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Pregnancy Complications: Preeclampsia

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What is preeclampsia?
Preeclampsia is normally characterized by high blood pressure, fluid retention that first shows up in the second half of pregnancy, and protein in the urine.

Preeclampsia can range from mild to severe, and is treatable. Since preeclampsia can severely restrict the flow of blood to the placenta, it can be quite dangerous for a developing baby. If it's not treated it can develop into eclampsia, a serious condition that can cause convulsions. Eclampsia can be very dangerous for a mother and her unborn child.

Is there anything I can do to prevent it?
There's no real way to prevent preeclampsia. The best thing you can do is get good prenatal care. At each visit your healthcare provider will check your blood pressure and your urine for protein. These regular checks can help catch preeclampsia while it's still in its earliest stages.

How is preeclampsia treated?
Most women that have been diagnosed with preeclampsia are put on bed rest. While on bed rest, you may be instructed to lie on your left side, which some experts think improves blood flow to the uterus and kidneys.  In many cases, blood pressure returns to normal with this care. Your medical practitioner will probably see whether bed rest at home helps lower your blood pressure before taking other measures, but some doctors like to admit women to the hospital as soon as their blood pressure goes up. If your blood pressure can't be reduced, your healthcare professional may suggest medication or that you deliver your baby either by cesarean section or by induced labor.

If you show any signs of swelling, don't hesitate to call your doctor or midwife. Early detection and care can make a big difference in the course of preeclampsia al your overall health and your unborn Childs health.


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