28 Aug My Preeclampsia Experience
Hi! Michelle here. My youngest son Austin just celebrated his second birthday on August 23. Happy birthday, Austin! So now, I officially have two boys under the age of three. Ah! #boymom.
I actually created Lily and Llama after Austin was born. I knew that I wanted to help make life a little easier, in any way that I could, for expecting mamas. My own pregnancy journies had their own struggles. I am SO lucky to have two healthy little boys, and have returned to health myself after I developed preeclampsia while pregnant with both of my sons.
When I was pregnant with Austin and my first boy, Aiden, I had really high blood pressure; the doctors had a lot of concerns. Apparently, I have “acute whitecoat hypertension.” Basically, when I go to the doctor my heart rate goes through the roof. It’s like a trigger. So, when I was pregnant with both boys, I again had high blood pressure. This developed into preeclampsia.
Preeclampsia can be really, really dangerous for both mom and baby. It could actually be life-threatening. So when Aiden, my first boy, was born, the doctors induced me two weeks early, to be safe. I was in labor for 32 hours straight.
Austin, same thing. I was in labor for him for 45 hours. They had me every which way but upside down. I tried my damnedest to have another natural birth but he was just too big. He was over 8 pounds! They took me in for an emergency C-section. That was scary because I was out of energy at that point. But he was born healthy. Did I mention he was over 8 pounds?
Worldwide, around 385,000 babies are born each day.
Approximately only 2-8% of those pregnancies will deal with preeclampsia. Statistically speaking, the number of women who will develop preeclampsia isn’t that high. But it is def not uncommon. Here’s a rundown of what preeclampsia is, and some things to look out for.
What is preeclampsia?
Preeclampsia is a pregnancy complication characterized by sudden high blood pressure and signs of damage to another organ system, most often the liver and kidneys. Preeclampsia usually begins after 20 weeks of pregnancy in women whose blood pressure has (previously to pregnancy) been normal.
Having certain conditions before becoming pregnant such as: chronic high blood pressure, migraines, type 1 or type 2 diabetes, kidney disease, a tendency to develop blood clots, or lupus, increases the risk of preeclampsia.
What causes preeclampsia?
The exact cause of preeclampsia involves several factors. Experts believe it begins in the placenta, the organ that nourishes the fetus throughout pregnancy (you know this). Early in pregnancy, new blood vessels develop and evolve to efficiently send blood to the placenta.
In women with preeclampsia, these blood vessels don’t seem to develop or function properly. They’re narrower than normal blood vessels and react differently to hormonal signaling, which limits the amount of blood that can flow through them.
Many women who suffer from preeclampsia don’t feel “sick,” so they might be surprised when recommended to be admitted to the hospital or prescribed bed rest since they still feel fine. Which makes sense, because not all women are the same and not all mamas with preeclampsia have symptoms.
Some things to look out for as possible symptoms.
- Excess protein in your urine (proteinuria) or additional signs of kidney problems
- Severe headaches
- Changes in vision, including temporary loss of vision, blurred vision or light sensitivity
- Upper abdominal pain, usually under your ribs on the right side
- Nausea or vomiting
- Decreased urine output
- Decreased levels of platelets in your blood (thrombocytopenia)
- Impaired liver function
- Shortness of breath, caused by fluid in your lungs
Some suggestions if you think you may have preeclampsia.
Make sure you attend your prenatal visits so that your care provider can monitor your blood pressure. Contact your doctor immediately or go to an emergency room if you’ve got any of the above going on.
We all know headaches, nausea, aches, and pains are common when you’re pregnant…and it is difficult to know when new symptoms are simply part of it or when they may indicate a serious problem. Especially if it’s your first pregnancy.
Bottom line, if you’re concerned about your symptoms, contact your doctor.
Mamas, I wanted to share my story about preeclampsia with you to let you know that whatever problems you may have with your pregnancy- whether health-related or otherwise- you are not alone. I actually created Lily and Llama after Austin was born, because I knew that I wanted to help mamas in any way that I could. If the Lily and Llama pre-packed hospital bag could make even one mama’s life a little easier, then we’ve done our job.
And mama, if you are struggling and in need of support, there are resources like Preeclampsia.org, an organization with a mission to “improve the outcomes of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy by educating, supporting and engaging the community, improving healthcare practices, and finding a cure.” You can also talk to me (hi! still Michelle here!) directly by sending me a DM on the Lily and Llama Instagram.