Pregnancy is an exciting and joyous time, but the physical and emotional changes to your body and mind can become overwhelming. Even when following your obstetrician's orders, you may develop conditions that can be dangerous to your health and the health of your unborn child. Considering up to 10 percent of pregnant women will be diagnosed with preeclampsia, understanding the condition is ideal. While the condition is commonly associated with having high blood pressure while pregnant, preeclampsia can cause many other problems for you and your baby. Using this guide, understand preeclampsia and learn the best techniques to prevent high blood pressure while pregnant.
It's More than High Blood Pressure
Your obstetrician will monitor your blood pressure levels during pregnancy. If your blood pressure is high at and after the 20-week mark of your pregnancy, you will be diagnosed with preeclampsia. Of course, high blood pressure is not the only symptom.
In addition to checking your blood pressure and completing a physical exam, your obstetrician will take urine samples during the pregnancy. Preeclampsia may also cause an excessive amount of protein to form in your urine. Known as proteinuria, protein found in your urine is another key sign of preeclampsia. Preeclampsia may also cause headaches, vision issues, abdominal pain, respiratory problems, and swelling around the feet, hands, and face.
High blood pressure affects the flow of blood to the placenta, as well. If your preeclampsia is not addressed, the placenta will not receive the nutrients and oxygen that are imperative for your unborn child's growth. In some cases, the restricted blood flow may cause the placenta to abrupt, disconnecting itself from the uterus before you are able to deliver your baby. This causes heavy bleeding, cramping, and potential premature birth.
Preeclampsia also increases your risk of developing the HELLP syndrome. The condition refers to Hemolysis, Elevated Liver enzymes, and Low Platelet counts, which can negatively affect multiple organs in your body and the development of your baby. Although it causes flu-like symptoms, the HELLP syndrome is more dangerous, affecting the organs of you and your unborn child. An estimated 25 percent of women who develop the syndrome will pass away.
How to Prevent Preeclampsia
Unfortunately, there is no sure-fire way of preventing preeclampsia, but there are ways to reduce your risk of developing this dangerous condition. To get started, focus on following a well-balanced diet and exercise plan to keep your weight in a healthy range. Giving in to your cravings may seem fun during pregnancy, but certain foods can increase your weight while also increasing your blood pressure levels.
Reduce your intake of fried foods and lower the amount of salt and processed foods you consume. Salt and processed foods contain excessive amounts of sodium, which can cause blood pressure. Avoid drinking alcoholic and caffeinated beverages, as well. Alcohol and caffeine are stimulants, which can quickly increase your blood pressure.
Consider also exercising each day to prevent excess weight gain while pregnant. Walking, swimming, and yoga are all great options to consider, but be sure to talk to your doctor before beginning any new workout plan. He or she will likely be able to give you realistic and personal fitness goals that you can keep during your pregnancy.
Be sure to take a prenatal vitamin that contains calcium, which is important for strengthening the placenta and preventing preeclampsia. Also, taking a low dose aspirin each day can help maintain healthy blood pressure levels and improve the blood circulation.
To improve blood circulation, which will reduce your risk of high blood pressure, elevate your feet multiple times each day. Place your feet up on top of pillows in your bed or rest in a reclining chair that will elevate your legs and feet.
Preeclampsia is a serious condition that affects many pregnancies. Thankfully, proper understanding and following your obstetricians' instructions can help protect you and your unborn baby's health. For more tips or assistance, visit resources like All Women's Clinic.