Pre-eclampsia

Mild pre-eclampsia can affect up to 10% of first-time pregnancies. More severe pre-eclampsia can affect 1-2% of pregnancies. The cause of pre-eclampsia is not fully understood. However, it is thought that a problem may develop with the blood vessels in the placenta, resulting in its underdevelopment. It generally occurs from around 20 weeks of pregnancy or immediately after the delivery of the baby. When your midwife checks your blood pressure and urine at your antenatal appointments, she will be looking for early symptoms of pre-eclampsia, which is why it’s important that you see her regularly.

The following are signs of pre-eclampsia:
• high blood pressure
• protein in the urine
• sudden or unusual swelling (oedema) in face, hands, feet or legs

As a mum-to-be you should contact your midwife or doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:

• sudden, severe swelling of your face, hands, feet or legs
• severe headaches
• blurred vision or flashing lights in front of your eyes
• pain in the abdomen, just below your ribs
• vomiting
• a general feeling of being unwell

You are more likely to develop pre-eclampsia if:

• you’re pregnant for the first time
• your sister, mum or partner’s mum or sisters had pre-eclampsia
• you’ve had a 10 year or longer gap between pregnancies
• you had pre-eclampsia in a previous pregnancy
• you’re a teenager or over 40
• you had a body mass index of 30 or more before you were pregnant
• you’re expecting more than one baby
• you already have a medical problem such as kidney disease, diabetes, migraines or high blood pressure

If you fall into one or more of the groups above you won’t necessarily develop pre-eclampsia, so don’t worry.

If you would like more support and advice just get in touch with our Careline
on 0800 977 8880

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