Understanding Preeclampsia and Pregnancy

As an expecting mother, you will have many doctor appointments leading up to your due date. In the beginning, these checkups will be less frequent – typically monthly – but as you get closer to your due date, it is normal for the frequency of these checkups to increase, substantially.

At these checkups, your doctor should be making recommendations on certain tests. While some of these recommendations are made to everyone – such as the test for gestational diabetes – others recommendations will be based on your age and risk factors.

The blood pressure check

There are some aspects to all prenatal checkups that are standard for all expecting moms. Stepping on the scale and getting your blood pressure taken, are all routine.

Of all the parts of pregnancy, getting your blood pressure taken may feel like a cakewalk. You sit down and try to think calmly as the blood pressure cuff slowly tightens around your bicep. Not too bad. No needles involved.

But just why does this happen every time? Didn’t they just take your blood pressure the last time you were in? What is the nurse or doctor even looking for?

Preeclampsia poses real risks to you and the baby

If your blood pressure reads high, this is cause for alarm. While it is always important to maintain a healthy blood pressure, high blood pressure or a sudden spike during pregnancy is a sign of preeclampsia, a medical condition that requires immediate action.

Preeclampsia is a pregnancy complication that is typically shown through high blood pressure. This can be a sudden spike or a gradual rise in blood pressure over time. Untreated, this can cause serious, even fatal, complications to you and the baby.

Who is at risk of developing preeclampsia?

The Mayo Clinic points out several risk factors for developing preeclampsia, including:

· High blood pressure pre-pregnancy: If you have high blood pressure before you are pregnant, you have an increased risk of developing preeclampsia

· First pregnancy or first partner: Women are more likely to develop the condition if this is their first pregnancy, or a pregnancy with a new partner

· Medical history: Those with a personal or family history of preeclampsia have an increased risk of developing the condition during pregnancy. Other medical conditions also increase the risk, such as diabetes, kidney disease, and lupus.

· Age: Women over 40 have a higher chance of developing preeclampsia

Your doctor’s role in preeclampsia

Your blood pressure should be checked routinely throughout your pregnancy. If there are any red flags, your doctor must take action immediately.

The bottom line is that preeclampsia is a life-threatening condition to you and your baby. Your doctor should be carefully reviewing your medical history and paying close attention to any warning signs or symptoms.

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