What are the symptoms?
Preeclampsia sometimes develops without any symptoms. High blood pressure may develop
slowly, but more commonly it has a sudden onset. Monitoring your blood pressure
is an important part of prenatal care because the first sign of preeclampsia is
commonly a rise in blood pressure. Blood pressure that is 140/90 millimeters of
mercury (mm Hg) or greater — documented on two occasions, at least four hours apart
— is abnormal.
Other signs and symptoms of preeclampsia may include :
- Excess protein in your urine (proteinuria) or additional signs of kidney problems
- Severe headaches
- Changes in vision, including temporary loss of vision, blurred vision or light sensitivity
- Upper abdominal pain, usually under your ribs on the right side
- Nausea or vomiting
- Decreased urine output
- Decreased levels of platelets in your blood (thrombocytopenia)
- Impaired liver function
- Shortness of breath, caused by fluid in your lungs
Sudden weight gain and swelling (edema) — particularly in your face and hands —
often accompanies preeclampsia. But these things also occur in many normal pregnancies,
so they're not considered reliable signs of preeclampsia.
Who is at risk for preeclampsia?
The following may increase the risk of developing preeclampsia :
- A first-time mom
- Previous experience with gestational hypertension or preeclampsia
- Women whose sisters and mothers had preeclampsia
- Women carrying multiple babies
- Women younger than 20 years and older than age 40
- Women who had high blood pressure or kidney disease prior to pregnancy
- Women who are obese or have a BMI of 30 or greater
What are the possible complications of preeclampsia?
Most women with preeclampsia do not develop serious complications. The risk of complications
increases the more severe the preeclampsia becomes. The risk of complications is
reduced if preeclampsia is diagnosed early and treated.
For the mother
Serious complications are uncommon but include the following :
- Eclampsia (described above)
- Liver, kidney, and lung problems
- A blood clotting disorder
- Bleeding into the brain (a stroke)
- Severe bleeding from the afterbirth (placenta)
- HELLP syndrome. This occurs in about 1 in 5 women who have severe preeclampsia.
HELLP stands for 'Haemolysis, Elevated Liver enzymes and Low Platelets', which are
some of the medical features of this severe form of preeclampsia. Haemolysis means
that your blood cells start to break down. Elevated liver enzymes means that your
liver has become affected. Low platelets means that the number of platelets in your
blood is low and you are at risk of serious bleeding problems. The job of platelets
is to help your blood to clot.
For the baby
The poor blood supply in the placenta can reduce the amount of food and oxygen reaching
the growing baby. On average, babies of mothers with preeclampsia tend to be smaller.
There is also an increased risk of premature birth and of stillbirth. Babies are
also more likely to develop breathing problems after they are born.
How can I prevent preeclampsia?
Currently, there is no sure way to prevent preeclampsia. Some contributing factors
to high blood pressure can be controlled and some can’t. Follow your doctor’s instruction
about diet and exercise.
- Use little or no added salt in your meals.
- Drink 6-8 glasses of water a day.
- Don’t eat a lot of fried foods and junk food.
- Get enough rest.
- Exercise regularly.
- Elevate your feet several times during the day.
- Avoid drinking alcohol.
- Avoid beverages containing caffeine.
- Eating a calcium rich diet may be able to help reduce the risk of developing preeclampsia
- Good sources of calcium include cheese, milk, yogurt, kale, Chinese cabbage, broccoli
and foods fortified with calcium such as fruit juice and cereal.
- Eating foods high in vitamin C and E may also help prevent preeclampsia. These foods
include cantaloupe, kiwi, whole grains, cabbage, egg yolks, seeds, sardines, tomatoes
and citrus fruits.
- Get your vitamin D; 20 minutes of sun a day is all you need.
- Get at least 75 grams of protein a day
- Stay hydrated.
- Do some pregnancy yoga and meditation under guidance.
- Do some Pranayam (breathing exercise) regularly.
Though there is no direct mention of Preeclampsia in Ayurveda, but some symptoms
as complication of pregnancy have been described. It can be termed as Garbhajanya
The main symptoms are :
- Shopha (Oedema)
- Paad Shotha (Pedal oedema )
- Mutra alpata (Oliguria)
- Aakshepa (Convulsions)
- Sangyanasha (Coma)
In Preeclampcia , Ayurveda helps in limiting the maternal and fetal complications
. Herbs are helpful as a supportive treatment along with the modern medicine under
supervision. Herbs : Garlic ( Allium sativum ) , Punarnava ( Boerhavia diffusa )
, Gokshur ( Tribulus terrestris ) , Shatavari ( Asparagus racemosus ) , rasayan
churna etc can be given under supervision .
Other activities such as walk, meditation, deep breathing etc are also helpful.