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Are you pre-eclamptic?

Published:Monday | May 6, 2019 | 12:09 AMJessica Harrison - Lifestyle Writer

Pre-eclampsia, formerly known as toxemia, is a condition developed during pregnancy which, unfortunately, affects 5-8 per cent of pregnancies. It is categorised by high blood pressure in women who haven’t had high blood pressure before. While high blood pressure during pregnancy does not necessarily indicate pre-eclampsia, it may be a sign of another problem.

According to Dr Ivan Rawl Williams, when an expectant mother goes to each prenatal check-up, the practitioner will check your blood pressure, urine levels, and may order blood tests which may show if you have pre-eclampsia, to ensure that you and your baby is in tip-top shape. Pre-eclampsia can affect your unborn child negatively as it can prevent the placenta from getting enough blood. If this is the case, your baby will subsequently get less food and less oxygen, which can result in your bundle of joy having a low birthweight. It is very possible to deliver a healthy baby if pre-eclampsia is detected early and treated with regular prenatal care.

So what are the symptoms?

Pre-eclampsia can be put in two categories, mild and severe. Here are some symptoms that may occur:

Mild pre-eclampsia: High blood pressure, water retention, and protein in the urine.

Severe pre-eclampsia: Headaches, blurred vision, inability to tolerate bright light, fatigue, nausea/vomiting, urinating small amounts, pain in the upper right abdomen, shortness of breath, and tendency to bruise easily.

How can you prevent it?

Research around pre-eclampsia has proven futile with regards to prevention, but some precautionary measures can be taken in order to avoid pre-eclampsia. Dr Williams made a few suggestions. By using little to no salt in your meals, drinking lots of water and eating healthy foods you can kick-start your fight with pre-eclampsia. Caffeine, alcoholic beverages and stress willshoot you into pre-eclampsia, so be sure to get enough rest, avoid junk foods and elevate your feet several times throughout the day.

Are you at risk?

If you are an under 20 or over 40 years, overweight first-time mom, carrying multiple babies with a family history of pre-eclampsia, you are at risk. You are also predisposed if you had high blood pressure or kidney disease prior to becoming pregnant.

Specifically moms

If pre-eclampsia goes unnoticed and isn’t treated quickly and properly, Dr Williams explained that it can lead to serious complications such as renal or liver failure, along with future cardiovascular situations. It may also lead life-threatening conditions such as eclampsia, which is a severe form of pre-eclampsia that leads to seizures in the mother and ‘HELLP syndrome’, which is a condition which occurs in late pregnancy that affects the breakdown of red blood cells and liver functions.

Can you be cured?

The only cure for pre-eclampsia is delivery, and even then, pre-eclampsia can last up to six weeks after delivery. Be sure to trust and follow your doctor’s guidance in order to maintain a happy and healthy life for you and your baby.