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Preeclampsia Explained and What to Expect

Preeclampsia is a condition that occurs only during pregnancy. Some symptoms of preeclampsia may include high blood pressure and protein in the urine, occurring after week 20 of pregnancy. Preeclampsia is often precluded by gestational hypertension. While high blood pressure during pregnancy does not necessarily indicate preeclampsia, it may be a sign of another problem. Preeclampsia affects at least 5-8% of pregnancies.

The following may increase the risk of developing preeclampsia:

  • A first-time mom
  • Previous experience with gestational hypertension or preeclampsia
  • Women whose sisters and mothers had preeclampsia
  • Women carrying multiple babies
  • Women younger than 20 years and older than age 40
  • Women who had high blood pressure or kidney disease prior to pregnancy
  • Women who are obese or have a BMI of 30 or greater
  • Mild preeclampsia: high blood pressure, water retention, and protein in the urine

Severe preeclampsia: 

  • headaches
  • blurred vision
  • inability to tolerate bright light
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • urinating small amounts
  • pain in the upper right abdomen
  • shortness of breath
  • a tendency to bruise easily

Contact your doctor immediately if you experience these symptoms.

At each prenatal checkup your healthcare provider will check your blood pressure, urine levels, and may order blood tests which may show if you have preeclampsia. Your physician may also perform other tests that include: checking kidney and blood-clotting functions, ultrasound scan to check your baby’s growth, and Doppler scan to measure the efficiency of blood flow to the placenta.

If you have any questions or concerns about preeclampsia, talk to Dr. Strebel or Dr. Grolle at your next appointment. We are here to help you with all of your health needs.