Everything You Need to Know About Pre-Eclampsia

Pre-eclampsia is a serious condition that can occur during or shortly after pregnancy. Because it can be dangerous for both you and your baby, it’s important that you know what it is and how to recognize it. As midwives, we also keep an eye on this for you, but it’s good if you can recognize the signs yourself. That’s why this blog to inform you about pre-eclampsia, also known as pregnancy poisoning. And do you have any questions about this? Then we are here for you, of course.

What is Pre-Eclampsia?

With pre-eclampsia, you have high blood pressure and proteins in your urine. As a result, organs such as your liver and/or kidneys may not function as well. Pre-eclampsia can occur from as early as 20 weeks of pregnancy. However, this early onset is very rare; it usually occurs later in pregnancy. It can also occur a few days after giving birth.

High Blood Pressure or Pre-Eclampsia?

Do you suddenly have high blood pressure during pregnancy when you didn’t have it before? Then that’s not necessarily pre-eclampsia. In that case, we talk about pregnancy-induced hypertension. However, this is still a reason for extra checks because high blood pressure can increase the risk of complications. If, in addition to high blood pressure, you also have too many proteins in your urine, then that’s pre-eclampsia or pregnancy poisoning. If you are in the second half of your pregnancy and your blood pressure suddenly rises, we always check your urine for these proteins.

Check with Your Midwife

Pre-eclampsia doesn’t always come with high blood pressure; it can manifest in various ways. So it’s very important that if you are concerned, you always contact your midwife. We also strongly advise against measuring your blood pressure yourself and assuming everything is fine based on that. It may be that we are worried for other reasons. Leave the care and responsibility for you and your baby to us; that’s what we’re here for.

Symptoms of Pre-Eclampsia

As mentioned, not everyone has high blood pressure with pre-eclampsia, and some may not have any symptoms at all. Others may become very ill very quickly. So it’s good to be aware of the symptoms that may indicate pre-eclampsia. If you experience one or more of the following, you should contact your midwife as soon as possible:

  • Severe headache
  • Nausea, sometimes with vomiting
  • Blurred vision, double vision, seeing stars (this also often occurs in a healthy pregnancy), spots, or flashes of light
  • Pain in the upper abdomen
  • Feeling of tightness around your belly
  • Sudden swelling of the face, hands, and ankles due to fluid retention in your body
  • Feeling sick or flu-like without fever (general malaise)

Do you have one or more of these symptoms? Then always call your midwife immediately! We are available during the day at 020-6791704 and for emergencies at 06-54620724.

Effects on Mother and Child

The consequences of pre-eclampsia can be very serious. Due to high blood pressure, organs may not function properly, and fluid may accumulate in your body and brain. The placenta also functions less effectively, so your baby receives fewer nutrients and less oxygen, resulting in poor growth. Because of these serious consequences, we always take signs of pre-eclampsia very seriously and always try to arrange the best care for you and your baby.

When and How Does it Occur?

When pre-eclampsia occurs, it’s usually after 20 weeks of pregnancy, but it can also happen during labor or in the first few days after delivery. It can occur suddenly, but usually develops gradually. The exact cause is not fully understood; it’s suspected to be related to the way the placenta is embedded. However, genetics, the immune system, and the formation and development of the placenta in the first weeks of pregnancy are also thought to play a role.

Risk Factors

Whether pre-eclampsia can be prevented is not known. Of course, a healthy lifestyle doesn’t hurt, but it’s not clear whether it prevents you from experiencing this condition. However, it has been found that some people are at greater risk of pre-eclampsia. It seems to occur more often in:

  • Diabetes, kidney disease, or heart or blood vessel disease
  • If your mother or sister had pre-eclampsia
  • Pregnant women under 20 or over 40 years old
  • In multiple pregnancies
  • Overweight individuals
  • If you had high blood pressure before pregnancy
  • In case of blood clotting problems
  • Your first pregnancy, your first pregnancy with a new partner, or if your previous pregnancy was more than 10 years ago

HELLP Syndrome

Pre-eclampsia can also progress to HELLP syndrome. This involves excessive breakdown of red blood cells, elevated liver enzymes, and a low platelet count. Women with HELLP syndrome are often hospitalized. However, HELLP syndrome can also occur directly, without prior pre-eclampsia.

What if You Have Pre-Eclampsia?

If pre-eclampsia is diagnosed in you, you will receive intensive monitoring, and you may be admitted to the hospital. If the situation worsens, the only solution is to deliver the baby. Depending on your situation and that of your baby, you may be induced or have a cesarean section. If your baby is not yet fully grown, medication will be used to try to delay delivery as long as possible so that your baby can continue to grow and be as strong as possible when born.

Midwife Check-ups

High blood pressure doesn’t automatically mean pre-eclampsia. So if we see during a check-up that your blood pressure is high or suddenly elevated, we will monitor you more closely and also check your urine for the presence of proteins. If that’s the case, we will immediately refer you to a gynecologist at the hospital.

Experiencing one or more symptoms? Call us immediately!

If you experience one or more symptoms between check-ups, you should also call us immediately and you can come in quickly for an extra check-up. Our midwives are always there for you.