Preeclampsia can affect mom and baby in many ways.

pregnant woman lying in doctor's office

May is Preeclampsia Awareness Month. We wanted to take this opportunity to educate and spread awareness about this condition that affects around eight percent of pregnancies. If not treated quickly, preeclampsia can cause severe complications for the mother, including renal failure, liver failure and cardiovascular problems. In its most severe form, preeclampsia can lead to eclampsia, which brings on seizures for the expecting mother. 

Preeclampsia can affect the unborn baby in different ways, including:

  • Preventing the placenta from getting enough blood
  • The baby getting less oxygen and food
  • Possible low birth rate

During each prenatal visit, doctors monitor pregnant women’s vitals closely for signs of preeclampsia, as early detection is key to a healthy mom and baby.

What Causes Preeclampsia 

Some women can be at an increased risk of developing preeclampsia during pregnancy. Women with the following risk factors should be extra diligent:

  • Gestational hypertension or preeclampsia complications in the past
  • Sisters or mothers who suffered preeclampsia
  • Carrying twins, triplets, etc.
  • Younger than 20 or older than 40
  • High blood pressure prior to pregnancy
  • Kidney disease
  • Obesity 

Preeclampsia Warning Signs

During a preeclampsia test, doctors look for a variety of signals that a pregnant woman might be preeclamptic, including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Protein in the urine
  • Water retention

Severe preeclampsia symptoms include headaches, light sensitivity, blurred vision, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, bruising, pain in the upper-right abdomen and urinating small amounts or infrequently. Pregnant women should speak with their doctor immediately if they begin to experience these symptoms. 

Preeclampsia Treatment

The only cure for preeclampsia is to deliver the baby. Therefore, doctors will develop a treatment plan for preeclamptic mothers depending on the age of the unborn child. 

Preeclampsia Treatment may include:

  • Rest
  • Limiting salt intake
  • Drinking more water
  • Eating more protein
  • Increased doctor visits
  • Blood pressure medication
  • Nutritional supplements
  • Delivering the baby early, in some cases

Preeclampsia Prevention

Pregnant women can take a few measures to reduce their risk of developing preeclampsia, including:

  • Drastically limiting salt intake
  • Drinking eight glasses of water daily
  • Avoiding fried and unhealthy foods
  • Getting plenty of rest
  • Regular exercise
  • Elevating feet several times a day
  • Avoiding alcohol
  • Avoiding caffeine
  • Taking supplements and/or medications as prescribed by their doctor

As always, your AWHDallas physicians are here for you during whatever journey you’re on. Contact us today to make an appointment!

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