What is Pre-Eclampsia?

Pregnant woman in fieldPre-Eclampsia is a serious condition that only exists in pregnancy, most often popping up in the late second or third trimesters. There is no treatment or cure for the condition outside of delivering the baby (or babies) or ending the pregnancy. If left untreated, pre-eclampsia can progress to eclampsia and can be fatal.

Markers for pre-eclampsia include increased swelling, a spike in blood pressure, and protein in the urine. If these signs show up during one of your doctor visits, you may be sent to the hospital for further monitoring. In some cases, the condition will require immediate hospitalization or bed rest at home. Depending on how far along you are, an emergency delivery may be ordered.

If you are not far enough along in the pregnancy, or your condition is mild enough to allow for a delay in delivery, doctors may try to alleviate the symptoms, in order to give the baby more time to grow. Treatments can include bed rest, increased water intake, decreased salt intake and on occasion, medications to lower your blood pressure. You may also be given steroids to try and accelerate the baby’s growth in preparation for an early delivery.

As a surrogate, this diagnosis can be intimidating and scary. While in cases of extreme preeclampsia there may be little time for thought preceding action, it is important to remember that your health is incredibly important in this situation. It will be important for you to talk with your doctor closely to make a decision that is best for everyone involved.

In the event of a diagnosis, you’ll want to talk with your case specialist right away. This person will be able to contact and inform your intended parents of the condition, as well as provide treatment options. Your Case Specialist can also set up reimbursements for lost wages, childcare, housekeeping, and any other additional expenses you may incur as a result of bed rest. Allowing your case specialist to manage this element for you ensures that you’re focusing on what is really important- your personal health and the health of the baby you are carrying.

Kim Bergman, PhD, a licensed psychologist of 26 years, has specialized in the area of gay and lesbian parenting, parenting by choice and third party assisted reproduction for over two decades. Dr. Bergman has created a comprehensive psychological screening, support and monitoring process for intended parents, surrogates and donors. She is the co-owner of Growing Generations and is a member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the American Psychological Association, the Los Angeles County Psychological Association, the Lesbian and Gay Psychotherapy Association, and the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association. She is on the national Emeritus board of the Family Equality Council. Dr. Bergman writes, teaches and speaks extensively on parenting by choice. Along with co-authors, she published “Gay Men Who Become Fathers via Surrogacy: The Transition to Parenthood” (Journal of GLBT Family Studies, April 2010). Dr. Bergman’s is the author of the book, Your Future Family: The Essential Guide to Assisted Reproduction (Conari Press 2019) as well as the children's book You Began as a Wish (Independent Press 2019). Dr. Bergman created her own family using third party assisted reproduction and she lives with her wife of 35 years. She has two adult daughters.