What is preeclampsia?

Preeclampsia is a hypertensive disorder characterized by hypertension and proteinuria. Hypertension is based on two or more readings of ≥140/90 mm Hg or a significant difference compared to your normal reading. Proteinuria is excess protein excretion in the urine. It is diagnosed by a dipstick reading of 1+ or greater; or 300 mg in a 24 hour collection period.

How will it affect me and my baby?

PE can affect the both you and your child. Preeclampsia can lead to more complications like HELLP or eclampsia for the mother. PE can affect the heart, brain, liver and kidneys. In some untreated cases, preeclampsia may lead to a stroke or even death. The risks for the baby include premature birth before 37 weeks gestation, low birth weight, developmental retardation, still birth and respiratory distress syndrome. In some cases the placenta may seperate from the uterus.

How will I know if I have preeclampsia?

Preeclampsia is diagnosed by your GP or OB/GYN. You will have your blood pressure taken on seperate occasions and a urine sample will be collected for testing. Blood samples will be needed to taken to test how it has progressed. Physical signs you might notice: excessive weight gain of 0.9 kg per week, excessive swelling (edema), persistant headaches, change in vision and upper abdominal pain. Weight gain and edema are normal in pregnancy. It may indicate PE when it is excessive.

What should I do when I have preeclampsia?

You should talk with your nurse or doctor about your situation. Living with preeclampsia means you have to be more cautious and aware of your body. Exercise and diet are the most important in controlling PE. You need to make sure you have a balanced diet that is full of nutrients for you and your baby. Your diet should be low in sugars and salt.

What should I ask from my health care provider?

Ask your doctor the right questions, and write down any questions you may have before your appointment to ensure you won't forget any while you are there. Don't be afraid to ask anything. This is your pregnancy, ask away. At any point during your pregnancy if you have concerns don't hesitate to call your health care provider.