Posts Tagged ‘preeclampsia’

Heart conditions and pregnancy

Tuesday, September 18th, 2018

It’s not surprising to hear that being healthy before pregnancy can help prevent pregnancy complications. But if you have a heart condition like heart disease or a health problem like high blood pressure (which can lead to heart problems), you might worry about how it could affect your pregnancy. Here are a few things to know:

  • High blood pressure can cause preeclampsia and premature birth during pregnancy. But managing your blood pressure can help you have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.
  • During pregnancy, your heart has much more work to do than before you got pregnant. It has to beat faster and pump more blood. If you have heart disease, then this extra stress on your heart may be a concern.
  • Most women with heart disease have safe pregnancies. But symptoms of heart disease can increase during pregnancy, especially during the second and third trimesters.
  • Some medicines carry a risk for birth defects. These include ACE inhibitors and blood thinners. These are a type of medicine that may be used to treat heart and blood pressure conditions. If you take these medicines, ask your health care provider about their safety and about other medicines that may be safer for you and your baby. But don’t stop taking any medicine without your provider’s OK.

Planning your treatment before pregnancy

Planning your pregnancy can help you make informed decisions about what’s best for you and your baby. Heart problems are one of the leading causes of pregnancy related-death. Getting early treatment for conditions that can cause complications during and after pregnancy may help save your life.

If you have a heart condition, talk to your health care team (for example, your cardiologist and obstetrician) before you get pregnant. They can help you understand what risks (if any) you may have during pregnancy. You also can talk to them about any concerns you have, like changing to a safer medicine. You may want to meet with a genetic counselor to review the risks of passing congenital heart problems to your baby. This risk varies depending on the cause of the heart disease.

If you have high blood pressure, talk to your provider about a treatment plan to help keep you and your baby healthy during pregnancy. By managing your health before pregnancy, you and your provider can make sure you’re ready for pregnancy.

Visit marchofdimes.org for more information about having a healthy pregnancy and reducing your risk for complications.

Preeclampsia can also happen after you’ve given birth

Wednesday, May 30th, 2018

Preeclampsia is a blood pressure condition that only happens during pregnancy and during the postpartum period. Women who have preeclampsia develop high blood pressure and may also have signs that some of her organs, like her kidneys and liver, may not be working normally. When preeclampsia happens shortly after having a baby, it is called postpartum preeclampsia.

Although postpartum preeclampsia is a rare condition, it is also very dangerous. Postpartum preeclampsia most often happens within 48 hours of having a baby, but it can develop up to 6 weeks after a baby’s birth. According to the Preeclampsia Foundation, postpartum preeclampsia can happen to any women, even those who didn’t have high blood pressure during their pregnancy. It can be even more dangerous than preeclampsia during pregnancy because it can be hard to identify.

After your baby is born, your attention is mostly focused on his needs. To identify the signs of postpartum preeclampsia you also need to make sure you are paying attention to your body and how you are feeling. Identifying the signs and symptoms of postpartum preeclampsia and getting help right away is extremely important. Postpartum preeclampsia needs to be treated immediately to avoid serious complications, including death.

Signs and symptoms of postpartum preeclampsia may include:

  • Changes in vision, like blurriness, flashing lights, seeing spots or being sensitive to light
  • Headache that doesn’t go away
  • Nausea (feeling sick to your stomach), vomiting or dizziness
  • Pain in the upper right belly area or in the shoulder
  • Swelling in the legs, hands or face
  • Trouble breathing
  • Decreased urination
  • High blood pressure (140/90 or higher)

What can you do?

  • Go to your postpartum checkup, even if you’re feeling fine.
  • Know how to identify the signs and symptoms of postpartum preeclampsia.
  • If you have any of the previous signs or symptoms, tell your provider right away. If you can’t talk to your provider right away, call the emergency services (911) or ask to be taken to an emergency room.

For more information visit marchofdimes.org

Signs and symptoms of preeclampsia

Tuesday, May 8th, 2018

Preeclampsia is a blood pressure condition that only occurs in pregnancy and during the postpartum period. Women who have preeclampsia develop high blood pressure and may also have signs that some of her organs, like her kidneys and liver, may not be working normally.

Preeclampsia is a serious health problem for pregnant women around the world. It affects 2 to 8 percent of pregnancies worldwide. In the United States, it’s the cause of 15 percent of premature births. Premature birth is birth that happens before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Most women with preeclampsia have healthy babies. But if it’s not treated, it can cause severe health problems for you and your baby.

For most women, preeclampsia happens after 20 weeks of pregnancy. When it happens during the postpartum period, it is usually within 48 hours of having a baby. However, it can develop up to 6 weeks after birth.

