Complications – Preeclampsia

Preeclampsia is a disease of pregnancy that results in “leaky” blood vessels and inadequate blood supply to your body. This can cause decreased blood flow to the baby, which may result in low amniotic fluid around the baby and growth restriction of the baby. It also can cause organ dysfunction in your own body. In its most severe form, eclampsia, seizures occur. This can compromise both the mother and the baby. Rarely; stroke, organ failure, mental retardation and death to both the mother and baby may occur. Due to these rare, but serious consequences, your doctor will watch you closely at every visit for signs of this disease.

The disease typically occurs late in the second trimester or beyond. First pregnancies are more at risk. You are also more at risk if you have had the disease before. Oftentimes, your blood pressure will increase and you may spill protein into your urine. Other symptoms to watch for include severe headaches that donʼt resolve with Tylenol or rest, blind spots in your vision, or constant nagging upper abdominal pain.

If you develop mild preeclampsia and are preterm, your doctor may advise close observation and bed-rest. Depending on the severity of the disease and your gestational age, delivery might be recommended. Delivery is the cure for preeclampsia, but the benefits of delivery need to be weighed against the risk of early delivery. This is your doctorʼs job and she will discuss her recommendations and reasons with you and your family.