Sunday 22 January 2012

Pre eclampsia - Myth busting

I am not a doctor or researcher, and as always this is my opinion and based on my experience and reading. If you have specific concerns please talk to your midwife, GP or consultant.

Obesity causes pre eclampsia - undoubtedly obesity increases your risk of pre eclampsia. Researchers believe that the risk of pre eclampsia in obese first time mothers is around 12%, but in healthy weight mothers, the risk is 2%. Obesity puts you at a higher risk, but there is not a direct causative link. Research can be read here. Slim women can, and do, get pre eclampsia too.

Pre eclampsia is rare - 4 million women world wide are affected by pre eclampsia every year. It is said in the UK it affects 1 in 10 pregnancies. Of course it varies in onset from very early, like me, to term pregnancies. It also varies greatly in severity.

Pre eclampsia occurs only before the baby is born - Pre eclampsia, and full blown eclampsia can occur after birth, so it is important that monitoring continues in the immediate post natal period.

Pre eclampsia can be treated - Whilst there are things doctors can do to lessen the impact of pre eclampsia such us magnesium sulphate infusions, they are very much short-term in order to facilitate safe delivery of the baby. The only definitive treatment for pre eclampsia is delivery of the baby. However good antenatal care is absolutely vital.

Pre eclampsia is just a complication, its not serious - in the last reporting period of the Confidential Enquiry into Maternal and Child Health, 2002-2004 14 women died in the UK as a result of pre-eclampsia and eclampsia. It is essential to attend every appointment in pregnancy, and to ask for more if you feel you are at risk.

Pre eclampsia is just harmful for the mother - sadly, and getting figures for this is nearly impossible, pre eclampsia kills more babies than it kills mothers. Pre eclampsia prevents the placenta from working properly and nourishing the baby. Pre eclampsia is potentially life threatening for mother and baby.

Pre eclampsia only occurs in first pregnancies - it was often said that if you had a second baby shortly after your first, with the same father, you could not get pre eclampsia a second time. This has found to be totally false. In a subsequent pregnancy you should be getting much closer monitoring, and preventative treatment. The greatest risk for pre eclampsia is having it in a previous pregnancy.

I am passionate about preventing pre eclampsia, and importantly, the serious complications. It's a vile, evil condition that is indiscriminate and potentially devastating. It's the reason I support Tommy's, and you can read about their pre eclampsia research here.

The final thing I want to say, is that if you have been affected by pre eclampsia, it was not your fault. It just isn't. There is nothing that can be done if your pregnancy card is marked by this condition. I see and hear so many times "it's all my fault", and it just is not. It wasn't my fault and its not yours.

Lets work and support one another to prevent the devastating impact of pre eclampsia, through research, information and support.


  1. Great post. Magnesium sulphate is the worst thing I have ever felt they said it might be hot I thought I was on fire. As a slim person who has had pre eclampsia twice with the same partner I can agree with you points. I have a post in my draft About my pre eclampsia signs I maybe should fix it and post it

  2. I have learnt something new today - thanks for sharing this post x

  3. Thank you Jessi! Do the myths annoy you sometimes? I find it scary the ignorance, particularly the "you can only get it once" myth.

  4. Fantastic, what did you learn that you didn't know before?

  5. When I was on Daybreak the producer tried to get me to say I got pre eclampsia because I was fat, and whilst I am prepared to hold my hand up and say it may have been a factor, that sort of ignorance doesn't help slim women, like you, who may be missed/not on the look out for it.

    It would be great to see your experiences too. I want to do another post about my symptoms.

    I think my odema was so bad it protected me. I didn't feel the steroids that everyone says hurt, and I didn't feel the mag sulphate either. The high dose of methyldopa did send me loopy though! Or that could have been the mag as well.

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