One of the best ways to detect preeclampsia is to go to all your prenatal care checkups, even if you’re feeling fine. Preeclampsia sometimes develops without any signs. This means you may have preeclampsia and not know it. During your prenatal care checkups your health care provider will measure your blood pressure and test your urine for protein. In the case of preeclampsia, there’s usually a presence of protein in the urine. 

Signs and symptoms of preeclampsia include:

  • Changes in vision, like blurriness, flashing lights, seeing spots or being sensitive to light
  • Headache that doesn’t go away
  • Nausea (feeling sick to your stomach), vomiting or dizziness
  • Pain in the upper right belly area or in the shoulder
  • Sudden weight gain (2 to 5 pounds in a week)
  • Swelling in the legs, hands or face
  • Trouble breathing

Many of these signs and symptoms are common discomforts of pregnancy. If you have even one sign or symptom, call your provider right away. Without treatment, preeclampsia can cause serious health problems for you and your baby, even death.

If you’re at risk for preeclampsia, your provider may want you to take low-dose aspirin to help prevent it. Talk to your provider to see if treatment with low-dose aspirin is right for you. Visit marchofdimes.org for more information about how to have a healthy pregnancy and baby.

Screening for gestational diabetes

Monday, March 26th, 2018

In the United States, 9 out of every 100 women (9 percent) has diabetes. Diabetes is a health condition marked by an increase in blood sugar, also called glucose. People with diabetes need to make sure their blood sugar levels are not too high nor too low.

This is particularly important for women, because preexisting diabetes (type 1 or type2) that’s not under control before pregnancy can lead to serious complications during pregnancy. Some of these complications include preeclampsia, premature birth, and birth defects. So, if you have diabetes, talk to your health care provider about how to best have it under control before trying to get pregnant to help prevent these serious complications.

There is another type of diabetes that only occurs during pregnancy, called gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes usually develops after 20 weeks of pregnancy and goes away after you have your baby. However, developing gestational diabetes can make your more likely to develop diabetes later in life. The good news is that there’s a way to determine if you may have gestational diabetes. Between weeks 24 and 28 of pregnancy, you get a prenatal test called glucose screening test. If you get a positive result on your glucose screening test, you get another test called glucose tolerance test to see if you have gestational diabetes.

If you have gestational diabetes, here are few things you can do to help you control diabetes during pregnancy:

  • Go to all you prenatal care visits, even if you’re feeling fine.
  • Learn how to control your blood sugar by eating healthy foods and being active every day.
  • If you have to take medicine, take it exactly as your provider tells you to.

Screening for gestational diabetes is a preventive service covered by most health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act, at no extra cost to you. Learn more about recommended preventive services that are covered under the Affordable Care Act at Care Women Deserve.

Can low dose aspirin reduce the risk of preeclampsia?

Monday, March 5th, 2018

Preeclampsia, a kind of high blood pressure, is a serious health condition that can affect women after the 20th week of pregnancy or after giving birth. Without treatment, preeclampsia can cause health problems for mom and baby. For example, a woman with untreated preeclampsia can have problems with her kidney or liver, or problems with how her blood clots. Preeclampsia during pregnancy increases the risk of premature birth (when a baby is born early, before 37 weeks of pregnancy).

How can low-dose aspirin help?

Low-dose aspirin is also called “baby aspirin” or 81 mg (milligrams) aspirin. For some women low-dose aspirin can help reduce the risk for preeclampsia. If your provider thinks you’re at risk for preeclampsia, he may want you to take low-dose aspirin to help prevent it. Make sure to talk to your provider to see if treatment with low-dose aspirin is right for you.

You can buy low-dose aspirin over-the-counter, or your provider can give you a prescription for it. If your provider wants you to take low-dose aspirin to help prevent preeclampsia, take it exactly as they tell you to. Don’t take more or take it more often than your provider says.

Am I at risk for preeclampsia?

Although we don’t know exactly what causes preeclampsia, there are some things (risk factors) that can make you more likely to have this condition than other women. You might be at higher risk for preeclampsia if:

  • You had preeclampsia before, in a previous pregnancy. The earlier in pregnancy you had preeclampsia, the higher your risk is to have it again in another pregnancy.
  • You are pregnant with multiples (twins, triplets, or more).
  • You have high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease or an autoimmune condition like lupus.

To diagnose preeclampsia, your provider measures your blood pressure and tests your urine for protein at every prenatal visit. If you’re at high risk for preeclampsia, your provider may want you to start taking low-dose aspirin after 12 weeks of pregnancy.

