Joy Ehonwa shares 15 things you should know about pre-eclampsia
A smooth pregnancy, free of complications, is what many people pray for.
However, life happens sometimes, and it’s in the best interest of mum, dad and baby to be aware of possible complications in pregnancy, and how they can be avoided.
7 years ago, Joy Ehonwa dealt with pre-eclampsia while carrying her baby. Before she got pregnant, she had no idea what pre-eclampsia was, or that a person could develop high blood pressure in pregnancy without any history of hypertension. By the time she had overcome pre-eclampsia, she knew more about it than she could ever have imagined.
In a series of twitter posts, Joy shares 15 things that we should know about pre-eclampsia and how to manage it.
Here are just a few things every expecting parent should know about pre-eclampsia:
Pre-eclampsia is the most common complication that can occur in a pregnancy, affecting 1 in every 20 pregnancies.
It usually develops in the 3rd trimester, and is a leading cause of maternal mortality.
Pre-eclampsia is a disorder of pregnancy characterized in the early stages by high blood pressure and protein in the urine, and in later stages by swelling (usually in the hands, face and feet), blurry vision, vomiting, and weakness.
If untreated or not well managed, it can develop into eclampsia, where a pregnant woman goes into a coma, and sometimes loses her life.
In treating pre-eclampsia, managing the high blood pressure is key, so anti-hypertensive medication is usually prescribed.
Two sets of people are most at risk of pre-eclampsia: first time mothers, and mothers carrying more than one baby.
Pre-eclampsia affects the unborn baby. In fact, the main effect is poor growth of the foetus, because the blood supply to the placenta is restricted.
Pre-eclampsia can have some long-term consequences for the developing baby. High blood pressure in pregnant women may affect your child’s thinking skills for years. Also, pre-eclampsia often leads to preterm delivery, which has its own risks.
Attending your antenatal classes REGULARLY will help your doctors and nurses detect pre-eclampsia early, as your urine will always be tested and your blood pressure checked.
If you have already developed pre-eclampsia, the best thing you can do after your doctor has prescribed medication and a healthy diet for you, is to REST.
Sometimes doctors insist on keeping the patient admitted and on complete bed rest if the BP is getting dangerously high; this means she isn’t even allowed to walk around. She’s cleaned up in bed, and if she needs to urinate, she calls for a bedpan.
The exact causes of pre-eclampsia are not known, but low dose aspirin given to women at risk of pre-eclampsia has been shown to help.
Dads also have a role to play. During and after pre-eclampsia, a mum may be weak, moody or weepy. Her partner’s patient support is needed most at this time, and a present father will do the new infant a world of good.
A mum with pre-eclampsia may go into spontaneous preterm labour like I did (Bobo was tired of the hostile environment in there and God helped him or her doctor may decide to bring the baby out before term, to save both lives.
Eventually the blood pressure becomes normal after delivery, even though she will still need to take the medication for a while. The exact causes of pre-eclampsia and eclampsia are not yet known.