Pregnancy: Pre-eclampsia [video]

Video author: Streaming Well
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Video Transcript
Pregnancy - pre-eclampsia

Dr. Carol Cooper, General Practitioner: Pregnancy is a natural event, but sometimes there are complications. One of the main reasons for getting antenatal care is to pick up the pre-eclampsia. It's a condition that every mum to be should know about because it's serious, it threatens your baby, and it's also a leading cause of women dying in pregnancy. Pre-eclampsia is more common in first-time mums. There are other risk factors too, such as a BMI of 35 or more or being age 40 or older.

If you had pre-eclampsia before, you're also more likely to develop it again, and the same goes if you've got a close family history of the condition. Remember to ask your mother if she had toxaemia because that's the old name for pre-eclampsia. Pre-eclampsia is due to some abnormality of the placenta, but it's actually a multi-system disorder. It usually comes on in the last 3 months of pregnancy, although it can appear any time after 20 weeks.

It causes raised blood pressure and makes protein appear in the urine, and those are things you have to test for. Pre-eclampsia usually causes no symptoms at all. But some symptoms, if they occur, are very significant, so look out for these in late pregnancy: headache with or without vomiting--it's often like a migraine--any visual disturbances like flashing lights or blurred vision or seeing spots before the eyes, and any upper abdominal pain or pain just below the ribs, possibly on the right-hand side. Pre-eclampsia can also affect the nutrition of your baby, so you may start feeling fewer movements.

If you develop any of these symptoms or if your baby is moving less, get medical advice urgently. This could be your obstetrician, your midwife, your GP, or the labor ward. Going to A&E usually means you'll see someone who is less experienced in dealing with complications of pregnancy, so it's not usually the best plan.

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