Here is everything you need to know if you get diagnosed with preeclampsia (from the perspective of a mother who had preeclampsia twice).
Preeclampsia is not one of the first thing that comes to mind when you think about pregnancy. Some people do not even know what it is.
Although some people are at more of a risk of getting Preeclampsia than others, you should prepare yourself ahead of time just in case.
The disease can affect pregnant women that have had normal blood pressure throughout their pregnancy. Preeclampsia can also come on fast and very aggressively. So educate yourself ahead of time, or share this with someone you know that is pregnant.
There is a lot of information to share here, so save this post so you can refer back to it!
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So What Is Preeclampsia?
Preeclampsia is a pregnancy complication that causes high blood pressure and protein in the urine.
It usually doesn’t come about until the second half of the pregnancy.
The disease can be very dangerous if it is not monitored correctly. It can cause damage to the liver and kidneys. It also affects the central nervous system, and in severe causes, it can cause brain damage.
It can also cause complications for the baby and placenta, because preeclampsia can impact the blood flow to the placenta. Many babies that are born to mothers that have preeclampsia, are born with low birth weights.
Treatments For Preeclampsia
The only way to treat Preeclampsia is to deliver the baby. Symptoms can still persist throughout labor, delivery, and even many weeks after the baby is born.
Preeclampsia is not always the same for everyone. It can range from mild to severe. The symptoms can start out mild and increase with time.
Preeclampsia Is Scary
There is no sugar coating this part. Getting diagnosed with any disease can be scary, especially when you are carry another life inside of you.
There is not treatment, which makes Preeclampsia that much scarier. If you get diagnosed earlier in your pregnancy, you will probably spend many weeks being worried about what will happen.
During both of my pregnancies, I was diagnosed with preeclampsia before 30 weeks (the first at 28 weeks, the second at 25 weeks). I was worried the entire time, but this didn’t do anything for me, besides cause my blood pressure to rise even more.
The good news is that every time you give a urine sample, you get tested for Preeclampsia. Your doctor will probably be able to diagnose you before any serious damage can be done.
Also, if you have Preeclampsia you will become a high risk patient, and will be monitored constantly. Everyone will have eyes on you and the baby! So try your best not to worry.
Pregnancy With Preeclampsia
Related: Dad’s Ultimate Guide To Pregnancy
You Will Have A Lot Of Appointments
Because Preeclampsia is so serious, your doctor will want to monitor you around the clock.
You will most likely have a regular doctor appointment every week, along with a separate appointment with a high risk doctor.
To monitor the baby, you will have at least two NST tests every week, along with a growth and development ultrasound.
If you do the math, that is about five appointments a week. Which can be very difficult to fit into any schedule.
During my first pregnancy, I was working full time, and it was almost impossible to fit all of those appointments into my schedule every week.
The good news is that you can usually schedule some of the appointments back to back on one day. For example, you could have your regular doctors appointment, followed by an NST, followed by the ultrasound.
Either way, you will be spending a lot of time at your doctors office or hospital for monitoring.
You Will Have To Monitor Yourself At Home
As soon as you are diagnosed, your doctor will recommend that you get yourself an at home blood pressure cuff.
You will need to constantly monitor your blood pressure to make sure it doesn’t go too high.
Have your blood pressure readings organized by date and time to share with your doctor at every visit.
You Will Be Very Familiar With The Hospital
If your blood pressure does spike, or if you have a headache, abdominal pain, or trouble breathing, you will probably get sent to the hospital.
Preeclampsia can cause a high risk for seizure and stroke, and your doctor will not want to take any risks. If anything seems abnormal to them, they will send you straight to the hospital.
You will be monitored for hours, sometimes even days, before they let you go home (if they let you go home).
During my first pregnancy, I was sent to the hospital seven times due to Preeclampsia scares. The second time around I was sent to the hospital four times due to Preeclampsia scares.
Expect To Have Your Blood Drawn A Lot
At all of these doctor appointments and hospital visits, you will get poked for blood A LOT!
Your blood work will monitor your liver and kidney function. If your kidney and liver are not functioning properly, then you will be diagnosed with severe Preeclampsia.
This is something your doctors will want to keep a very close eye on.
Get Excited For 24 Urine Collections
Does peeing in a jug and storing it in the fridge sound like fun to you? Yeah, me either, but you will have to do a 24 hour urine collection at least once (if you are lucky). You might end up having to do them every week.
As I am sure you know, you pee a lot during pregnancy. Getting up to get your jug out of the fridge every time you have to go to the bathroom is a real pain in the butt.
Once you drop off your urine collection at the lab, they will test your urine for the protein count. This will give doctors an idea of how severe the Preeclampsia is.
You Could Be Put On Bed Rest
If you have more than one symptom of Preeclampsia earlier on in your pregnancy you could be put on bed rest for the remainder of your pregnancy.
If it is too early in your pregnancy to induce labor, you will need to be able to keep your blood pressure down, so bed rest is the best option.
