Dealing With Pre-eclampsia
Pre-eclampsia (PE) which is a pregnancy induced condition observed in the second or third trimester, is characterized by high blood pressure, water retention and protein in the urine. It causes the narrowing of blood vessels and restricted blood supply to the liver, kidneys and other organs, reducing placental perfusion and thus affecting the baby.
This condition is life-threatening and the only known treatment is the delivery of the foetus. It is also dangerous for the foetus, as well as the mother and can cause serious complications in both.
- Age (Pre-eclampsia is more common in very young women and also In women older than 40 years)
- Primigravida – pre-eclampsia is more common in a first pregnancy
- History of pre-eclampsia
- Multiple pregnancy
- Chronic hypertension
- Certain conditions such as lupus, diabetes, chronic high blood pressure increase the risk of pre eclampsia
An early screening of the condition and the use of Ecospirin prevents pre eclampsia and it has been proved by the double-blind randomized controlled trial, ASPRE.
Timely Intervention And Early Recognition
1. Apart from the usual pregnancy symptoms, visit you doctor if you have any of these symptoms:
- Blurring of vision
- Abdominal pain
- Swelling of feet
- Excessive weight gain
- Decrease in urination
- Nausea and vomiting
2. You should seek emergency care in case the above mentioned symptoms are very severe, as it may be a sign of impending eclampsia. Eclampsia is convulsions with pre-eclampsia.
3. Blood pressure monitoring – in pre eclampsia, there may be sudden rise of blood pressure in spite of being on medication, so regular BP monitoring is very important.
4. Know the risks and complications – once you are diagnosed with pre eclampsia you should know that you are at risk of:
- Seizures/ eclampsia
- Placental abruption
- Blindness due to retinal detachment
- Severe bleeding
- End organ damage such as damage to the kidneys, liver, lung, heart and eyes
- Cardiovascular disease – having pre eclampsia may increase your risk of having future heart disease
5. Discuss the risks involved for the baby, as in pre-eclampsia due to a decreased placental perfusion and high resistance, the baby may develop intra-uterine growth restriction and may require early delivery. As a baby delivered before 37 weeks is premature, it should be talked over with your doctor. Your doctor may advise steroid injection for your baby’s lung maturity. Also, if your baby Is very pre-term, then the baby may require to be in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit or NICU.
6. Plan your delivery – ii you are 37 weeks into your pregnancy, the doctor may induce you with prostaglandins. You may also need an emergency Caesarean section, if your symptoms are very severe, or in a condition where continuing the pregnancy may be harmful for you and your baby. Thus, if you have pre eclampsia, make sure you plan your delivery in a hospital with maternal ICU and NICU facilities.