Unexpected events, like preeclampsia, can quickly change the course of a normal, healthy pregnancy. That's why the Preeclampsia Foundation is dedicated to providing education about preeclampsia and related hypertensive disorders of pregnancy. Preeclampsia is a serious disease related to high blood pressure. It can happen to any pregnant person during the second half of pregnancy or up to six weeks after giving birth. Finding preeclampsia early is important for parent and baby.
The more you know about preeclampsia, the more likely you are able to recognize and report symptoms to your care provider. This allows critical time for a diagnosis and evaluation, both of which are life-saving measures when it comes to preeclampsia.
Preeclampsia and other hypertensive disorders of pregnancy such as HELLP syndrome remain a leading cause of maternal and infant illness and death. Globally, by conservative estimates, these disorders are responsible for 76,000 maternal and 500,000 infant deaths every year. In the United States, preeclampsia affects one of every 12 pregnancies, and its incidence has increased by 25 percent over the past two decades.
7 Symptoms Every Pregnant Person Should Know
Early recognition and reporting of symptoms is the key to timely detection and management of preeclampsia. People who are pregnant or recently gave birth should contact their doctor or midwife right away if they experience any of the symptoms listed below. While the symptoms don't necessarily mean preeclampsia is certain, they are concerning and require medical evaluation.
- Swelling of the hands and face, especially around the eyes (swelling of the feet is more common in late pregnancy and probably not a sign of preeclampsia)
- Weight gain of more than five pounds in a week
- Headache that won't go away, even after taking medication for pain relief
- Changes in vision like seeing spots or flashing lights; partial or total loss of eyesight
- Nausea or throwing up, especially suddenly, after mid pregnancy (not the morning sickness that many experience in early pregnancy)
- Upper right belly pain, sometimes mistaken for indigestion or the flu
- Difficulty breathing, gasping, or panting
It's also important to know that some people with preeclampsia have NO symptoms, but rather they "just don't feel right." If you have a sense that something is wrong, even without symptoms, trust yourself and contact your midwife or OB immediately. Preeclampsia can only be diagnosed by monitoring blood pressure and protein in the urine (which may or may not be present to diagnose preeclampsia), both of which are done routinely during prenatal appointments-- one of the reasons why keeping all appointments throughout pregnancy and immediately after birth is important to you and your baby's health and well-being.
Learn more about symptoms to watch for with the Preeclampsia Foundation's "7 Symptoms" video.
For more preeclampsia information and support, visit www.preeclampsia.org.
About the Preeclampsia Foundation
A U.S.-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization established in 2000, the Preeclampsia Foundation is dedicated to providing patient support and education, raising public awareness, catalyzing research and improving health care practices, envisioning a world where preeclampsia and related hypertensive disorders of pregnancy no longer threaten the lives of mothers and babies. More information is available at www.preeclampsia.org or by calling toll-free 800.665.9341.
TagsPregnancy Postpartum Complications Preeclampsia Preeclampsia Foundation