Robert A. Solomon, P.C.
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What is pre-eclampsia?

As an expectant New Jersey mother, the health and welfare of both you and your developing baby are likely your main concern. You therefore should begin making – and keeping – frequent appointments with your OB/GYN as soon as you discover that you are pregnant. (S)he needs to monitor the progress of your pregnancy and be on the lookout for any possible problems and/or complications. Pre-eclampsia is one of these complications.

Pre-eclampsia is a combination of hypertension, i.e., high blood pressure, and proteinuria, i.e., protein in your urine. There is virtually no way for you to know you have pre-eclampsia unless and until your doctor tests you for both of its components. That is one reason why (s)he takes your blood pressure at each of your appointments. (S)he likewise should frequently test your urine. Failure to do so, and therefore failure to diagnose pre-eclampsia, could result in further complications, some of which could threaten your life and that of your unborn baby.

Pre-eclampsia symptoms

Your first actual symptoms of pre-eclampsia likely will be sudden and substantial swelling in your hands, ankles, feet and face. This swelling is different than the normal relatively minor foot and ankle swelling that most women experience during their pregnancies. Pre-eclampsia swelling is considerably more noticeable and more severe. In addition, it may be accompanied by one or more of the following:

  • Blurry vision
  • “Seeing” flashing lights
  • Severe headaches
  • Shortness of breath
  • Vomiting (not the morning sickness kind)
  • Pain right below your ribs on your right side

You may also notice a decrease in your urine output and an unusually rapid weight gain.

Pre-eclampsia treatment

Pre-eclampsia has no cure; instead, it cures itself after the birth of your baby when your blood pressure begins going down on its own. Unfortunately, until then it gets worse the further your pregnancy progresses. About the only thing you can do is to stay off your feet as much as possible and rest – in bed – whenever you can. If it becomes too severe, you face the possibility of hospitalization with complete bed rest and constant monitoring of both you and your baby. You likely will need ongoing blood and urine tests and your baby likely will need a fetal ultrasound as well as a nonstress test.

If nothing “works” and the pre-eclampsia gets to the point where you and your baby are at risk of dying, your doctor will recommend either the induction of labor or a C-section, even if it means your baby will be born prematurely.

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