During pregnancy there are certain risks that can endanger not only the life of the baby but also the life of the mother. Generally, these types of risks can come in the form of complications or they can come from other diseases that the mother has, such as pre-eclampsia , as we will see below.
Among these complications or diseases, some of them can occur either during the time of pregnancy or arise at the time of delivery. In some cases, the problem may start out mild during pregnancy and become more complicated at the time of delivery ; There may even be situations where complications appear days after the delivery has ended. Whatever the case, doctors need to apply a control to try to save the lives of both the baby and the mother, although in certain cases this becomes very delicate.
Among these complications, one of the best known is pre-eclampsia, a disease that affects pregnant women and can be quite serious , affecting both the safety of the mother and the baby before, during and after delivery. Throughout this text we will see everything related to this problem that affects mothers.
What is preeclampsia?
Preeclampsia is one of the most dangerous pregnancy complications seen today; it is also known as toxemia gravidarum. This condition is characterized by causing high blood pressure , swelling in both hands and feet, and loss of protein through urine; There are also other problems with preeclampsia that will be discussed later.
It is estimated that this problem affects approximately 5% of all pregnant women in the world , which has been a relatively high percentage and quite worrying, since, if it is not treated properly, it becomes a very serious situation.
But what are the consequences of preeclampsia? Why is it so serious? The answer to this is that this is one of the most dangerous conditions for life, not only for the baby, but also for the mother; This could result in the death of both if immediate measures are not taken. It is precisely because of this that despite affecting only 5% of women, it is considered a high percentage, since toxemia gravidarum is delicate and fatal .
Preeclampsia in pregnancy
As mentioned, preeclampsia is a condition that mostly arises during pregnancy . In general, it usually occurs during the last trimester of pregnancy , however, this is not exclusive; and in fact, from the beginning of the second trimester, there is the possibility that the mother will present a case of pre-eclampsia; This being a rather complicated situation, since the mother is exposed to the disease much longer.
There are cases in which the mother suffers from postpartum preeclampsia ; although there are very few times in which this situation is seen. Similarly, during childbirth it is also possible for a woman to suffer from this condition, although like postpartum preeclampsia, it is highly unlikely.
There are currently two types of pre-eclampsia, one of them is the common and the other is the certain severe pre-eclampsia. The first of them is usually the one that happens the most during pregnancies in which this disease is present; however, if left untreated, toxemia gravidarum can lead to something even more dangerous . this is usually more common in cases where the mother suffers from symptoms during the first months of the second half of pregnancy.
It should be noted that there is also another condition related to maternal preeclampsia known as HELLP syndrome . This syndrome affects in few cases mothers who are going through the disease; Although, if the syndrome occurs, the pregnancy condition tends to become even more complicated, as if it were severe preeclampsia.
Symptoms of Preeclampsia
Now that you know what maternal pre-eclampsia is, it’s time to dig deeper and talk about the symptoms of pre-eclampsia, as well as what are the complications of pre-eclampsia during pregnancy. And, as already mentioned, this condition can be further complicated, thus appearing new life-threatening symptoms for the mother and the baby .
The common symptoms of this disease are:
- Blood pressure rise to 140/90.
- Swelling in the hands, feet, and ankles.
- Sudden and excessive weight gain; this can be about 2 kilograms per week.
- Fluid retention.
- Constant presence of protein in the urine and other changes in liver function.
- Mild eye discomfort.
These are the symptoms of common pre-eclampsia or mild pre-eclampsia. Keep in mind that some of these symptoms can be considered common during pregnancy , so a diagnosis by the doctor is necessary to determine if it is indeed toxemia gravidarum.
Something to clarify is that not all women who suffer from pre-eclampsia go on to gain drastic weight and, similarly, not all women who gain weight suddenly suffer from pre-eclampsia . In this case, other factors influence, such as the person’s diet or lifestyle.
The same happens with nausea, a common feature during pregnancy that many women often suffer from, and of course, not all pregnant women who experience nausea or even vomit suffer from this disease.