What are the signs and symptoms of preeclampsia?

Signs and symptoms of preeclampsia include:

  • Swelling in the legs, hands or face.
  • Sudden weight gain (2 to 5 pounds in a week).
  • Headache that doesn’t go away.
  • Changes in vision, like blurriness, flashing lights, seeing spots or being sensitive to light.
  • Nausea (feeling sick to your stomach), vomiting or dizziness.
  • Trouble breathing.
  • Pain in the upper right belly area or in the shoulder.

Remember, preeclampsia can happen during pregnancy, or after the baby is born (up to 6 weeks after baby’s birth). If you have even one sign or symptom, call your health care provider right away.

Thinking about pregnancy after premature birth

Wednesday, November 8th, 2017

Even if you do everything right, you can still have a premature birth. We don’t always know what causes premature birth, but we do know that if you’ve had a premature baby in the past, you’re at increased risk of having a premature birth in another pregnancy. If you have given birth early, here are some ways you may be able to reduce the chances of premature birth in another pregnancy:

Wait 18 months between giving birth and getting pregnant again

Waiting at least 18 months between pregnancies gives your body time to recover from one pregnancy so that is it ready for the next one. Use birth control so you don’t get pregnant again too soon. Talk to your provider about the best birth control option for you.

Schedule a preconception checkup

Being as healthy as possible when you get pregnant can help you have a healthy, full-term pregnancy. At your preconception checkup you and your provider can talk about:

Talk to your provider about progesterone shots

Progesterone is a hormone that helps your uterus grow and keeps it from having contractions. Progesterone shots may help prevent you from giving birth early again if:

  • You’re pregnant with just one baby.
  • You were pregnant before with just one baby and had spontaneous premature birth.

Get treatment for short cervix

Your cervix is the opening to the uterus that sits at the top of the vagina. The cervix opens, shortens and gets thinner and softer so your baby can pass through the birth canal during labor and birth. Having a short cervix increases your risk for giving birth early. Talk to your provider about cerclage and vaginal progesterone.

Take low dose aspirin to help prevent preeclampsia

Preeclampsia is a kind of high blood pressure some women get after the 20th week of pregnancy or after giving birth. If not treated, it can cause serious problems during pregnancy, including premature birth. If you have risk factors for preeclampsia, like you’ve had it before or you have high blood pressure or other health conditions, your provider may want you to take low-dose aspirin during pregnancy.

Quit smoking, drinking alcohol, using street drugs and misusing prescription drugs.

All of these can put your health and your baby’s health at risk and make you more likely to give birth early. Quitting or getting help to quit is the best thing you can do. Talk to your provider about programs that can help.

Learn the signs of preterm labor

Learning the signs and symptoms of preterm labor doesn’t reduce your risk of premature birth. But if you know them and know what to do if you have them, you can get treatment quickly that may help stop your labor. If you have any signs or symptoms of preterm labor, call your provider right away or go to the hospital.

Common pregnancy concerns: when should you call your provider?

Monday, August 28th, 2017

During pregnancy, it’s common to worry about every ache, pain, and unfamiliar feeling. But do you always need to contact your health care provider? Here is information to help you decide.

Bleeding

Up to half of all pregnant women have some bleeding or spotting during pregnancy. Although it may be common, it’s still important to let your health care provider know. Make sure you:

  • Keep track of how heavy you are bleeding, if the bleeding gets heavier or lighter, and how many pads you are using.
  • Check the color of the blood. It can be brown, dark or bright red.
  • Don’t use a tampon, douche or have sex when you’re bleeding.

Call your provider or go to the emergency room right away if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Heavy bleeding,
  • Bleeding with pain or cramping,
  • Dizziness and bleeding,
  • Pain in your belly or pelvis.

Abdominal Pain

As your baby grows, the muscles around the uterus pull and stretch. This can cause pain low in your belly. You may feel it most when you cough or sneeze. It usually goes away if you stay still for a bit or if you change to a different position.

But if your pain is severe, doesn’t go away, gets worse, or is accompanied by bleeding, you should call your provider right away.

Headaches

Headaches are common during pregnancy, especially in the first trimester. They’re often caused by pregnancy hormones, stress or body tension caused by carrying extra weight throughout pregnancy.

However, headaches may be sign of preeclampsia or other complications. You should call your provider if your headache:

  • Is severe or doesn’t go away,
  • Comes with fever, vision changes, slurred speech, sleepiness, numbness or not being able to stay alert,
  • Comes after falling or hitting your head,
  • Comes with a stuffy nose, pain and pressure under your eyes or a toothache. These may be signs of a sinus infection.

