Tuesday, April 26, 2016

May is Preeclampsia Awareness Month

I'm absolutely swamped (it's finals time, in addition to everything else going on), but I wanted to take a minute to share some information on Preeclampsia.

I had gestational induced hypertension with my third pregnancy, it was incredibly scary, and hard to control. May is Pre-e awareness month, and hopefully in four days we can continue having important conversations about this condition that can save lives.

If you are pregnant, know the symptoms (via http://www.preeclampsia.org/ )

  • *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 such as acetaminophen
  • *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 women 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 women with preeclampsia have NO symptoms or they "just don’t feel right." If you have a sense that something's wrong, even without symptoms, trust yourself and contact your healthcare provider immediately.

I will add a couple of things to this discussion- 1. this is a medical problem. It is NOT your fault. It is not your failing. This is especially important to talk about with plus sized women, because while being larger can increase your rate of complications THIS IS STILL NOT YOUR FAULT. It's a disease, it doesn't discriminate, and it didn't target you. I know smaller women who have had terrible bouts with this, and larger ones who have never encountered this monster, and everything in between

The important thing is that you get the treatment you need. Start your prenatal care early, before you are pregnant if you can. Your best tool will be your relationship with a trusted and knowledgeable care provider, and the longer they have a baseline on you, the better they can pick up abnormalities when they arise. You may need extra care even beyond delivery, some women have a blood pressure spike afterwards (I did) and it raises our risk of heart disease and general high blood pressure in our everyday lives after pregnancy and birth. It took about 5 months for my bp to return to 120/80, which is still not great, but it beats the heck out of 140/90, which is where it sat after delivery for a long, long time. 
Viability milestone with my last baby-at 28 weeks,
I'd have a cardiac event and then raised blood pressure for the rest of my pregnancy. 
For anyone who is going through this, or who has, my <3 to you. It's a difficult road, and it needs to be part of our conversation about pregnancy due to how often it occurs and how dangerous it can be. 

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