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Pregnancy is a woman’s natural human experience, but risks need medical attention for a successful and healthy childbirth. About halfway through a pregnancy, a woman may get shocking news from the doctor diagnosing her with preeclampsia. Just hearing the word preeclampsia can overwhelm an expectant mother with fear and anxiety for her and her child’s health.

What is Preeclampsia?

Preeclampsia usually develops around the 20th week of pregnancy, when a medical professional detects high protein levels in the pregnant woman’s urine, along with a spike in her blood pressure, which are symptoms.

Preeclampsia is a severe blood pressure condition that can be dangerous for a pregnant mother and her unborn child. A medical assessment is critical for the protection of mother and child.

A woman with preeclampsia has a blood pressure higher than 140/90. The protein in her urine is a sign of kidney dysfunction. The condition puts a great deal of stress on the patient’s organs and can cause complications in the pregnancy.

Untreated, preeclampsia can affect the blood supply to the expectant mother’s placenta and cause fluid build-up in her lungs due to liver and kidney dysfunction.

Who is at Risk of Getting Preeclampsia?

Preeclampsia affects approximately 1 in 25  pregnancies in the United States. Any delivery before 37 weeks is considered premature.

Medical professionals are not sure why some women develop preeclampsia. Still, there are higher risk factors that may contribute to the condition.

Some of the risk factors include:

● First-time pregnancies

● Obesity

● History of high blood pressure, kidney disease, or diabetes

● Family history

● Expecting more than one baby

Symptoms of Preeclampsia

Many expectant mothers have no symptoms of preeclampsia before being diagnosed by their medical professional. Some women may experience:

● Headaches

● Shortness of breath

● Vision issues like blurriness, light sensitivity, or dark spots

● Water retention

● Elevated blood pressure

● Abdominal pain on the right side

Treatment for Preeclampsia

Healthcare providers will advise their patients about the best preeclampsia treatment program depending on how far along the woman is in her pregnancy and the severity of symptoms.

If the woman is close to full term, the provider may suggest an early delivery, either by vaginally or by cesarean. If premature delivery is not an option, medication may help manage the mother’s blood pressure and assist with the baby’s development until the baby can be delivered.

If preeclampsia is diagnosed before 37 weeks of pregnancy, the provider will closely monitor the mother’s health to allow the fetus to grow and develop as long as possible. If the preeclampsia becomes more severe, the health care provider may need to deliver the baby early.

Reducing the Risks of Getting Preeclampsia

There is no cure for preeclampsia, but there are steps women at high risk can take to lower the chances of developing the condition. Some of these steps include:

● Eating healthy foods low in salt and high in Vitamins C, E, garlic, and fish oil

● Avoiding caffeine

● Maintaining routine exercise

● Getting enough sleep

Losing weight with their health care provider’s assistance

● Controlling their blood sugar

● Practicing stress-relieving meditation and breathing

Most women diagnosed with preeclampsia have a normal pregnancy with a healthy baby. Women must access prenatal care and go to all of their prenatal appointments.

When health care professionals are attentive and open to listening to expectant mothers who express their symptoms and concerns, the expectant mother can receive treatment for her condition to keep her and her baby safe.

Prenatal Care in Thousand Oaks Ventura County

For expectant mothers in Ventura County, please visit Dr. C at HERA Health Care to get a wellness check and plan of action if you find out you do have preeclampsia.