It could be said that one of the most decisive symptoms for the diagnosis of this disease is the increase in blood pressure ; this being one of the key points to detect it.
In addition to mild or common pre-eclampsia, severe pre-eclampsia can also be present, a much more dangerous version of the disease and with far more extreme symptoms. In these cases, the symptoms are:
- Chronic and intense headache, generally it tends to make it difficult to carry out any type of activity and even rest.
- Serious alterations in vision, from very blurred vision to double vision, in very serious cases there may be a temporary loss of sight.
- Pains in the upper abdominal area, these pains usually intensify when touching the affected area.
- Vomiting in the last months of pregnancy.
- Respiratory problems, mainly a difficulty in breathing.
- Confusions or other neurological disorders.
- Difficulty urinating.
- Blood pressure over 160/110.
As you can see, this is a more severe version of pre-eclampsia and one where severe symptoms are present. If two or more of these symptoms are present during pregnancy, it is necessary to see a doctor immediately, since an immediate diagnosis must be made .
In the case of vomiting, and even nausea, it must be taken into account that in general this symptom, despite being common during pregnancy, is only so during the first months. That is why, if it appears frequently at a late stage, it becomes a strange situation, and it is better to rule out any possible pathology and not just toxemia of pregnancy.
HELLP syndrome is often considered a variant of preeclampsia and can affect any woman with the disease. It does not have a specific cause and its symptoms are:
- Hemolysis, or also known as destruction of red blood cells.
- High levels of transaminases .
- Low levels of platelets in the blood.
The problem with this syndrome is that it increases the risk of suffering from some symptoms of severe pre-eclampsia , even when the mild version of the disease has been diagnosed.
To control this syndrome, doctors usually perform regular blood tests and in this way study the levels of red blood cells and platelets in the blood. A decrease in any of these elements can result in a serious complication for the woman’s health.
Another case that is related to Preeclampsia is eclampsia, a much more aggressive version of the disease. Eclampsia rarely occurs, however, the situation worsens exponentially when it happens.
The severity of this variant is found in the fact that the mother begins to suffer from seizures , which are capable of causing severe damage and therefore must be rigorously controlled, since they could be fatal for the mother and for the child who is in the belly.
In general, seizures are often preceded by some of the symptoms of severe pre-eclampsia. These are:
- Very intense and prolonged headaches.
- Serious vision disturbances.
- Severe pain in the upper abdomen and sides.
When these symptoms are present, it is best to take precautions since if she suffers from eclampsia, the mother could begin to seizure at any time.
What causes preeclampsia in pregnancy?
In itself, today there is still no defined cause for maternal preeclampsia; even so, it is believed that its cause is linked to the placenta ; more specifically to a problem with the blood supply to the placenta due to improper implantation in the uterus.
It is considered that, as there is no correct implantation of the placenta in the uterine walls, the dilation of the arteries does not occur as it should and as a consequence the placenta does not receive the adequate amount of blood. According to the results of studies done to determine the cause of preeclampsia, this reduction in blood flow to the placenta generates a release of proteins from the placenta into the bloodstream, and in high amounts.
As these protein ” residues ” enter the bloodstream, some negative effects can be observed in the body, among which are constriction of blood vessels, alterations in blood clotting and damage to the walls of blood vessels. All these consequences have a direct influence on the appearance of some of the symptoms of toxemia gravidarum , such as hypertension and the appearance of proteins in the urine, as well as the swelling of some parts of the body such as the face, hands. , feet and ankles.
Even so, it is not yet considered as a definitive cause for this complication, so studies are still being carried out with the aim of achieving a response and in this way being able to determine preventive methods, as well as effective treatments that help reduce the risks it presents. for mother and baby.
Risk factors for preeclampsia
Although an exact cause has not been determined, some risk factors have been determined that, it is considered, can increase the chances of suffering from this complication during pregnancy.
