I’ve Heard of Preeclampsia But I Don’t Know What It Means!


The medical term “preeclampsia” isn’t as well known of a term as others like obesity, anemia and hypertension so if you’ve been diagnosed with it, it can seem very foreign sounding! Preeclampsia means that:

  1. you are greater than 20 weeks pregnant,
  2. your blood pressure has been >140/90 on more than one occasion, and
  3. you have protein in your urine (measured as >300mg protein on a 24 hour urine collection).

There’s no clear cause but there are some significant related risk factors such as maternal hypertension, diabetes, thyroid dysfunction, autoimmune disorders and kidney problems. Depending on the severity, some mothers may not have very prominent symptoms but others may notice new blurry vision, headaches that won’t go away and a pain in their stomach, specifically the right upper region. Unfortunately the only true cure for preeclampsia is delivery of the baby. There is a fine balance between weighing the risks and benefits of either keeping the baby in utero (to prevent prematurity) vs. delivering the baby early (to prevent risks to the mother). Many physicians will want to monitor you more closely and may have you come in more frequently for a “non stress test”, while still routinely checking blood pressures and urine samples. During delivery, sometimes the physician will administer a medication called Magnesium Sulfate to prevent the development of preeclampsia into ecclampsia. What is ecclampsia? This is the development of seizures due to untreated preeclampsia. Most often moms return to normal blood pressure after delivery but on occasion, moms may have seizures even after delivery. To prevent complications during the pregnancy, delivery and post partum it is of utmost importance to listen to both your body and your doctor in keeping close management of this condition!

Please feel free to talk to your provider if you have any further questions!

Posted by Jessica Heaven.