To be honest, a little swelling is expected by women during the nine important months of the pregnancy. Naturally, women are so excited especially if they are expecting their first child. But have you ever asked yourself how far the swelling should go? Well, at times, the swelling may go beyond normal to an extent of affecting both the mother and the unborn baby.
If you have never heard of Toxemia, it actually happened to Beyonce. She was kind enough to admit to the Vogue that when she was pregnant with her twins Sir and Rumi, she suffered from Toxemia and her swell put her on a bed rest for more than one month.
She also acknowledged that the condition put her health and that of her babies in danger and opted to have an emergency C-section. She recalled that they spent many weeks in the NICU. For your information, Beyonce was talking about preeclampsia and not toxemia. If you are still confused about which is which, toxemia is an incorrect name which came by as a result of women having toxins in their blood. However, according to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), this theory was disproven.
All in all, whether you call it preeclampsia or toxemia, it’s a condition that should not be taken lightly by any woman cautious about her health as well as that of the unborn child. Are you still wondering what condition this is? If yes, let’s find out.
So what exactly is preeclampsia?
Toxemia, also known as preeclampsia is defined by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute as a health condition where pregnant women start experiencing a sudden rise in blood pressure after their 20th week of pregnancy. It is a grave condition for both the mother and the unborn child.
It’s a very common condition and according to the Preeclampsia Foundation, it affects nearly 5-8% of pregnancies. This statistic was confirmed by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists claiming that it’s one of the causes of maternal and perinatal mortality causing 50000 to 60000 deaths yearly.
According to National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), preeclampsia is mostly experienced during the first pregnancies but women who have been diagnosed with this condition before are likely to develop it in their consequent pregnancies. NICHD also confirms that it’s common in pregnancies from vitro fertilization (IVF) or egg donation. Preeclampsia is associated with various health conditions such as obesity, kidney disease, high blood pressure, and age with women aged 40 years and above at a higher risk. According to the U.S Preventive Services Task Force, women at a high risk of preeclampsia are recommended to consume low-dose aspirin from 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Symptoms of preeclampsia
High blood is a leading sign of preeclampsia with a reading of 140/90 as stated by Lakeisha Richardson, M.D from the Delta Medical Group Women’s Healthcare Clinic. Other signs are proteinuria (too much protein in the urine), blurred vision, headaches, swelling in the face, feet, and hands, and right upper quadrant abdominal pain.
Why is preeclampsia so dangerous?
Kelly Saunders who is an ob-gyn at the Banner University Medicine Women’s Institute explains that women with preeclampsia are at a high risk of suffering from kidney disease, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and stroke. Preeclampsia also leads to eclampsia. If you are hearing this word for the very first time, eclampsia is a condition where a woman with preeclampsia experience seizures which threaten her and the unborn baby. Eclampsia may also lead to stillbirth, impaired fetal growth due to lack of nutrients and oxygen, and preterm birth.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists noted that preeclampsia leads to hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelet counts (HELLP syndrome) which is characterized by internal liver bleeding and blood clotting and can lead to lifelong health problems to the mother or death.
Treatment of preeclampsia
If a woman experiences preeclampsia from her thirty-seventh week of pregnancy, doctors can try their best to treat it by delivering the baby on the spot. However, you must understand that even after treatment, preeclampsia doesn’t go away and you are likely to experience symptoms even after delivery but can be resolved within six weeks of delivery.
If you are less than thirty-seven weeks pregnant, doctors can monitor your condition by subjecting both of you to different tests. Mothers are subjected to blood and urine samples test while the unborn child has his or her heart rate monitored through ultrasounds. Depending on the severity of the condition, a woman can be admitted to the hospital for the doctors to monitor her closely and eventually treat her and save her life and that of her unborn baby.
Beyonce admitted that preeclampsia is a scary condition and the fact that she failed to understand what was really going on with her until months later puts her in the right place to understand any woman going through the same. Women are therefore advised to get proper prenatal care such as attending all prenatal appointments to have their blood pressure checked along with other important tests. If you are pregnant and wondering the importance of attending all your prenatal appointment, the answer is simple; preeclampsia can be detected and managed early enough to prevent any serious conditions that can affect both the mother and the unborn child.
Pregnancy is one of the most important stages in a woman especially if she’s expecting her first child. Your child means a lot, not only to you but also to your family and the entire nation. And because your health is important too, attend prenatal appointments and your doctor will detect any signs of preeclampsia and manage it before it’s too late.