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Pre-eclempsia, also known as toxemia, is a condition caused by high blood pressure and a significant amount of protein found in the urine.  It is usually more likely to happen in first time pregnancies and takes place in teh late stages of the second trimester and throughout the third trimester.  If left untreated, pre-eclampsia can turn into eclampsia, causing seizures and sometimes death.

Pregnant mothers who develop pre-eclempsia, may have liver and kidney problems.  Often times, labor is induced and cesarean sections are performed in order to deter any other problems from taking place.

The common symptoms of mild pre-eclempsia are increased swelling of the face, hands, and feet, protein in your urine, and blood pressure reading of 140 (systolic)/90 (diastolic) or more.  Once you begin to feel the following symptoms: nausea, constant headaches, constant tiredness, seeing spots or vision becomes blurred, shortness of breath, sudden weight gain of more than a pound a day, and/or pain in the abdomen, your condition has moved from mild to severe pre-eclempsia.  At this point, there should be no hesitation to call your doctor.

Expecting parents should understand that induced labor may be the only solution to pre-eclempsia treatment.  After delivery, many women lose the symptoms and the pre-eclempsia within a week.  However, in other cases where a woman’s condition doesn’t progress, their doctor may prescribe blood pressure medication and/or monitor their kidney/liver function.

Unfortunately, there really isn’t anything that can be done to prevent pre-eclempsia.  You may be asked to go on bed rest and/or watch your sodium intake to keep your blood pressure from rising too high.  Every week that passes, your baby grows, which is the most important towards any complications or situations that might occur due pre-eclampsia. It’s important to stay positive and trust that your doctors will take care of you the best way possible. Take all advice seriously and do not hesitate to call them if your instinct tells you there is much more going on than normal.

Preventing preeclampsia

What can you do to reduce your risk of preeclampsia? Because the exact cause of the disease is not known, it’s hard to say, but the American Pregnancy Association suggests limiting salt and fried foods, drinking six to eight glasses of water a day, elevating your feet, and getting enough exercise and rest. Call your doctor immediately if you have symptoms such as vision problems, a severe headache, sudden nausea or vomiting, sudden weight gain or swelling, or pain in your upper right abdomen (where your liver is).

If you do develop signs of the condition, your doctor will keep a close eye on you and your baby to make sure it doesn’t get worse. “If you have preeclampsia, you are at a high risk for complications including premature delivery, low birth weight and progress to eclampsia, which may be mortal,” Lopez-Alarcon says. “The major action to prevent preeclampsia is prenatal care. Therefore, the sooner you know that you are at risk the better to apply preventive strategies such as a closer monitoring of the pregnancy’s progress.”

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