May is Preeclampsia Awareness Month, and it is very important that women who are interested in growing their families are aware of the condition, which is very serious and requires immediate medical care.
Unfortunately, it is possible for preeclampsia to develop without any obvious symptoms. This is why consistent blood pressure monitoring is so important during pregnancy. In cases where symptoms are present, women (and their partners) need to keep an eye out for:
- High blood pressure
- Swollen feet and/or legs
- Fatigue (more than normal, severe)
- Blurry vision
- Urine with a positive test for protein
If any of the above symptoms develop, patients need to seek medical care immediately. If you are unsure whether a symptom is present, please contact your PGOMG physician as soon as possible or visit an emergency medical center.
Once diagnosed, preeclampsia treatment will require additional appointments with your PGOMG physician than are normally required during pregnancy. Additional urine and blood tests and ultrasounds will be used so your physician can carefully monitor your health as well as your baby’s well-being. Your physician may prescribe medication, depending on the severity of your preeclampsia, and bed rest is also a common recommendation to ensure expectant mothers are not exerting themselves in a way that could cause any harm to the mom or her baby. Preeclampsia ends once your baby is born.
There are steps women can take in order to help prevent preeclampsia, but they are not a guarantee that the condition won’t develop. The condition is caused by a number of factors, including those associated with your genes, immune system, uterus, and/or damage to blood vessels.
The following are recommended steps for pregnant women in order to aid in the prevention of preeclampsia:
- Be conscientious about tracking and vocal with your physician about your concerns/symptoms.
- Create a list of your concerns/symptoms so a record can be clearly understood outside of your medical appointments; a journal is helpful for this, or take notes on your phone.
- Attend every prenatal appointment.
- Check with your physician as to whether you are at risk.
- Risk factors can include a personal or familial medical history of the condition.
For those with questions, please contact PGOMG. This is particularly important if you have a personal or family history of the condition or a history of high blood pressure.