancy. It is better to see a doctor for nothing than to miss a critical diagnosis. In addition to being aware of unusual symptoms, adopting healthy lifestyle habits, resting, and taking good care of yourself are measures that can help prevent many health problems and ensure a happy pregnancy without any unpleasant surprises!

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