Preeclampsia is a medical condition that appears only during pregnancy. It’s characteristics may be quite distinct. However, if the condition is mild, it is important to be familiar with all common symptoms and contact the doctor in a timely manner. There is also a connection between surrogacy and preeclampsia. Further we will additionally discuss what can intended parents do to make their parenthood journey less complicated.
What is preeclampsia?
Preeclampsia is a complication that may appear only during pregnancy. It will usually start after 20 weeks of gestation. It is important to diagnose preeclampsia and treat it on time. Otherwise, the condition can lead to fatal consequences for baby and a mother.
The most common symptoms of preeclampsia are high blood pressure (more than 140/90 mmHg) and protein in the urine (proteinuria).
High blood pressure solely does not necessarily indicate preeclampsia. For example, gestational hypertension is a condition of having high blood pressure during pregnancy, but without extra protein in urine or problems with any other organs. However, there are cases when gestational hypertension ultimately develops to preeclampsia.
When the condition is more severe, symptoms can be accompanied with:
- severe headaches
- abdominal pains
- blurred vision or sensitivity to light
- shortness of breath
- seldom urination
Swollen hands and legs can sometimes characterize preeclampsia.
Fatigue, dizziness and nausea may also be signs of preeclampsia and in order not to confuse them with the symptoms of pregnancy, it is essential that pregnant females attend prenatal checkups regularly.
On the appointment, doctor will check blood pressure, make urine and blood tests. Usually doctors will check kidneys, because preeclampsia can affect them too. Ultrasound may be needed to make sure that baby is growing as supposed.
We already know that during pregnancy, baby gets oxygen and food through placenta. Preeclampsia can prevent placenta from getting enough blood. Insufficient blood flow to placenta means that baby will get less nutrients and oxygen finally resulting in premature birth. Preeclampsia can also be the reason of placental abruption(placenta separating from the uterus) finally resulting in a stillbirth. Preterm labour is also a common occurrence when having preeclampsia.
There are no known causes of preeclampsia. However, several factors have been identified to be potentially risky:
- Having experienced preeclampsia during previous pregnancies
- Chronic hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Being pregnant with multiple babies (ex: twins, triplets…)
- Being pregnant for the first time
- Babies from different partner on second or further pregnancies
- Having body mass index (BMI) 30 or higher, referred to as obesity
- History of chronic high blood pressure, kidney diseases , blood clotting before pregnancy.
- Age (younger than 20 or older than 40)
- Genetic factors (sister or mother had preeclampsia)
Preeclampsia is not only a threat to a baby. In future moms, it can cause complications including :
- fluid in the lungs
- heart failure of cardiovascular disease
- problems in kidneys, liver or even eyes. If severe, preeclampsia can seriously affect other organs.
Complications may also include:
Hemolysis (HELLP) which is a more complicated and severe form of preeclampsia and can cause fatal consequences for mother and a baby. HELLP causes the disruption of red blood cells, erythrocytes. Hemolysis is a threat for other organ systems.
If preeclampsia is accompanied by seizure, then the condition develops to eclampsia. Because of its severnes, independant from the stage of pregnancy, the delivery becomes unavoidable.
Treatment and consequences
If the symptoms are mild and the baby is not yet developed sufficiently, doctor may advise a bed rest, consumption of plenty of water as well as food rich in proteins. Medicines to lower blood pressure may be prescribed. Regular prenatal checkups are required to control the course of pregnancy. With the help of ultrasounds, doctor will have to check the heartbeat of a baby. Steroid injections are sometimes used to accelerate the development of baby’s lungs.
Actually, the only cure to preeclampsia is the delivery. Doctor may have to induce the labour, even if mother is not close to term. When preeclampsia is severe and fetus is on the early stage of development, parents and doctor might have to discuss fatal consequences that could be caused by keeping the fetus.
Of course, it is better to be as close to due date as possible. For example after 37 weeks of gestation, when the baby is usually developed enough, delivery is the only option to keep preeclampsia from getting worse. In this case, usually both, mother and baby do just fine.
Surrogacy and Preeclampsia
Professional surrogacy agencies control the health of a surrogate mother regularly. Basically one of the main things intended parents should ensure is that their agency is going to screen the surrogate frequently. It is important that parents are always updated with the information about health of a surrogate and their baby.
Experienced agencies and clinics are already familiar and have experienced patients with most of the pregnancy complications. While some of the conditions are easier to control and manipulate than preeclampsia, the agency will not hesitate to explain their approach to this health condition and share best practices from their experience.
Remember, that the desired results are not always achieved on the first try. In fact, a lot of good things come after times of struggle and failure. There is certainly quite a high possibility to make everything work out just fine, however, it’s important to have a solid, stable and well thought backup plan(s). Same applies for surrogacy agencies and at some point, this is what intended parents should care about in the beginning too.