I'd like to share a few ideas on preeclampsia. It is a disease that affects pregnant women. It affects about 10% of all pregnancies, being as common as breast cancer. It usually happens toward the end of the pregnancy and can cause emergency delivery, but sometimes it happens in the second trimester and it can cause severely premature babies or stillborn babies. It can get dangerous enough that the mother can remain disabled or even die.
Paul Levy reminded me of an excellent article on preeclampsia written by someone at his hospital. It appeared in the New Yorker this last summer and it is worth checking out
For a great summary on preeclampsia and the research done at the Beth Israel Deaconess MC, check http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/articles/060724fa_fact
If you want to read more and preeclampsia stories, check the Preeclampsia Foundation's website
If you want to chat with other people that had preeclampsia, the Foundation's Forum is a wonderful resource. I basically learned everything I know about preeclampsia from there and it was a tremendous support while preparing for my second pregnancy after a loss.
I think there are two ideas that I'd love you to remember:
- It can happen to any pregnant woman, so if any family member or friend is pregnant, send them to check the signs and symptoms. If they have any of those symptoms after 20w, send them to their doctor or take them to L&D. This is no joke.
- If you had it once bad, there is still hope that you will succeed in a future pregnancy.
We lost our first son at 24w gestational age. He was very small, less than a pound. We took 3 years to prepare for another pregnancy. We got medical textbooks, we read all that we could get our hands on about preeclampsia, I got fit and got as healthy as I could, I selected the best doctors I could get, I got a second opinion from a specialist in hypertension in pregnancy... we did all we could to help it.
When I got pregnant, I took my blood pressure twice a day, logged it and graphed it. When things started to be interesting (after 33w gestation), I was the one that told my doctors that things are going downhill. Here are my charts and graphs
After all this graphing and charting... here's the result: 5lbs, 13oz born at 36 weeks gestation, healthy mother, healthy baby, 13 months later still healthy baby. This is the perfect outcome for any pregnancy, the rest doesn't matter!!!!