You Could Be Induced
Most doctors will try and get you to 37 weeks pregnant before inducing labor. However, if your health is at risk, they could induce labor even sooner than 37 weeks.
Since the only treatment for Preeclampsia is to delivery the baby, there is a good chance that once you reach 37 weeks the doctor will want to induce you.
I was induced for both of my pregnancies. The first time, I was induced right before the 36 week mark, and the second time I was induced at 37 weeks.
Labor With Preeclampsia
Whether you go into a natural labor or are induced, delivering a baby while having Preeclampsia can be dangerous.
Contractions and pushing out a baby can be very strenuous on the body, naturally causing your blood pressure to rise. So if you already have high blood pressure, labor and delivery can cause it to rise even more.
You will be under constant supervision and monitoring.
You Could Be Put On Magnesium
If your central nervous system is overactive, they will need to slow it down for labor and delivery, for your safety. Magnesium causes your central nervous system to slow down, which will be constantly given in an IV drip.
When you are on magnesium, you will not be able to stand up, so your entire labor will be spent in bed.
This means you will have to have a catheter, and leg massagers to prevent blood clots.
If you are put on magnesium, you will have to be on it for 24 hours after your delivery. This means you still cannot get out of bed after you deliver the baby.
You cannot get up to shower, you won’t be allow to eat solid food, and the worst part of all- you cannot hold your baby unless someone is standing next you.
I was only put on magnesium during my first labor and delivery. I was in labor for 36 hours. Which means I was on magnesium for 60 hours!
It was miserable, but in the end, my beautiful son was born, and it was all worth it!
The magnesium slows down your central nervous system, which makes you feel like you took sleeping medication. Pushing a baby out is exhausted enough as it it, but add magnesium, and it feels almost impossible.
During my delivery when I was on magnesium, I pushed for 45 minutes, and fell asleep between every push.
Magnesium And The Baby
The magnesium will not only affect you, but also the baby. When the baby is born, they might be very lethargic. Most babies that are born on magnesium will not even cry, which can be very scary for a new mom.
The good news is that there will be a Neonatologist in the delivery to look after your baby immediately.
However, this also means that the Neonatologist will take your baby as soon as they are born, even before you get the chance to hold them.
As upsetting as this can be, just remember it is for your baby’s safety. As soon as your baby get cleared, you can hold them right away.
You Will Get A High Risk Room
If you have Preeclampsia, you are considered a high risk pregnancy. You will be put in a room right by the nurses station, where nurses and doctors can get to you as quickly as possible.
The good news is these rooms are usually bigger than the rest of the labor and delivery rooms in the hospital.
Constant Blood Pressure Checks
Because Preeclampsia causes your blood pressure to rise, they will check it around the clock.
As soon as you are admitted, they will put a blood pressure cuff on you, and set it to go off every so often. You will not be able to take the cuff off during your entire labor.
Not only will you have monitors strapped all around your belly and an IV in one arm, but you will have a blood pressure cuff strapped to your other arm. You will not be able to move around a lot, and if you do, you will constantly get tangled up in cords.
The Nurse Will Be Your Best Friend
I said it a few times, and I will say it again, you will constantly be monitored. They will not leave you alone the entire time you are at the hospital.
During your labor there will be a nurse in your room 24 hours out of the day. I personally enjoyed this part.
If something was bothering me or if I had a question, someone was there for me to ask right away. It made labor much easier knowing a trained professional was there to help me through it.
During my first labor and delivery, my nurse held my hand, rubbed my back, and coached me through my entire labor. I honestly do not think I would have been able to do it without her.
You Will Have A Longer Stay
The symptoms of Preeclampsia lasts during labor and delivery and can even after you delivery the baby.
Even if your symptoms go away right after delivery, they will keep you for an extra day to make sure you are healthy enough to go home.
After A Delivery With Preeclampsia
You are still at risk of having symptoms of preeclampsia after you delivery your baby.
More Postpartum Appointments
If you had preeclampsia during your delivery, you doctor will want to follow up with you a few days after delivery.
If you have any symptoms, even slightly elevated blood pressure, they will want you to come into the office for blood pressure checks every couple of days.
In addition to this, the doctor will recommend that you monitor you own blood pressure at home a couple times a day.
After a few weeks, if your blood pressure is still elevated at all, your doctor will try and prescribe you blood pressure medication.
You are at a higher risk for getting preeclampsia in future pregnancies if you have had preeclampsia in the past.
In any future pregnancies, your doctor will monitor you very closely from the very beginning. Your doctor might even recommend seeing a high risk doctor from the beginning of any future pregnancies.
Preeclampsia can be a very scary thing to deal with. Just remember that you have doctors whose only job is to keep you and your baby safe. Listen to what they recommend.
Although having preeclampsia is rare, many people do deal with this disease. I mean, I had preeclampsia twice, and here I am healthy as ever, sharing my story with you.
Keep it up, you are doing great mama! 😀
If this story was helpful, please share it! Or tell me your experience in the comments, I would love to hear it!
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