What is Preeclampsia?

I learned something new today… yesterday was World Preeclampsia Awareness Day! I wish I had known about it yesterday. This is a cause very dear to my heart and life. Both of my older sisters had preeclampsia in their pregnancies. My nieces were born about 4 weeks early because of it. I knew I was at a high risk, and was closely monitored throughout my pregnancies. I developed it in my first pregnancy at 29 weeks and had to give birth to my daughter via c-section that night as we were both in serious danger (you can read Lily’s amazing story here). My second pregnancy we made it to 35 weeks before running into problems again!

SO, WHAT IS PREECLAMPSIA?

According to the Preeclampsia Foundation Canada website (http://www.preeclampsiacanada.ca/) preeclampsia is:

“a disorder that occurs only during pregnancy and the postpartum period and affects both the mother and the unborn baby. It is a rapidly progressive condition characterized by high blood pressure and the presence of protein in the urine. Swelling, sudden weight gain, headaches and changes in vision are important symptoms; however, some women with rapidly advancing disease report few symptoms.

Typically, preeclampsia occurs after 20 weeks gestation (in the late 2nd or 3rd trimesters or middle to late pregnancy) and up to six weeks postpartum (after delivery), though in rare cases it can occur earlier than 20 weeks. Proper prenatal care is essential to diagnose and manage preeclampsia.”

I was one of the ones who had few symptoms. I had noticed some spots of light in my vision, but it wasn’t too bad. Knowing I had an appointment with my doctor coming up, I just waited. When we look at pictures from just before Lily’s birth, you can definitely see that I’m looking a little swollen. But that’s not something you really notice looking at yourself in the mirror day to day. Obviously, looking back, I probably should have gone in earlier, but hindsight is 20/20, right? Thankfully we have our 2 healthy, happy girls.

Lily in the NICU

SIGNS & SYMPTOMS

  • High blood pressure
  • Highs levels of protein in the urine
  • Very severe headaches
  • Blurring in vision (or any alteration)
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Upper right side abdominal pain
  • Sudden onset of swelling or weight gain
  • Less urination than usual

Here is a great graphic from the Preeclampsia Foundation Canada that goes into more detail.

If you want more information, or have any questions, please feel free to send me a message or drop a comment below and I’ll respond as soon as I can. There is a lot more information on the Preeclampsia Foundation Canada (http://www.preeclampsiacanada.ca/). You can also donate to some of their life-saving research.

Here is their mandate:

  • Educate, support and empower women – and their friends and loved ones – on the warning signs, long term consequences and medical understanding, including their need to get timely care.
  • Increase public awareness.
  • Fund research in Canada.

Here is what they do with monies donated (You can donate directly through this link)

 

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