Before I get into my story, let’s talk about what preeclampsia is. It’s a disorder that can happen during pregnancy, causing high blood pressure and too much protein in the urine. Preeclampsia usually shows up after the 20th week of pregnancy and can be really dangerous for both the mom and the baby. Though the exact cause is not clear, experts think it might be related to how the placenta develops early on in the pregnancy.
The Signs and Symptoms:
Preeclampsia comes with various signs and symptoms, including high blood pressure, kidney problems, low platelet count, and liver issues. It can lead to severe headaches, changes in vision, trouble breathing (which I had), and pain in the upper belly, among other things. Sudden weight gain and swelling in the face and hands can also be red flags. This is a great article by Lily Nichols on various lifestyle modifications that could help prevent preeclampsia.
My Experience with Preeclampsia:
During my pregnancy with Emma, I decided to go with a midwife group in Santa Monica, mostly because I wanted a more holistic approach and the convenience of being close to home. The care was spread out among different midwives, which felt a bit odd, but I went along with it, mostly for convenience since my 4-year-old was at home, and I wanted to be close.
As my pregnancy progressed, my blood pressure readings were borderline high, and the nurses would ask for repeat tests. Towards the end, I noticed swelling in my feet, huffing and puffing while walking, and my blood pressure kept rising. However, my midwife didn’t seem too concerned and told me to monitor it at home. My gut told me something wasn’t right, so I started researching and came across preeclampsia. I called my midwife and insisted on further testing.
Being proactive and trusting my instincts saved me and my baby’s life. The test results came into my portal and showed some concerning signs. So I called the midwife group and expressed my worries, and as a result, they rushed me in for an emergency induction. This occurred in the middle of the night, so my husband had to stay home with our 4-year-old, Eden. I checked in alone and began my induction on my own. He joined me in the morning after taking Eden to school. When I checked in, my blood pressure was dangerously high, and they put me on a couple of different medications to stabilize it. After 3 long days, medication, and blood pressure monitoring every 15 minutes, Emma was born naturally after 20 minutes of pushing. It was a miracle, and I don’t think I realized how lucky we were that this is how things ended for us.
I can’t emphasize enough how crucial it is to be the CEO of your health. Nobody knows your body better than you do. Practitioners and hospital staff are busy and don’t have the bandwidth to pay attention and care for you the way you can. If something doesn’t feel right, speak up and ask for tests. If you get results that look off and no one is calling you, call them. Being proactive and understanding your health data can be life-saving. Preeclampsia is serious and can be life-threatening, but being our own advocates can help catch it early and make a difference. Also, it’s okay to leave and switch to a different doctor or midwife group if it doesn’t feel like the right fit, even in your third trimester. This is something that I regret not doing.
WeNatal can support you:
WeNatal contains nutrients that can help prevent preeclampsia such as Vitamin D, zinc and magnesium. Many studies have shown that the risk of preeclampsia is increased when vitamin D serum level is low. In addition, vitamin D during pregnancy can help reduce the incidence of preeclampsia in women who are at high risk of preeclampsia. Other research shows that magnesium and zinc have a significant effect on the prevention of preeclampsia.
My preeclampsia journey taught me to take charge of my health. Questioning medical advice, seeking second opinions, and staying informed about our bodies are crucial. I hope sharing my story inspires others to be proactive about their health, trust their instincts, and always advocate for themselves.