Preeclampsia in Pregnancy Preeclampsia in Pregnancy

Preeclampsia is a condition in pregnancy characterized by high blood pressure. This usually occurs by the 20th week and can be a sign of damage to an organ, protein in the urine or other serious problems. Most women with preeclampsia had a normal blood pressure prior to pregnancy and can only go back to normal after the baby is delivered. At least, 2 out of every 100 pregnant women will have preeclampsia during pregnancy.

Even the slightest rise in blood pressure in pregnancy, may be an indication of preeclampsia and if left untreated, could lead to serious complications for the mother and child.

Symptoms of pre-eclampsia

High blood pressure

Water retention

Impaired liver function

Protein in the urine

Severe headaches

Blurry or temporary loss of vision


Nausea and vomiting,

Pain in the upper right abdomen

Shortness of breath, as a result of fluid in the lungs

Blood clotting

Infrequent urination

Sudden weight gain and swelling particularly in the face and hands


Factors responsible for developing pre-eclampsia:

  • First-time pregnancy
  • Gestational hypertension or pre-eclampsia in a previous pregnancy
  • Family history- having a mother or sisters who have had preeclampsia
  • Multiple Pregnancies
  • Women older than 40 years old or less than 20 years
  • Having babies less than two years or more than 10 years apart
  • A baby conceived with in vitro fertilization.
  • High blood pressure or kidney problems prior to pregnancy
  • Obese women or those with a BMI above 30

Pre-eclampsia is believed to begin with the placenta and this can prevent the placenta from getting enough blood. Early in pregnancy, new blood vessels develop and evolve to efficiently send blood to the placenta.  In women with preeclampsia, these blood vessels do not function properly. This is because they are narrower than normal blood vessels and limit the amount of blood that can flow through them. If insufficient blood gets to the placenta, this means that the baby gets less oxygen and nutrients and this can result in a low birth weight or an unhealthy baby. If detected and treated early, most women can still carry the baby to full term and deliver a healthy baby.

If left untreated, preeclampsia can lead to the following complications:

  • Eclampsia–  A critical form of preeclampsia that causes seizures in the mother.
  • HELLP Syndrome (hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelet count)- This affects the breakdown of red blood cells and liver function
  • Fetal growth restriction- Pre-eclampsia affects the arteries carrying blood to the placenta, leading to fetal growth restriction, low birth weight or pre-mature birth.
  • Placental abruption- The placenta`s separation from the inner wall of the uterus before delivery. This abruption can cause heavy bleeding and can be life-threatening for the mother and baby.
  • Liver or renal failure
  • Cardiovascular problems

Pre-eclampsia treatment:

  • Regular prenatal checks.
  • Less salt in meals
  • Constant feet elevation
  • Alcohol avoidance
  • Avoid drinking caffeine beverages
  • Drink at least 8 glasses of water daily
  • Incorporate more protein into your diet
  • Exercise
  • Sufficient rest


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