Pregnancy is a joyous, yet probably somewhat uncomfortable, period of change in your life. As your body adjusts to nurture your growing child, you might notice some less-than-welcome changes. One of these might be the onset of a blood pressure disorder known as preeclampsia. Learn more about this condition and how to keep you and your baby healthy.
What Is Preeclampsia?
Occurring in up to 10% of pregnancies, preeclampsia is an abnormally high blood pressure that affects women later in their pregnancy, starting around week 20. While the majority of cases begin during pregnancy, there is the possibility of developing postpartum preeclampsia, which begins 24-48 hours after giving birth.
To make a diagnosis, your doctor will look for a variety of symptoms and perform blood and urine tests. If you notice any of the following during your pregnancy, make note of them and schedule an appointment with your doctor:
Swelling of the face, eyes, or hands
Significant weight gain in two days’ time
Some symptoms can be signs that your preeclampsia is severe and immediate medical treatment is necessary. If you experience any of the following symptoms, go to your nearest emergency room:
Pain under the right ribs or in the right shoulder
Changes in vision
Severe nausea or vomiting
How Can Preeclampsia Affect Your Pregnancy?
With proper treatment, you can have a healthy pregnancy. However, untreated preeclampsia can leave your baby without an adequate supply of oxygenated blood, which can hinder their development. In addition, your own organs might not get the right amount of blood and oxygen, which can lead to permanent damage.