Risk factors for preeclampsia include:
Although it has not yet been determined exactly whether one of the causes of the disease is genetic, it has been shown that in families with a history of the disease it is more common for a mother to suffer from pre-eclampsia . That is why, if you have knowledge of a case of the complication in your family, it is best to inform your doctor.
Although it seems to be a non-determining factor, most of the cases in which this condition occurs are usually in women under 20 years of age and over 35 or 40 years of age. In cases of adolescent pregnancies the risk increases considerably more.
It is well known that obesity is one of the main cases of diseases such as chronic hypertension and other circulation problems. Unfortunately, it is also an important risk factor for pregnant women, since an obese woman is more likely to suffer from pre-eclampsia , as well as the risk that the person will suffer from a severe case.
The chronic hypertension is a disease considered as a risk factor for this condition , so that if a woman suffering from it, are more likely to suffer from this or even other complications during pregnancy.
Other medical conditions that can increase the chances of contracting the disease are those related to blood clotting , among which are, for example, thrombophilia and phospholipid syndrome; both diseases characterized by the formation of blood clots in the blood vessels.
There are some diseases that increase the risk of suffering from this complication , among the best known are diabetes and lupus; Even kidney-related diseases are also included as risk factors; so it is important that your doctor is aware of any type of medical condition you may have in order to take the necessary precautions.
How is preeclampsia treated?
In itself, there is no definitive treatment for preeclampsia, that is, there is no cure as such for this disease, which increases the concern of doctors when it comes to severe cases. However, if there are ” preventive treatments ” that what they seek is to control the adverse effects of the disease in order to avoid serious consequences.
It should be clarified that the controls that are applied to the patient will depend on the type of complication , if it is a mild pre-eclampsia, there will not be so much control and in fact it can be done even from home, taking certain precautions. In the case of severe pre-eclampsia, well, the doctors will need to carry out rigorous checks on the patient, and most likely she will have to stay in the hospital for the remainder of the pregnancy.
When it comes to mild preeclampsia, in general , constant studies are usually carried out on the patient in order to control hypertension and other consequences. Similarly, regular blood tests are usually done to prevent the appearance of other complications such as HELLP syndrome, and that, if it occurs, appropriate measures can be taken.
As long as it remains mild, the mother can calmly monitor herself from home, regularly measuring her blood pressure levels to ensure that her blood pressure is not rising alarmingly.
In the same way, although it may be at home, even so, it is recommended that the mother keep as much rest as possible , avoiding going out a lot and even delegating any type of responsibility that she may have. Generally, during this period, cleaning or cooking is not recommended, so it will be your partner’s job to do it, or if they cannot, you will need to ask for help from a friend or family member.
It should be noted that, although rest is recommended, you should not keep complete rest , that is, be in bed all the time, since this can produce some negative effects such as the formation of blood clots in the vessels blood, and this would only make the situation worse.
At your doctor’s discretion, you may be prescribed some drugs to help you control symptoms such as hypertension, nausea, or bloating. This will depend entirely on your doctor and at no time should you self-medicate.
When it comes to a case of severe pre-eclampsia, the situation changes completely, and it is most likely that the delivery should be advanced as much as possible, otherwise, the baby and the mother could easily be in danger.
During a severe case, the mother is hospitalized to maintain strict control over her condition , while medications are administered to reduce the effects of some of the symptoms, as well as to prevent the appearance of more serious symptoms such as seizures. which are one of the greatest dangers.
If the situation occurs after 37 weeks of pregnancy, a cesarean section is performed immediately to deliver the baby and thus eliminate the risks . However, if it happens before 37 weeks, an assisted development process begins in which corticosteroids are used to stimulate the baby’s lung development and thus be able to accelerate the cesarean delivery; This treatment is usually done when the complication arises at 34 weeks or later.
There are cases in which, if the complication is a very severe case that could endanger the life of the baby and the mother, an emergency cesarean section is performed. At this point, it does not matter what week the pregnancy is in, in the same way the cesarean section will be performed, this being the only way to save the mother and the baby. Because of this, very premature births can occur due to pre-eclampsia; which puts the baby’s health at risk.
Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.