Preeclampsia: what you need to know
May is preeclampsia awareness month. Being aware and alert to the early and subtle signs of preeclampsia will keep you and the baby healthy.
Some women who have had preeclampsia complications come to Forward Fertility in search of a gestational carrier. Some gestational carriers will go on to develop preeclampsia, even though they did not have it with their own pregnancies.
The important thing to know is that symptoms can sometimes seem ‘normal’. Having a headache, being short of breath, and some swelling CAN be a normal part of pregnancy. It is ALWAYS better to err on the side of caution and review any symptoms you are having with your health care provider.
What is preeclampsia? A condition of elevated blood pressure and other body changes that affects 2-5% of pregnant women.
When can it happen? Can begin as early as 20 weeks and through the 6-week postpartum period and most often occurs in the last month of pregnancy.
What symptoms should I look for? Intense headache, visual changes (seeing spots/floaters), swelling in hands or feet, stomach pain, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, shortness of breath.
What will my provider do if I go in for an evaluation? They will take your blood pressure and check your blood and urine for markers (i.e. elevated protein in your urine is a common finding).
Who is at risk for preeclampsia? Any pregnant woman can develop pre-eclampsia.
Major risk factors: Having preeclampsia previously, autoimmune diseases, twin (or more) pregnancy, pre-existing high blood pressure.
Less major risk factors: Age over 35 or under 20, first pregnancy, first pregnancy with a new sperm source (i.e. pregnancy as a gestational carrier), less than one year since last pregnancy, more than six years since last pregnancy, pregnancy achieved by assisted reproductive technology, obesity (BMI greater than 30), and family history of preeclampsia.
Three Action Items
- Know what to look for and contact your health care provider with any questions
- Ask your health care provider if your health history gives any reason for you to be taking aspirin during the pregnancy
- Continue to be aware of symptoms of preeclampsia up to 6 weeks postpartum
Looking for more resources? Visit preeclampsia.org. For more information and news about healthy surrogacy and how to become a gestational carrier to help a family grow, follow Forward Fertility on Facebook.