Preeclampsia In Pregnancy | Causes, Signs And Treatment
Recently Updated On: June 6th, 2018
Pre-Eclampsia In Pregnancy
Causes, Signs And Treatment
The news of your pregnancy is the most jubilant feeling you ever get in the world, no? But don’t you get jitters already when you hear of potential complications associated with pregnancy?
These complications put the lives of both mother and the baby in danger. One such grave complication is Preeclampsia in Pregnancy.
Preeclampsia is the most common complication that comes with high blood pressure and protein in the urine of the pregnant woman.
It becomes a serious concern when developed in a pregnant woman. A life-threatening disorder, preeclampsia in pregnancy has risks for the unborn baby and the mother.
What Is Preeclampsia In Pregnancy?
Let’s understand about preeclampsia in pregnancy in-depth.
Preeclampsia is a disorder that is most commonly found in women in the third trimester of pregnancy or after 20 weeks of their pregnancy.
Preeclampsia is marked with high blood pressure in the to-be mother. This is to note that this complication occurs in a woman whose blood pressure previously had been normal.
This complication gives rise to hypertension or high blood pressure and proteinuria or protein in the urine.
Although preeclampsia occurs after the 20th week of pregnancy, it may, rarely in some cases, also occur after the days following the delivery of the baby.
Apart from high blood pressure, swelling in the face, hands, and feet also accompanies preeclampsia.
Now any woman having a high blood pressure during pregnancy might not mean that she is facing the complication of preeclampsia
What Is Too High For Blood Pressure During Pregnancy?
So what exactly is too high blood pressure during pregnancy? A woman’s body goes through various changes when she gets pregnant.
This happens to accommodate the growing human in the body. During pregnancy it is very important that the woman has a normal blood pressure.
Now to understand first the normal blood pressure reading, let’s understand what blood pressure is.
Blood pressure is basically the force with which the blood of the body is pushed against the walls of the arteries.
The heart beats and pumps the blood in the arteries that carry the blood to the whole body. The blood in our body moves at a certain rate.
This normal rate may be affected due to certain factors that cause high or low blood pressure in the body.
This is to say that when there is an increase in pressure in the arteries, it gives rise to high blood pressure and when there is a reduction in the pressure in arteries, it gives rise to low blood pressure.
The blood pressure reading is measured in fraction-systolic pressure over the diastolic pressure.
Systolic pressure is the pressure on arteries when the heart is beating and diastolic is the pressure when the heart is at rest.
The normal blood pressure has to be around 120/80 mm Hg. The blood pressure that ranges between 121/80 to 139/89 causes pre-hypertension in pregnancy.
The blood pressure that is above and equal to 140/90 mm Hg is a cause for concern and is too high during pregnancy.
Now you know that when your blood pressure reads between 121/80 to 139/89 it’s time for you to take quick actions.
What Causes Preeclampsia?
As of yet, there is not even a single factor that has been identified as the cause of preeclampsia. Doctors say that it may be due to the dysfunction of blood vessels in the placenta.
Nevertheless, the central focus here is the placenta. Preeclampsia has been described in two stages.
- Firstly, certain factors are produced in the placenta these are specific proteins or placental “debris”. These enter the maternal circulation.
- This produces the next stage which causes overt maternal disease high blood pressure, kidney, liver and coagulation abnormalities.
However, to simplify the above theory here is an explanation:
In the early stages of pregnancy new blood vessels develop in the body of the pregnant woman.
These gradually and efficiently evolve to send blood to the placenta for the nourishment of the baby.
In placenta When there is no proper development of the vessels the blood doesn’t reach in the right amount and create placenta complications.
This causes abnormalities and complications in pregnancy. Other potential causes of preeclampsia are:
- Genetic factors
- Autoimmune disorders
- Being pregnant with multiple fetuses
- Being over the age of 35
- Being in the early teens.
- First pregnancy
These are the causes that give rise to preeclampsia in pregnancy.
Can Stress Cause Preeclampsia?
While stress, anxiety, and nervousness are the common factors that accompany preeclampsia in pregnancy, it might be puzzling to ascertain if stress can cause preeclampsia.
Well, with the amount of high stress, tensions and anxieties during pregnancy a woman’s condition can worsen.
With great stress comes a headache, hypertension and in turn high blood pressure. This may affect the pregnancy condition of a woman and may give rise to preeclampsia.
Therefore, it is highly advisable to take care of your mental well-being when pregnant because it’s not just about you now but also about the baby within you.
It is extremely important to have a note of the symptoms that accompany preeclampsia.
This can save the potential dangers from you and your baby and you can opt for treatment on time. Given below are the preeclampsia signs and symptoms:
- Swelling of the face, hands, and feet
- Abdominal pain
- Persistent Headaches
- Vomiting and nausea
- Sudden weight gain
- Changes in your vision
- Blood pressure range of 140/90 mm Hg or higher.
- Protein in urine
- Lower back pain.
Whenever you see these signs and symptoms that might not necessarily mean that you have preeclampsia.
