High-risk pregnancy is a term for variety of common health conditions that can be associated with being pregnant.
These conditions can occur with any pregnancy either a first, second or third pregnancy. A lady/woman might have any of the conditions before becoming pregnant or during pregnancy.
The common health conditions include:
Sickle cell disease
Multiple gestation (twin or more pregnancy)
Focus of discussion today is PRE-ECLAMPSIA
This health condition is unknown by most people except for certain health care practitioners.
My thought was confirmed when I had the discussion with my sisters in the Babes of Unique Dynamite Family some days ago and there were lots of responses.
I was encouraged to make this open for all, men inclusive.
NB: Ideally, pregnancy age is counted in weeks but to the masses, it is counted in months. So, in this write-up, the months stated are for lay understanding and not necessarily corresponding to the weeks of pregnancy.
PRE-ECLAMPSIA is one of the health conditions grouped under “High-risk pregnancy”. It is one of the leading causes of death of mother and the unborn child especially in Nigeria. Little or no health education is made concerning this topic even during antenatal clinics in some health facilities.
There’s a case of a woman I nursed, who waited for 9years before she got pregnant. She developed preeclampsia and it was not dectected on time in the health facility she registered with. Alas, at 36weeks(8months), she lost the baby! It was very saddening!
PRE-ECLAMPSIA simply means hypertension-in-pregnancy or pregnancy-induced-hypertension. Any pregnant woman with diagnosis of Pre-eclampsia has hypertension because of the pregnancy. It is not that the woman had hypertension before she got pregnant.
In a lay term, it means the pregnant woman has high blood pressure while pregnant.
The specific cause is unknown. But experts think that it occurs when the placenta (nourishment organ for the fetus) does not work as it ought to.
Also, experts say there presence of normal blood vessels which supply the placenta with blood during pregnancy. But in preeclampsia, the blood vessels are abnormal (narrowed) leading to inability of the blood vessels to make blood flow with ease (resulting to blood flow with force–high blood pressure in order to compensate for the shortage of blood to the unborn baby.
But there are risk factors such as:
√ Family history of hypertension(high blood pressure).
√ High blood pressure before pregnancy.
√Multiple pregnancy (twin or more pregnancy).
√ Race (common in black women than whites
Pre-eclampsia can often be detected as early as 20weeks gestation(5months pregnancy)
SIGNS and SYMPTOMS
√ Blood pressure reading of 140/90mmHg and greater at 2 or 3 consecutive times.
√ Protein traces in urine( this is a test done at the hospital).
√ Severe headaches.
√ Blurry vision.
√ Swelling of the feet, face, hands(Although this sign might not necessarily denote pre-eclampsia as most pregnant women tend to increase in size in the later stages of pregnancy-3rd trimester).
Prompt and adequate care is needed once Pre-eclampsia is detected.
Treatment is mostly managed in the hospital with Magnesium sulphate being the most common medical treatment.
Also, antihypertensives are usually administered and dosage regimen must be strictly adhered to.
Cure to preeclampsia is the delivery of the baby depending on the age, wellbeing of the unborn baby, and the severity of the preeclampsia
Most times, the pregnancy is not carried to term. In order to save the lives of mother and fetus(unborn baby), delivery usually takes place at 34weeks/36weeks(7-8months).
In severe cases, delivery takes place at lesser weeks/ months.
Delivery is either by induction of labour (initiating labour before the expected time)or Caserean section depending on health status of mother and fetus(emergency cases).
Commonest complications include:
√ Eclampsia: mother experiences seizures (convulsions) due to untreated/unresolved high blood pressure. This leads to being comatosed (unconscious) and death can eventually occur.
√ Abruption of placenta: the placenta detaches from the wall of the uterus (womb) leading to shortage/lack of blood supply to the fetus. Death of fetus(unborn baby) occurs in most cases.
√ Prematurity: most times, the fetus has to be born prematurely in order to save its life and the mother’s. Such babies are cared for in the Neonatal unit or Special care baby unit of the hospital.
Please endeavour to know your baseline blood pressure. The average range is 120/80mmHg but it varies with individuals (90/60mmHg- 130/70mmHg).
If You can get a digital sphygmomanometer(machine for checking blood pressure) especially for pregnant, please do.