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Pre-Eclampsia, a tale of a mother with it

Tuesday, 28 June 2016  | 

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When I was pregnant of my daughter I was always very anxious as I had previously gone through a missed-miscarriage with my first pregnancy (very early at about 6 weeks). I tried to relax as much as I could and take things easy. I was in good health, never smoked, good BMI and I had never had any health problems so I was surprised that at my 36 week check that things didn't go to well.

When they told me that I had hypertension (high blood pressure) and that it was dangerously high and I had to go to the hospital, I was shocked. I didn't feel any symptoms such as dizziness or blurred vision I just felt normal. The hospital tested my blood and urine and they w here looking for signs of Pre-Eclampsia, I had never heard of it before, so what is Pre-Eclampsia?

It is a dangerous condition that usually occurs in the 3rd trimester of pregnancy. If it is not treated then it could progress into Eclampsia or HELLP Syndrome which could cause death of the mother and baby. The protein in the urine is a sign that your kidneys and liver are not working properly and could start to fail. A healthy persons diastolic blood pressure is usually 80 or below, mine was around the 100 range which was high. If over /100 you are at risk of seizures. I am sure that it is rare in this Country as the NHS take good care of us well I felt like they did with me. The only cure for Pre-E is to delivery your baby as your body is basically starting to reject the placenta. So at 36 weeks I was diagnosed with hypertension (no pre-e yet) and I was kept in the maternity ward overnight and monitored. I was given Labetalol to bring my blood pressure down and it worked. I think I took 200mg 4 times a day in the end as I remember them upping it. The next day I was sent for growth scan as they thought that my bump was measuring small but thankfully everything was ok and I was discharged.

I was told to come back in a few days for a morning of BP monitoring, i was also advised not to go back to work as I was still working full-time at this point. So I was sent home with the medication Labetalol and some urine test sticks to keep an eye out for any protein in my urine which could be a warning sign. I had to test for protein daily and I was told that I would now see a midwife twice a week for blood pressure checks. Week 38 - I was due to attend the labour and delivery antenatal class and I was really looking forward to it, we got there early so that the midwife could check my BP. The midwife came over and strapped the familiar band around my arm and I waited in silence. She did it once and didn't say anything, she said let me try your other arm, again she looked worried. She called the other midwife over for a second opinion and I already knew the outcome at this point. She said 'are you getting what I am getting?' 'yes' I didn't need them to tell me as I knew what it meant. My BP was crazy high again at around the 100 mark again so we were sent back to the hospital. By now the whole class had come in and obviously knew something was up.

I was scared and thoughts of an emergency C-section filled my head, something that I wanted to avoid. At the hospital I had my blood and urine taken again and we began waiting (the standard wait for the blood test was 2 hours) so we listened to our daughters heartbeat on the monitor and connected our phones to the free Wi-Fi to pass the time. My BP was hanging around the /98 mark and they don't class it as dangerous until its /100 or over so I was sent home. Again to be monitored twice a week. 40 weeks came and went thankfully and I couldn't wait to meet my daughter. I had a sweep but it did nothing. At 40 + 4 my husband was at work and my urine showed a small amount of protein so I phoned the midwife who told me not to worry as it wasn't a lot and that I due to see a midwife that afternoon who would check it for me. I remember it was a red-hot summers day and I had a slow walk to the Dr's, I was hungry as I hadn't eaten much dinner but I planned to when I got home. The midwife examined me and my blood pressure was just over 100, so high enough to be classed as dangerous. I knew the drill and I was shipped off to the hospital again. I tried to relax and my In Laws came to picked me up. I contacted my husband who was at work an hour away and told him not to worry as the blood test usually take 2 hours to come back anyway. We got to the hospital and I went straight to the tuck shop as I was starving and I knew that I had a long wait ahead. I bought my favourite snacks and a bottle of pop and I went up to the ward. I was immediately monitored and my blood pressure was still the highest it had ever been (going up to /125 at its highest). I had protein in my urine and I was given medication to bring my BP down, but it didn't work. Again I was so surprised that I had no symptoms and that I felt normal, I was terrified of what was going to happen.

The Dr came and told me that I had pre eclampsia and that I was not leaving the hospital without a baby, she told me that they where going to induce me and that I was not allowed to eat or drink anything! I was shocked and worried but excited to meet my daughter. So off I went into a delivery room with my MIL by my side, my husband was informed and set out from work. There was about 6 nurses in my room who got out this big box called 'pre eclampsia' they started reading instructions and making up solutions for my drips. I had a student nurse who was putting cannulas in each of my hands and I don't know who was shaking more me or her. I was told that I had to have a drug called magnesium sulphate (to prevent having a seizure) and that it would make me feel all warm. I was also put on a saline drip and later on a drip to start contractions.

I had a catheter put in which hurt, I was starting to feel overwhelmed and panicked at what was happening to me. I was having my blood pressure taken by a machine every 15 minutes and I had some nice bruises on my arms afterwards from all the BP readings. I wasn't allowed to move from the bed due to being hooked up to everything and after 16 hrs 44 minutes my daughter was born. I had pethadine, epidural, forceps and a episiotomy. I ended up with an emergency delivery as her heart rate dropped as she had the cord around her neck. Thankfully we were both fine and I had to stay in hospital for 5 days as my BP was still high. I was on labetalol for 6 weeks after the birth and I had to have a daily injection of Fragmin a blood thinner due to being high risk of blood clots. After my first night at home the midwife came to check on us and my BP was high again so I was sent straight back to the hospital, the same ward. I cried I was so sad and I just wanted to be home and start our new family life together. It was hard as most mothers went home the next day and some even the same day but I was on the ward the longest.

I was discharged that evening and I still always worry now when I have a routine BP check that it's going to be high as I just don't feel any different. I am now at greater risk of getting it again but if we decided to have more children then I will be under a consultant who will keep a closer eye on me. I wanted to write this post to raise awareness of Pre-Eclampsia as I hadn't heard of it before having my daughter. Even at the time things happened so fast I didn't have time to process was it meant or what was wrong with me. I am one of the lucky ones though as some ladies who develop pre - e further go on to develop eclampsia or HELLP Syndrome and often they deliver their babies very early 20-25 weeks as that is the only cure. Pre-E can come anytime in the 3rd trimester (sometimes even after delivery, but it's rare) I was very lucky to get to full term and be treated by the NHS.

 

I am forever grateful for that as I know that if I lived in 3rd world country me and my daughter most likely wouldn't have survived. Have you been effected by Pre-Eclampsia or know anyone who has? - Jodie x  

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