Advice on the causes, symptoms and treatment of pre-eclampsia or high blood pressure during pregnancy.
Your blood pressure is closely monitored throughout pregnancy at antenatal visits. Your doctor, midwife or consultant will let you know if your blood pressure is unusually high and probably suggest complete rest. Some doctors insist on hospitalisation so that your blood pressure can be regularly monitored.
A major reason for this is pre-eclampsia. This is one of the most common problems associated with pregnancy and is generally detected at antenatal visits. It is characterised by high blood pressure, swelling of the hands, ankles or face, and the presence of protein in the urine.
It is vital not to miss any antenatal appointments, especially in the later stages of pregnancy. Though pre-eclampsia in itself generally will not harm you, it is a warning sign.
After your baby is born, the swelling of the feet and hands will go down, your blood pressure will gradually return to normal, and the protein disappears from the urine. But untreated pre-eclampsia may develop into eclampsia, which can be extremely dangerous.
With eclampsia the swelling affects the brain and can cause convulsions. These fits may result in damage to the mother's heart, kidneys, liver and blood-clotting system and can even prove fatal.
Where such fits occur, drugs are administered to control them and artificial respiration is given. The hospital may also decide to deliver the baby by emergency caesarian to save the lives of both mother and baby.
Eclampsia seldom occurs, but it is important to attend all your antenatal sessions.
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