Understanding Preeclampsia Signs and Symptoms
*This is a story share of facts and experience with preeclampsia. This is NOT medical advice and if you suspect you are suffering from preeclampsia, inform your care team, Obstetrician-Gynecologist, or Maternal-Fetal Medicine doctor. *
I struggled with high blood pressure for years due to my kidney failure so I knew I would be predisposed to preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is persistently high blood pressure during pregnancy and/ or postpartum. I was already on blood pressure medicine called Lisinopril daily before pregnancy and it is NOT TO BE TAKEN during pregnancy. I stopped taking lisinopril right away and went through a few more meds until my team gave me labetalol. Labetalol was really helpful with maintaining my blood pressure in addition to being on dialysis. But as my pregnancy progressed I noticed my blood pressure was continuing to rise even with the interventions I had in place. I remember the day like it was yesterday. I had just turned 27 weeks and I woke with a horrible headache and nausea. I was on the antepartum unit for the 5th week in a row and Sundays were the days I wanted visitors. That particular Sunday, everyone came to visit, but I could barely sit up or talk, even see anyone. I so nauseous that I couldn’t eat the whole day. I was afraid that was the day I was going to have to have my emergency c-section because I just felt awful. Turned out my preeclampsia was getting worse but the doctors were able to give me a very high dose of nifedipine to decrease my blood pressure and after about 12 hours of agony, I was so much better.
Here are 6 Signs & Symptoms of Preeclampsia.
1. Protein spillage in urine.
This is a major sign of preeclampsia and also kidney failure. This was actually how I found out I had kidney failure. Your doctor should be checking your urine sample at each lab appointment to check for protein as well as any other alarming signs of infection or organisms that can impact your pregnancy. Foamy urine is also a sign I personally experienced with protein in my urine.
2. Severe headaches.
These headaches make you stop in your tracks. When I had headaches from preeclampsia, it was impossible to keep my eyes open or even have a conversation with someone. I could not get anything done and honestly, nothing would cure the pain except for blood pressure medicine.
3. Change in Vision
A very serious symptom that can occur as an indication of swelling in the brain caused by extremely high blood pressure. Common vision changes can include light sensitivity, flashing lights, blurry vision, or spots.
4. Swelling in feet and ankles
Swelling during pregnancy is totally normal. Preeclampsia swelling is a bit different. Especially in your ankles, hands, and face you will feel a huge influx of extra fluid retained in these areas. My experience was extra fluid on my chest and ankles that made it difficult to walk or move around sometimes.
5. Persistent shortness of breath.
Shortness of breath, a racing pulse, mental confusion, a heightened sense of anxiety, and a sense of impending doom can be symptoms of preeclampsia. If these symptoms are new to you, they could indicate an elevated blood pressure, or more rarely, fluid collecting in your lungs (pulmonary edema).
6. High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure during pregnancy is one of the biggest red flags that preeclampsia may be developing. And even if it’s not a symptom of preeclampsia, it can still be a sign of a problem.
High blood pressure is traditionally defined as blood pressure of 140/90 or greater, measured on two separate occasions at least four hours apart. During pregnancy, a rise in the lower number (diastolic) of 15 degrees or more, or a rise in the upper number (systolic) of 30 degrees or more can also be a cause for concern.
If you have any of these symptoms or cause for concern, inform your doctor, doula, midwife, or any and every medical team member that supports you.
For more information visit http://www.preeclampsia.org