I've been thinking a lot about pre eclampsia recently. I've blogged about Joseph's early arrival at length, but there seems to be still so much confusion about pre eclampsia so how about some myth busting?
Pre eclampsia happens to fat people (I am a fat person!) - whilst raised BMI can indicate a pregnant woman may be at risk from pre eclampsia, lots of fat pregnant women don't get pre eclampsia. Many fit healthy women at a good BMI or even low BMI get pre eclampsia. Pre eclampsia can affect any pregnant woman
Pre eclampsia happens in the last weeks of pregnancy - Pre eclampsia can happen any time in the second or third trimester. Lots of women do get it at the end of the pregnancy, but many women, like me, get it earlier. Pre eclampsia can occur any time in the second or thrid trimester of pregnancy, and even after delivery.
Pre eclampsia just means you will have a premature baby - pre eclampsia affects the functioning of the placenta. The placenta stops working effectively, thus the baby is not receiving nutrients from the mother. If allowed to go on, or undetected, the maternal flow can reverse, the baby is giving up its nutrient supply to the mother. This is why babies born as a result of pre eclampsia pregnancies are usually small, they have had their growth restricted in the womb known as IUGR. Joseph was 300 grams lighter than he should have been. This situation in the womb can result in fetal death, or indeed, maternal death as the body becomes full of toxins. I don't want to scare anyone, but lets face the facts, pre eclampsia can be fatal, for the infant, for the mother, or for both of them.
Pre eclampsia can be treated - there is only one treatment for pre eclampsia and that is delivery of the baby, either by caesarean or by induction and natural delivery. Pre eclampsia can be temporarily treated with magnesium sulphate which appears to delay the onset of full blown eclampsia (fitting) but this is only done in order to facilitate safe delivery of the baby, that is to ensure they get steroids to mature their lungs, and to make sure everything is in place for their delivery and admission into NICU - the only definitive treatment for pre-eclampsia is to end the pregnancy by delivering the baby
Pre eclampsia can be prevented by a healthy diet - there is often speculation that because pre eclampsia causes the leeching of proteins into the body, that a high protein diet will prevent pre-eclampsia. There is no evidence that diet plays a factor in pre eclampsia prevention. Of course a healthy pregnancy diet is important, however - pre eclampsia can happen to any pregnant woman regardless of their diet or exercise regime
A diagnosis of pre eclampsia means bed rest - The only things I had ever read about pre eclampsia were in old pregnancy books, which basically spoke of 6 weeks bed rest. I was actually quite looking forward to a hospital admission for bed rest, meals cooked for me, tv in bed etc. These books are out of date, most of which were written before neo natal care is as good as it is now, and outcomes are improving all the time for premature babies. Pre eclampsia cannot be effectively treated by best rest, the only definitive treatment is delivery of the baby