By: Nikki Nies

Pregnant women not only have to worry about eating well, fulfilling regular daily responsibilities, but also about long term health complications of baby and herself.  It’s a large load to ask of someone, but it’s almost a requirement for a healthy outcome for mother and baby.  Conditions, such as pre eclampsia and eclampsia are preventable, yet are necessary to understand if pregnant or trying to become pregnant.

Formerly known as toxemia, preclampsia is like pre-diabetes.  One hasn’t been diagnosed with pre eclampsia, but red flags emerged. I’m into my second paragraph and have yet to define preeclampsia.  No worries.  Preeclampsia is when a women develops high blood pressure and protein in the urine after the 20th week of pregnancy (between the 2nd and 3rd trimester).

The specific cause of preeclampsia is not conclusive, but may be due to diet, genes, autoimmune disorder and/or blood vessel problems.  Additional risk factors include being one’s first pregnancy, obesity, over the age of 35, multiple pregnancy–twins, triplets, etc.; and/or a history of high blood pressure, kidney disease or a history of heart disease.

Symptoms of preeclampsia include: preeclampsia-pih

  • Swelling [edema] of extremities
  • Sudden weight gain within 1-2 weeks
  • Chronic headache
  • Irritability
  • Decreased urine output
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Vision change
  • Abdomen pain
  • Proteinuria

Proteins are normally confined to one’s blood, but with proteinuria, proteins entire one’s urine due to the lack of “filtering” of urine.

A physician will check one’s blood pressure for indications of preeclampsia.  Blood and urine tests may show proteinuria, higher than normal liver enzymes and/or platelet count with less than 100,000.


  •  The only true cure is the delivery of one’s baby–c section or medications may be used to induce labor
  • If delivery is not impending, it may be recommended to consume less salt, bed rest, plenty of water, medications to lower blood pressure and/or frequent visits for monitoring by physician.

Hopefully, preeclampsia will go away within 6 weeks of delivery.  With future pregnancies, the likelihood of preeclampsia increases dramatically.  Complications from preeclampsia can include severe bleeding, premature separation of placenta, stroke, rupture of liver and/or death.


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