Vomiting

Morning sickness is nausea and vomiting that happens in the first few months of pregnancy. Even though it’s called morning sickness, it can happen any time of day.

At least 7 in 10 pregnant women (70%) have morning sickness in the first trimester. It usually starts at about 6 weeks and is at its worst at about 9 weeks. Most women feel better in their second trimester, but some have morning sickness throughout pregnancy. If you are experiencing any nausea or vomiting, let your provider know.

For most women, morning sickness is mild and goes away over time. But call your provider if:

  • Your morning sickness continues into the 4th month of pregnancy.
  • You lose more than 2 pounds.
  • Your vomit is brown in color or has blood in it. If so, call your provider right away.
  • You vomit more than 3 times a day and can’t keep food or fluids down.
  • Your heart beats faster than usual.
  • You’re tired or confused.
  • You’re making much less urine than usual or no urine at all.

Don’t take any medicine, supplement or herbal product to treat your symptoms without talking to your provider first. And if you are ever unsure whether or not you should call your provider, it’s better to call. Most likely your provider will be able to answer your question and put your mind at ease.

Have questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Why is prenatal care so important?

Friday, July 14th, 2017

Doctor with pregnant woman during check-upGetting early and regular prenatal care can help you have a healthy and full-term pregnancy. However, a recent report shows that the preterm birth rate in the US has increased for the second year in a row. This is an alarming indication that the health of pregnant women and babies in our country is getting worse. As Stacey D. Stewart, president of the March of Dimes states, “Every mother needs healthcare throughout her pregnancy to help avoid preterm birth and birth complications, with the goal of every baby being born healthy.”

So, what can you do to have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby? You should call your health care provider to schedule your first appointment as soon as you find out you’re pregnant. Make sure you’re ready to talk to your provider about:

  • The first day of your last menstrual period (also called LMP). Your provider can use this to help find out your baby’s due date.
  • Health conditions. Such as depression, diabetes, high blood pressure, and not being at a healthy weight. Conditions like these can cause problems during pregnancy. Tell your provider about your family health history.
  • Medicines. This includes prescription medicine, over-the-counter medicine, supplements and herbal products. Some medicines can hurt your baby if you take them during pregnancy, so you may need to stop taking it or switch to another medicine. Don’t stop or start taking any medicine without talking to your provider first. And tell your provider if you’re allergic to any medicine.
  • Your pregnancy history. Tell your provider if you’ve been pregnant before or if you’ve had trouble getting pregnant. Tell her if you’ve had any pregnancy complications or if you’ve had a premature baby (a baby born before 37 weeks of pregnancy), a miscarriage or stillbirth.
  • Smoking, drinking alcohol, using street drugs and abusing prescription drugs. All of these can hurt your baby.
  • Stress. Stress is worry, strain or pressure that you feel in response to things that happen in your life. Talk to your provide about ways to deal with and reduce your stress. High levels of stress can cause complications during pregnancy.
  • Your safety at home and work. Tell your provider about chemicals you use at home or work and about what kind of job you have.

Make sure you go to all of your prenatal care appointments, even if you feel fine. Going to all of your checkups gives your provider the chance to make sure you and your baby are healthy and allows you to ask any questions you may have (write them down before your appointment so you don’t forget).

The March of Dimes work to give every baby a healthy start is more vital than ever. We urge everyone concerned about the health of babies to make their voices heard by going to marchofdimes.org.

How does buying diapers support the March of Dimes?

Tuesday, July 11th, 2017

pampers photoToday’s guest post is written by Natalie Diaz, preemie mom, bestselling author of “What To Do When You’re Having Two” and founder of Twiniversity. Read her inspiring story below and how you can help support other families.

I’ve spent my share of time in the NICU; 31 days to be exact. Delivering my twins at exactly 34 weeks due to HELLP Syndrome (a variant of preeclampsia), my family got to learn the ins and outs of a section of the hospital I thought I would never want to visit, let alone stay in. In hindsight, the time I spent at the Mt. Sinai NICU in New York City was not only therapeutic for my twins, but life changing for me. The team there taught me more than I thought any new mom could learn; not just from the medical side of things, but also how to heal my heart emotionally after the trauma of an unexpected early delivery.

After the twins were born, I got involved with the March of Dimes. I participated in their “March for Babies” for years and raised money that went towards research, education, support, and advocacy to help preemie parents like myself. I know the only “cure” for my prenatal condition was the delivery of my twins, and perhaps just taking some literal steps could prevent that from happening to the next mom.

