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Pre-eclampsia

Pre-eclampsia

The first signs of pre-eclampsia are often high blood pressure and swelling of the hands, feet and abdomen. The most common remedy is rest. If this doesn't help and the pre-eclampsia goes from mild to severe, a caesarean may be advised.

Pre-eclampsia is a common cause of premature delivery and of the baby not growing well, occurring in up to 10 per cent of pregnancies. But no one really knows why some mothers get it. Some experts believe it’s immune-related, that the mother’s body assumes the baby is a foreign body and rejects it.

Risk factors:

• High blood pressure
• Diabetes
• Having a mother or sister who has had pre-eclampsia
• Having underlying kidney disease
• Having a high Body Mass Index (BMI)
• Having an immune-related disorder
• If it is a multiple pregnancy
• If conception followed sperm, egg or embryo donation

The expectant mother may experience:

• Protein in her urine
• High blood pressure
• Oedema - swelling of the hands, feet and abdomen
• Considerable weight gain over a short period
• Headaches
• Vision problems such as blurring and flashing lights

Pain in the upper abdomen, under the ribs or in the upper back

Pre-eclampsia also affects the baby. The blood flow is restricted, reducing the baby’s supply of oxygen and nutrients.

Treatment
The first step in treating pre-eclampsia is to rest and take the strain off the body so that the blood flow to the placenta can increase. If that doesn’t help and the pre-eclampsia gets worse, it will affect the baby by reducing its growth rate. And the effect on the mother’s body can actually be life-threatening.

This is why in many cases of pre-eclampsia, the expectant mother is admitted to hospital so she and her baby can be monitored every day.

After the birth
In severe cases of pre-eclampsia it may be necessary to induce the birth or carry out a caesarean.

Once the baby has been born, the mother’s blood pressure and urine return to normal, and the swelling disappears. But the mother’s blood pressure will continue to be monitored for a while to ensure that it stays stable.

For more information about pre-eclampsia visit www.nzapec.com or email info@nzapec.com.

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