Third Trimester (Months 7-9) - Preeclampsia: One Reason Why Prenatal Visits are Important
Preeclampsia rarely occurs before the 24th week of pregnancy. Symptoms
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Protein in the urine
- Swollen legs, ankles and fingers (edema)
- Nausea and vomiting
- Blurred vision · Abdominal pain · Excessive weight gain
What Happens if you Have Preeclampsia?
During each of your routine prenatal visits, your blood pressure
is tested and compared with what has been normal for you. If it's
higher than usual, and it's detected early, your health care provider
will probably advise you to rest in bed. Your blood pressure will
be monitored closely and your urine tested to make sure preeclampsia
If your blood pressure gets too high and remains untreated, it
can damage your kidneys, brain, eyes and liver. It can also decrease
the flow of blood to the placenta, which can cause your baby to
be malnourished and underweight. At its most severe, preeclampsia
becomes eclampsia, and seizures and loss of consciousness may result.
When preeclampsia becomes more severe, you may be placed on strict
bedrest, given medication to lower your blood pressure or you may
be hospitalized. It's also quite possible that your doctor will
determine that a cesarean delivery is needed immediately, for your
safety and for the baby's.
Who's More at Risk for Preeclampsia?
Preeclampsia is more common in women who have the following conditions:
- High blood pressure
- Kidney disease
It's also more common in first pregnancies, in woman who are older
than 35 and in women who are pregnant with multiples. But it can
happen to any pregnant woman, no matter how well the pregnancy has
Remember, preeclampsia can develop quickly. That's why routine
prenatal care is so important. If you're resting at home because
your blood pressure was a little higher at your last prenatal visit,
pay attention to the way you feel. Ask your doctor what symptoms
should prompt you to call. And don't hesitate to call if you have
any doubts at all about your condition.
K Reynolds, C Lees, G McCartan, Pregnancy
and Birth: Your Questions Answered. DK Publishing, 1997; A Eisenberg,
What to Expect when You're Expecting, 1996.