In 2009, I took my desire to help preemie twin parents a step further and launched Twiniversity. With over 60% of twin babies born prematurely, I wanted to offer a place online where families of twins could read about issues exclusive to our community and gain knowledge and insight, along with connections with other twin parents who’ve walked in their shoes. So not only could I support the March of Dimes during their annual walk, but now I could support families daily.

On July 11th, you can help support the March of Dimes without ever leaving your chair on Amazon’s Prime Day. Sign up for a new Pampers subscription on Amazon Prime Day and Pampers will donate $10 to the March of Dimes to support families with babies in the NICU – up to $160,000!

If you aren’t familiar with Prime Day, it’s an online shopping celebration exclusively for Amazon Prime Members, featuring amazing deals, exclusive opportunities, and now a way to give back. Not only can parents make sure their baby has the diapers they need at an affordable price by purchasing a Pampers subscription, but on Prime Day this purchase also provides information, expert advice, tools, and comfort for families with a sick or premature baby in the NICU as part of Pampers support of the March of Dimes.

Pampers will not just be making donations on Prime Day thanks to your subscriptions, but they will also host an hours long Facebook Live on the Pampers Facebook page, kicking off at 9am EST. With social media celebrity guests, real parents with real advice, and parenting experts, you can join the Prime Day party by tuning in and using the exclusive hashtag #Pampers4Preemies.

So join the Prime celebration, save money with Subscribe & Save, know your babies are covered with up to 12 hours of leak free protection from Pampers, and help support the March of Dimes all at the same time.

See you online on the 11th! I wouldn’t miss the Pampers Online Prime Day celebration for the world.

The March of Dimes does not endorse specific brands or products.

Preeclampsia: Impact on mom and baby

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017

May was Preeclampsia Awareness Month. We blogged about the signs, symptoms and causes of preeclampsia and how it may lead to premature birth. We also hosted a Twitter chat with Dr. Kjersti Aagaard of Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women, which generated some follow-up questions.

We’re happy to welcome back Dr. Aagaard and her colleague Dr. Martha Rac as guest bloggers. Both doctors are maternal-fetal medicine specialists at Texas Children’s. They will share some insight into who is most at risk of developing preeclampsia and how it can impact both mom and baby.

First, we must ask, who is at the highest risk for developing preeclampsia?

 Risk factors for preeclampsia include:

  • First time mothers
  • Pregnancy with a new partner than previous pregnancies – different partners may have varying genetic factors that may increase preeclampsia risk
  • Older mothers (>35 years old)
  • Black women
  • Medical problems including chronic high blood pressure, kidney disease, lupus, diabetes and heart disease
  • Pregnancies with multiples (twins, triplets, etc.)
  • Obesity
  • Preeclampsia in prior pregnancies
  • IVF pregnancies – particularly those with donor eggs. This is thought to occur as a result of genetic differences between the mother and fetus, causing the mother’s immune system to attack the “foreign” fetal tissue and cause excess inflammation.

In addition to the risk factors above, mothers with pregnancies spaced too closely together or very far apart can be at risk. Too close may be defined as 18 months or less and far apart as 4-5 years between pregnancies.

How does preeclampsia affect pregnancy?

Preeclampsia is classified as either mild or severe based on a woman’s symptoms, and how severely it affects her organs. It is a progressive disorder, which means that mild cases will eventually develop into severe preeclampsia, if not treated.

Preeclampsia can be very dangerous to both the mother and the baby. The very high blood pressure associated with preeclampsia can result in anything from seizures, stroke, liver and kidney dysfunction, bleeding problems, placental detachment and even death if left untreated.

If a mother-to-be suspects she may be experiencing preeclampsia, she should contact her doctor immediately.

How does preeclampsia impact the baby?

 This dangerous disorder can cause the baby’s growth to be restricted and increases the risk of stillbirth. In the most severe cases, preterm delivery may be required which may then expose the baby to the complications of prematurity such as under-developed organs, breathing difficulties, jaundice, anemia, a lowered immune system, etc.

In the worst cases, fetal death can occur from a sudden detachment of the placenta from the uterus.

For these reasons, women diagnosed with preeclampsia undergo additional monitoring such as: ultrasounds every 4 weeks to evaluate fetal growth, lab work to determine if there is multi-organ involvement, etc. and delivery no later than 37 weeks.

If you are worried you are at risk of developing this dangerous disorder, please be sure to consult with your doctor and discuss your concerns immediately.

Dr. Kjersti AagaardDr. Martha Rac

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many thanks to Dr. Aagaard  (left) and Dr. Rac  (right) for contributing their expertise.