What is Preeclampsia?

Many pregnant women may struggle with finding time for so many prenatal visits, but these checkups are important to ensuring the baby is healthy and growing normally. They are also critical to making sure mom-to-be hasn't developed any health concerns such as preeclampsia.

Here at Habersham OBGYN located in Demorest, Georgia, Dr. Thomas Hatchett and our highly skilled team provide a wide range of gynecological and obstetrical care for women from their teens through menopause. Whether you're looking for preventive care, help with a reproductive system issue, or menopause management we can help. We also offer compassionate, personalized care for women during pregnancy to make sure you and your baby are in the best possible shape.

Preeclampsia

A complication of pregnancy, preeclampsia typically consists of high blood pressure and an issue with another organ — most frequently the liver and kidneys. It affects about 1 in 25 pregnancies in the United States, and if it is not properly treated, can result in serious complications or death for mother and baby. Preeclampsia typically strikes women after the 20th week of pregnancy.

Doctors believe it occurs when there is a problem in the development or function of the blood vessels in the placenta that results in blood flow being limited. This could occur from a variety of reasons including blood vessels being damaged, not enough blood flowing to the uterus, an immune system issue, or due to particular genes.

Symptoms

In some women, preeclampsia can occur without any symptoms. In many, however, high blood pressure of more than 140/90 mm HG during two readings conducted four hours or more apart is frequently the first sign. This rise can occur suddenly or gradually.

Additional symptoms can include a decrease in the amount of urine excreted, protein in the urine, and/or other kidney issues. A severe headache and/or change in vision such as things looking blurry or being sensitive to light can also signal a problem. Other signs of preeclampsia could be nausea, vomiting, and pain in the upper abdomen on the right side under the ribs. Shortness of breath, liver function concerns, and fewer platelets in the blood may also be warning signs. Some women experience swelling and weight gain with preeclampsia but this can also occur due to other reasons.

Diagnosis and treatment

Preeclampsia is suspected after two high blood pressure readings as well as at least one additional symptom. Follow-up tests to confirm the diagnosis may include a blood test, urine analysis, fetal ultrasound, and/or nonstress test or biophysical profile.

Treatment can involve medications, bed rest, or hospitalization. The most effective way to deal with it, however, is to deliver the baby, depending on the severity of the preeclampsia and how far along the pregnancy has progressed. 

If you're thinking about expanding your family or are already pregnant and seeking attentive, individualized care for the healthiest pregnancy possible, book online or call our office at 706-229-4718 today.

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