The only people who get preeclampsia are women who are pregnant or have just delivered their baby. It’s a condition that can affect the entire body and the pregnancy. Signs of preeclampsia include hypertension (high blood pressure), as well as changes in urine protein levels. Many women also have noticeable symptoms such as swelling, rapid weight gain, headaches, nausea, and visual changes, but some women have no symptoms at all. Every time a pregnant woman goes for a prenatal visit, she gets her blood pressure taken, and her urine dipped to check for signs of preeclampsia. Research hasn’t determined the exact cause of preeclampsia, but we do understand risk factors for this condition, as well as how it affects a mother’s and baby’s health.
In short, what is preeclampsia?
Preeclampsia is a condition of pregnancy where women develop high blood pressure and other symptoms. It can be dangerous for a woman’s health, and for the health of the baby. Preeclampsia can affect women with baseline high blood pressure, as well as those who typically have normal or even low blood pressure. In the most severe cases, patients can develop seizures, which is called eclampsia, (which is how preeclampsia got its name). In other severe forms of preeclampsia, women can suffer from a stroke, bleeding, pre-term birth, or even still birth.
A mother who has preeclampsia, or might have preeclampsia, has a very high-risk pregnancy condition. She needs to be taken care of by someone who has expertise in that condition; it can be critically important for her health, and for the health of her baby.
When is it time to consider an evaluation by a Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist?
Patients with preeclampsia require very close monitoring for themselves and for their baby. Maternal Fetal Medicine specialists are trained in the diagnosis and management of high risk pregnancy conditions such as preeclampsia. If you have preeclampsia, or think you have preeclampsia, your doctor may refer you to a Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist for evaluation and treatment. This can either be done as a complete transfer of care, or for consultation and co-management. At Maternal Fetal Medicine Associates, we usually hospitalize patients with preeclampsia. Or, if they’re managed at home, out of work, and are at home at rest, they will visit the office several times a week. Once someone gets Preeclampsia, it can worse very quickly. Mothers have to be watched very closely by experienced physicians.
If a woman is diagnosed with preeclampsia, we will usually hospitalize her. We will watch her extremely close, including serial blood pressure monitoring and laboratory testing. We also do frequent fetal testing to assure the well-being of the baby. The tentative treatment plan is to deliver, as this is the only cure for preeclampsia. If a woman is diagnosed with Preeclampsia at the end of her pregnancy, it’s a pretty straightforward treatment plan. We either induce labor, or perform a C-section based on the circumstances. If she is preterm, then a careful consideration must be made to weight the risks of an ongoing pregnancy with the risks of prematurity.
If you have any questions, please contact us today.
Maternal Fetal Medicine blogs are intended for educational purposes only and do not replace certified professional care. Medical conditions vary and change frequently. Please ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding your condition to receive a proper diagnosis or risk analysis. Thank you!