Friday, July 29, 2005
Thursday, July 28, 2005
Preeclampsia is also known as toxemia or pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH). No matter what you call it, its cause is unknown, though genetics play some role, and it causes the placenta to get too little blood. This is often because the placenta is overtaxed by multiple babies or because the arteries in your womb did not enlarge as they should during the first half of your pregnancy. Preeclampsia generally shows up after the 20th week and before the 27th week, but it doesn't show up that often, thank goodness! Fewer than nine percent of pregnancies are touched by it, but every caregiver is very careful to watch for it and to catch it early.
Your prenatal appointments include a check of your blood pressure, weight, and urine sample so that your caregiver can identify preeclampsia if it is present. Pain under your ribs on the right side, sudden and severe headaches, spots appearing before your eyes, swollen hands and face, and rapid weight gains caused by swelling, are all symptoms of preeclampsia. High blood pressure and protein in your urine provide evidence of preeclampsia, and let your caregiver know that the two of you need to take steps to fight it. If you have a mild case of preeclampsia, your caregiver will probably diagnose bedrest and plenty of fluids as if you had a cold or flu.
Resting on your side helps your kidneys function as efficiently as they can and allows blood to flow more freely to your placenta. You and your baby will be monitored closely while you rest. You can count on frequent blood pressure, blood, and urine tests twice a week on average. If your preeclampsia is diagnosed as being more severe, you will probably be spending your time in bed in the hospital as well.
Some moms-to-be get magnesium sulfate delivered to them intravenously to increase uterine blood flow and to prevent seizures, or eclampsia. Non-stress tests, contraction stress tests, or biophysical profiles may be performed to check on your baby. Ultrasound exams will measure the amount of amniotic fluid your baby has at his or her disposal. If that level falls too low, or if your caregiver has any other reason to suspect that your baby isn't getting an adequate blood supply, they will induce labor or perform a cesarean section as soon as your baby's lungs are mature enough.
They do so in order to prevent your baby's distress or growth retardation, caused by a shortage of nutrients and oxygen. Even if your baby's lungs are not fully developed, your doctor may choose to induce labor if your health is at risk due to kidney or liver damage, bleeding problems, or seizures. No matter how mild or severe your preeclampsia is, your pregnancy will probably not go beyond the 40 week mark without your doctor inducing labor in order to reduce any risk to your baby's health and strength.
After your baby is delivered safe and sound, your blood pressure will probably return to normal within the next few days or weeks, with or without medication. Moms carrying multiple babies and moms with diabetes, chronic high blood pressure, kidney disease, lupus, hypertension, or a family history of preeclampsia, or any condition their caregiver advises them increases their chances of contracting it, often take a baby aspirin each day of their pregnancy as a preventive measure.
It's not yet known how effective this is, but what is known is that early diagnosis and care lead to great outcomes for both mother and child.