Preeclampsia is a medical term for severe pregnancy high blood pressure, and you’re probably wondering what causes it. Here’s a hint… THE BABY! Learn about other risk factors and what does preeclampsia mean for you and the health of your baby all coming up in this blog post!Listen to "What Causes Preeclampsia? Pregnancy Podcast Pukeokogy Episode 70" on Spreaker.
Today you will learn the science behind the definition of preeclampsia, how far along in your pregnancy can you still be at risk, what does it mean for you if you have been diagnosed, and natural remedies that are backed by science of course (only the real deal medical from Dr. Jackie)
Preeclampsia: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment.
Pregnancy comes with physical, social, and psychological challenges. It is perfectly normal that you may experience symptoms such as morning sickness, loss of appetite, mood swings, and vomiting while pregnant.
However, there are other symptoms and signs that you may have when pregnant that need further investigations and treatment. One such sign is high blood pressure leading to a condition known as preeclampsia.
High blood pressure, also referred to as hypertension, is defined as having systolic blood pressure above 140 mmHg or diastolic blood pressure above 90 mmHg. Studies shows that 1 in 10 pregnant women develop hypertension.
What is Preeclampsia?
Preeclampsia is pregnancy-induced hypertension that develops after 20 weeks of gestation in a woman who previously had normal blood pressure. Usually, a pregnant woman with preeclampsia tends to lose excess protein in urine.
Preeclampsia and gestational hypertension are two related conditions that may develop during pregnancy. However, women with gestational hypertension do not lose excess proteins in urine. When a woman with preeclampsia experiences a seizure, the condition is termed eclampsia.
Usually, preeclampsia tends to resolve after a woman gives birth.
On the other hand, a woman may develop high blood pressure and excess wasting of protein in the urine after having a baby; this is referred to as postpartum preeclampsia.
What Causes Preeclampsia?
Preeclampsia affects many body organs such as the kidney, heart, and the unborn baby as well. Unfortunately, the exact cause of this condition is yet to be discovered.
However, there are known risk factors that increase the chances of one developing preeclampsia which include.
- Getting pregnant early in your reproductive years (below 20 years of age) or late when your fertility starts to diminishing (above 35 years of age).
- Having a family member who had preeclampsia.
- Having chronic hypertension, which is, having high blood pressure before conceiving.
- Having a long-standing kidney disease
- Having diabetes mellitus.
- Getting pregnant with more than one child.
Other factors can also contribute to the development of preeclampsia, such as not keeping your pressures in check during pregnancy, low socioeconomic status, and failing to attend antenatal visits.
The symptoms of preeclampsia resemble those of chronic hypertension. They include headaches, visual disturbance, and experiencing abdominal pains. A woman may also experience symptoms to those they experience early in pregnancy, such as nausea and vomiting. It is therefore important to seek medical attention when experiencing such symptoms. In addition, a woman with preeclampsia may gain weight faster than normal.
Preeclampsia also can cause swelling in various body parts such as the face, hands, and legs. Sometimes you may experience confusion and apprehension.
Signs of Preeclampsia
It is not difficult to detect the signs of preeclampsia. Usually, your blood pressure will be elevated above 140/80 mmHg.
Other significant signs of preeclampsia include generalized edema and tenderness over the right upper region of your abdomen, suggesting a tender liver.
Also, preeclampsia leads to effects on your baby's growth, leading to having a small fundal height for gestation.
Your physician may also detect signs of visual disturbance while examining your eyes called arteriovenous nicking.
Why Does Preeclampsia Happen?
Preeclampsia happens when the blood vessel that supplies the placenta (an organ that facilitates oxygen and nutrients exchange between you and your baby) experiences vasospasm and fails to dilate maximally. When this occurs, the placenta fails to receive an adequate blood supply, leading to the generation of harmful molecules that further damage the blood vessels and multiple body organs.
If left untreated, preeclampsia can lead to life-threatening complications to both the mother and the fetus, such as liver injury, acute kidney failure, and separation of the placenta, transient blindness, and cardiovascular problems, premature and preterm labor.
When symptoms and signs of preeclampsia are suspected, your healthcare provider will request various tests to aid in the diagnosis. Some of the tests that may be performed include
- Complete blood count, which may show anemia, or reduced platelet count
- Urinalysis may reveal proteins in urine.
- Liver function test to check for elevated liver enzymes.
- Obstetric ultrasound to check the wellbeing of your baby and how it is growing.
The aim of treating preeclampsia is to lower blood pressures and reduce the complications of preeclampsia.
Your doctor may recommend that you take bed rest in your lateral position to increase blood flow between your uterus and placenta.
While the definitive treatment of preeclampsia is giving birth, it may not be of benefit, particularly when your baby is born preterm. Therefore, your healthcare may prescribe blood pressure medications to help buy time until your baby can survive outside your womb.
Also, your doctor may prescribe anticoagulant and antiseizure medications to help prevent complications of preeclampsia.
Tips on How You Can Prevent Preeclampsia
While the exact cause of preeclampsia remains unknown, there are things you can do to reduce your chances of developing preeclampsia. These include:
- Leading a healthy lifestyle and eating a healthy diet.
- Planning to get pregnant when you are most fertile between the age of 20 and 35 years.
- Attending antenatal visits early in your pregnancy and during the rest of your pregnancy to monitor your blood pressures.
Natural Ways to Help with Preeclampsia
- Consume adequate salt & electrolytes because contrary to old beliefs that salt increases blood pressure is not correct when used in moderation.
- Eat a lower-carb, low-glycemic diet which means less carbs and sugar because it can reduce the risk of increasing blood pressure. Limit white flour (things like pasta, pancakes, crackers, bread), sugars, and sweet drinks, these are what we call refined carbs and they are not good for your blood pressure when pregnant.
- Consume adequate amounts of protein, especially glycine-rich sources of protein because it helps you to maintain a normal blood pressure. Glycine is an amino acid that aids in the production of elastin, a protein that allows your vessels to expand and contract. In high blood pressure they are super contracted hence the high pressure its sending blood back up to the heart. Eat foods like bone broth, slow-cooked meat (crock pot is your best friend for roast and stews), chicken with the skin, and collagen or gelatin powder from jello.
- Consider supplementing with magnesium. About 48% of Americans don’t get enough magnesium in their diets leading to problems with sleep. Besides eating high magnesium rich foods like green leafy vegetables, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, cashews, chia, avocados, and green herbs, you can also bathe in Epsom salt baths. Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate and your largest organ is the skin!
If you’re still struggling to sleep try NoMo Sleepless Nights Bands. They are a doctor formulated natural way to go off to sleep faster and stay asleep longer applying pressure on your sleep point while the aromatherapy of medically sourced lavender soothes and calms the body to help produce more melatonin naturally. It’s a great way to get kids to sleep too.
- Ensure you consume enough choline, which 930mg is recommended in your second and third trimester. So eat up those egg yoks for breakfast, plus choline is also an anti-inflammatory. And what pregnant mama doesn’t want less swollen feet?