Preeclampsia: What You Need to Know

With silent, internal symptoms, preeclampsia can change your whole pregnancy.

May is National Preeclampsia Awareness Month, a condition some pregnant women can develop after the 20th week of carrying a baby. High blood pressure or internal issues such as trouble with the kidneys, liver, or lungs are all effects of preeclampsia. Most women diagnosed will still deliver healthy babies and their body will heal; however, the condition can cause complications for both the baby and the mother. Doctors will keep a very close eye on a mother with a family or personal history of preeclampsia, or who has been exhibiting signs of the condition. Preeclampsia can be managed, but it can also progress to a severe nature very quickly.

How is it Diagnosed?

Many practices track both the blood pressure and urine protein levels of expectant mothers. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists also outlines problems with kidney and liver functionality, fluid in the lungs, trouble with vision, or decreased blood platelets as signs to be aware of.

Symptoms You Might Experience with Preeclampsia

  • Headaches

  • Pain in your stomach

  • Shortness of breath

  • A burning feeling behind your breastbone

  • Nausea

  • Mental confusion

  • Heightened anxiety

  • Vision issues such as blurriness, sensitivity to light, or seeing spots

Preeclampsia impacts up to 8% of births in the U.S. Once diagnosed, a doctor will keep a close watch on the mother’s blood pressure, organ function, and platelet levels. They will also assess the baby’s growth and environment to make sure the child is out of danger. If blood pressure remains too high and does not respond to antihypertensive medication, or if the kidney or liver are failing, doctors will discuss the best choices to keep both mother and baby safe. If platelet levels drop too low, or if the blood pressure is causing conditions that might result in a seizure or stroke, doctors might also prescribe magnesium sulfate to keep the mother safe.

Preeclampsia sounds scary, and it can be, but medial practice and parameters have been put in place to make sure both mom and growing baby remain stable, safe, and ready to enter the world at just the right moment.

If you are pregnant and are concerned something might not be right, or if you have a family history of preeclampsia, schedule an appointment by calling 717-747-3099 or clicking on the button below. To learn more about our practice before you come in, you can check out our free webinar here.


Dr. Robert Filer

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