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If you’ve been diagnosed with symptoms of preeclampsia, you may be wondering what will happen next.
Preeclampsia is a serious condition characterized by high blood pressure in the mother. This reduces blood flow through the placenta, which leads to a restriction of oxygen and nutrients to the fetus which may limit its development.
Pre-eclampsia has been described as a “theoretical disease” because no one really knows what causes it. Although there are several important research projects currently underway, the biology behind them is still not well understood. However, what is known is that this condition has its origins in the placenta. Like Dr. Al Bandar She told us, “The mechanism of the disease remains unclear and the only treatment, for now, is the delivery of the placenta and the baby, with potential for long-term complications.
Dr. Albender added: “Pre-eclampsia can lead to premature birth and, in extreme cases, can threaten the lives of mothers and their babies. If pre-eclampsia is not detected, preeclampsia can lead to pre-eclampsia, which is one of the top five causes of maternal and infant illnesses – including seizures and coma – the cause of 13% of maternal deaths globally.”
What happens if you are diagnosed with pre-eclampsia?
NICE guidelines recommend this Women with symptoms of preeclampsia should be hospitalized, Professor Nelson Percy explains. “And I certainly think that should always be the case.” However, some hospitals are of the opinion that women with mild symptoms of preeclampsia can continue at home with more frequent monitoring at daily assessment units.
Pre-eclampsia can become a life-threatening emergency very quickly. If you are in the hospital, you can rest assured knowing you are in good hands. Dr. Nouf Al Bandar Founder uterine effectAnd He told us, “Once you are in the hospital, you will be monitored very carefully. If you have a very serious complication such as placental abruption, you are in the right place.”
How long will I stay?
An extended stay in hospital, especially if you have other young children to look after, can be difficult, especially if you do not even feel unwell but it is important to heed your doctors’ advice.
Professor Catherine Nelson Percy, Consultant Obstetrician at Guys and St Thomas’ Hospitals Trust and Queen Charlotte and Chelsea Hospitals in London. She told us, “I tell my patients that from the moment pre-eclampsia is diagnosed, they will likely be delivered in two or three weeks,” explains Professor Nelson Percy. “However, it is sometimes possible, albeit unusual, for a woman to stay home for up to 10 weeks before she needs to give birth.”
What will happen in the hospital?
Once pre-eclampsia is diagnosed, what happens to you in the hospital will depend on how far along your pregnancy is. “If you are too late in your pregnancy, you will be taken to the hospital in order to deliver your baby,” explains Professor Nelson Percy. “If a woman reaches 37 – 38 weeks, there is no point in waiting after that because her baby has matured.”
At this point, the safest option for mother and baby is induction of labor.
If your pregnancy is less advanced, doctors will weigh the risks for you against the risks for your baby.
“As clinicians, we always prioritize the health of the mother,” explains Professor Nelson Percy. “If the mother is very ill, she will be advised to terminate the pregnancy regardless of the pregnancy. But if she is only 33 weeks, we will try to prolong the pregnancy a little bit longer because it will be much better for the baby.”
How will I be monitored during preeclampsia?
Once you are in the hospital, you and your baby will be monitored very carefully. You may be given high blood pressure medications to help lower your blood pressure and possibly medications to prevent seizures. You will usually be given blood pressure tablets.Professor Nelson Percy explains: “These do not control the actual disease, they only control blood pressure.”
In addition to continuous monitoring of blood pressure and changes in protein levels in the urine, blood tests will be done to look for signs of kidney or liver injury as a result of pre-eclampsia. You may also be given medication to prevent seizures and/or heparin to prevent blood clots.
How will my child be monitored?
Limited blood flow between you and the placenta can reduce the supply of oxygen and nutrients to your baby. This may mean that it does not continue to grow as expected.
Once pre-eclampsia is suspected or known, your baby will be closely monitored so that he can be born before any developmental problems become serious. Difficult decisions arise when serious problems of this kind develop in babies less than 28-30 weeks of age. Doctors then need to evaluate the baby’s chance of surviving outside the womb versus those if the pregnancy is allowed to continue.
“If you are less than 36 weeks of age, a steroid injection will be given to help ripen your baby’s lungs,” explains Professor Nelson Percy. “This is done on entry because it is not possible to predict exactly when your baby will need to be born.”
Once at the hospital, your baby’s heart rate will be checked regularly and an ultrasound used to check his growth and health.
What happens after birth?
For most women, childbirth reverses all the effects of pre-eclampsia. However, this improvement is sometimes preceded by a definitive crisis.
“Removal of the placenta eliminates the cause but not all of the effects,” explains Professor Nelson Percy. “So it’s not at all uncommon for a woman to get a little worse after giving birth before she eventually gets better.”
What postpartum tests will you need for pre-eclampsia?
“Women often take blood pressure pills when they are brought home,” explains Professor Nelson Percy. “Unless they have pre-existing high blood pressure, they will not need to take these medications 4-6 after delivery.”
You will also need more frequent blood pressure checks and will need to see your doctor for advice on reducing your dose.
Again, NICE recommends that anyone with preeclampsia be reviewed at 6 weeks to make sure the high blood pressure and protein in the urine are gone. They also need to be advised about their long-term risks.
Are there any long-term effects of preeclampsia?
After you’ve had pre-eclampsia, you’re at greater risk of developing high blood pressure and kidney disease later in life in the long run. You are also more at risk of recurrence in subsequent pregnancies.
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