What is Pre-Eclampsia?
A diagnosis of preeclampsia can be terrifying. The condition carries with it a stigma of serious danger, and for good reason. If left untreated preeclampsia can progress to eclampsia, a condition which can cause serious harm to a woman and the child she is carrying. In some severe cases it can even cause death.
Preeclampsia, also called toxemia, and eclampsia is a condition believed to be caused by a placenta that is not functioning properly. While doctors suspect that factors including high body fat, poor nutrition, or poor blood flow to the uterus can lead to onset of the condition, an exact cause is unknown. Genetics are also thought to play a role. Additionally, while there are treatment options, the condition is incurable without giving birth.
Preeclampsia occurs most frequently in the second half of pregnancy, most often in the late second or third trimester. The condition is marked with high blood pressure and high levels of protein in the urine. Often the pregnant woman will also have noticeably swollen hands and feet, blurry vison and intense headaches preceding diagnosis. Preeclampsia is a condition that is often caught and diagnosed before resulting in eclampsia, however, if the patient presents with seizures as well as with all the normal symptoms of preeclampsia she is considered to have eclampsia at diagnosis.
Once diagnosed, your doctor will want to discuss how the baby is managing inside of the womb in order to get an idea on how soon delivery will need to occur. If your baby is well developed and your surrogate is a least 37 weeks along, an immediate induction or caesarian section may be ordered.
In the even that your surrogate is not far enough along to ensure a successful delivery, the doctor may prescribe bed rest, likely at the hospital, for the duration of the pregnancy. During that time, your surrogate will be hooked to a fetal heart monitor to closely monitor baby’s condition. Your surrogate will likely also be given steroids to help develop your baby’s lungs more quickly in preparation for an early delivery. The surrogate will also likely receive IV medications like Magnesium or Hydralazine to help lower blood pressure and prevent seizures.
Preeclampsia symptoms should subside within six weeks of giving birth for the surrogate. In most cases, with early diagnosis, there will be minor or no impact on the health of your newborn.