However, it is always better to take prevention than cure and be assured that you and your baby are absolutely fine and consult the doctor immediately.
Signs Of Preeclampsia At 32 Weeks
While the signs and symptoms of preeclampsia are generally observed after the 20th week of pregnancy, the condition is termed early onset preeclampsia when diagnosed at or before 32 weeks of pregnancy.
The progressive symptoms or signs of preeclampsia at 32 weeks remain more or less the same:
- Severe headaches
- High blood pressure levels.
- Lower back pain
- Dizziness and feeling too unwell.
- Pain in the stomach
- Fluid in the lungs
- Changes in the fetal heart rate that show distress.
With these symptoms at 32 weeks of pregnancy, the preeclampsia is treated severe and the doctor may advise immediate delivery.
However, to induce labor the doctor might wait for another two days in order for the baby’s lungs to strengthen.
When the above-mentioned symptoms of preeclampsia are evident enough, preeclampsia diagnosis is the next step.
High blood pressure is not the only criteria that can be taken into consideration for diagnosis of preeclampsia.
Also, a woman might have preeclampsia in pregnancy but not enough protein levels in urine for that matter. However, a single blood pressure reading may not significantly indicate it to be a sign of preeclampsia.
Four hours after the first blood pressure reading is done and if in this reading the blood pressure levels are abnormal then this may confirm your chances of having preeclampsia.
Blood pressure ranges 140/90 mm Hg after 20 weeks of gestation in a woman shall be taken as a factor leading to preeclampsia.
proteinuria 0.3 g or more of protein in a 24-hour urine collection shall be taken as a factor leading to preeclampsia.
The doctor after his suspicion of preeclampsia may suggest some tests to analyze better:
- Blood tests, to count platelets.
- Liver and kidney function tests
- Urine analysis
- Fetal ultrasound
After proper preeclampsia diagnosis and laboratory analysis, the doctor confirms or rejects the chances of preeclampsia in pregnancy and further guides for treatment.
Once it has been diagnosed there is no straight way to prevent or make this disorder go away completely. However, to prevent it from occurring anyway, there are a few things out that to be mothers should do.
- If obesity, lose your weight and maintain a healthy weight. Essentially, a healthy body will deliver a healthy baby. As a to be a mother, you must get a healthy body weight by having nutritious food. Obesity or dieting during your pregnancy is a strict no-no.
- Most women prevent exercising or involving in any physical activity due to the myth that they might harm their baby.
But the fact is that a good exercise is a must for a healthy delivery and vital to prevent preeclampsia during pregnancy. You should do exercise under a strict guidance. For maintaining an ideal blood pressure during pregnancy, appropriate exercise is a must.
- Eliminate salty foods or high sodium foods from your diet. This causes high blood pressure again giving rise to preeclampsia. Include nutrient-rich foods in your diet and primarily potassium.
Potassium in foods is an essential mineral that fights high blood pressure and keeps you secure in pregnancy of any complication associated with high BP.
- Keep out of any activity that gives you stress. Stress is severely harmful to you during the time of your pregnancy.
- Stay hydrated. Drink enough water and limit your caffeine or alcoholic intake.
- Prevent fatigue and take enough rest and sleep. It is necessary not only for you but also for the life inside you.
- Last but not the least, don’t forget to visit your doctor regularly. Your doctor will do your regular tests to see if there are any potential threats to your pregnancy.
It is advisable to have regular prenatal visits and have your urine and blood pressure under check.
It is not a difficult task to prevent any complication. After all, prevention is better than cure.
As frightening as it sounds, there is no cure for preeclampsia other than delivery. But this entirely depends on your due date. Let’s look at some points on how preeclampsia in pregnancy is treated.
- Mild preeclampsia: When you undergo a mild preeclampsia, the doctor may not tell you for the delivery. He will recommend you for several prenatal visits and tests like blood tests, non-stress tests, and urine samples.
Under mild preeclampsia, doctors also recommend enough bed-rest and sleep. You will be required to take more protein diet and at least 8 glasses of water per day.
In mild preeclampsia, doctors generally do not go for delivery because the baby is not fully developed and this may create problems for the baby. Hence, under mild complications, delivery will not be the cure.
- Severe preeclampsia: Under severe preeclampsia, your due date is a major consideration. If you are near to you due date, delivery is the cure.
The doctor may recommend inducing labor if you are the 37th week or more of pregnancy. At this juncture, the baby is a little premature but delivery would be a safer option than to wait.
However, if the doctor observes that the baby’s lungs are not fully developed, he may put you on steroids for faster development of baby’s lungs and wait for another 48 hours before delivery.
Otherwise, the doctor may also give intravenous (IV) medications to lower your blood pressure.
Pregnancy has to be easy and stress-free, free from all such complications and issues. As an expectant mother, you desire to have a healthy baby.
Above, we have tried to resolve all your apprehensions regarding the complicated disorder of preeclampsia. You must, for a problem-free pregnancy, take all necessary care and lead a blissful joyous phase of being a mother. Happy motherhood!