What is Pre-eclampsia?
Updated: Apr 7, 2019
It's really great to see that the NHS are now going to offer mums to be a new blood test for Pre-eclampsia. I wish they offered it when I was pregnant with Millie!! It is so important that women take this test.. I thought I would write a post on our experience of Pre eclampsia, so that you can understand why I am so happy they have introduced this.
I had never heard of Pre-eclampsia before I was diagnosed. There was no family history of it (that I knew of) and I had no idea of the symptoms to look out for. We only managed to catch it as my face, feet and hands swelled up one weekend. We had been packing up our house in Bedfordshire ready for moving, my parents had seen me on the Saturday, and commented that I didn't look well. My husband and I thought I looked a bit swollen, but just put it down to having done too much packing and general tiredness from the pregnancy.
When the swelling hadn't passed the following day, we called '111' who told us to go into A&E. When I got to A&E they took a urine sample and blood test then sent me home saying it was all OK, but to check in with my midwife back in Derby when we got back. As soon as I saw my midwife, she couldn't believe they had sent me away. I was still swollen, my blood pressure was through the roof and I had a significant amount of protein in my urine. This was when I heard the first about Pre-eclampsia.
When I tell people this was the reason I had Millie early, most have asked if that is what Sybil died of in Downton Abbey - yes.. it was! Nowadays, Pre-eclampsia affects up to 6% of pregnancies in the UK. My Pre-eclampsia was classified as severe, which only affects 1-2% of pregnancies in the UK.
As I have written about in my previous posts, my experience in hospital was intense - countless blood tests and urine samples were taken. I was given a magnesium sulphate drip to stop the Pre-eclampsia developing into Eclampsia. That was horrible - It made me feel so hot. I was sweating and tingling all over, and felt extremely weak and confused. I was also on oral medication every few hours to keep my blood pressure down, and my fluid / food intake was significantly reduced just in case I had to go in for a C section. They had warned us the delivery was imminent, but no one knew exactly when it would happen. The best thing for Millie was to stay in the womb, but they explained to us that when the time came (apparently we would know when it was time?!..) my life would take priority over Millie's. I honestly didn't care about anything except Millie, but the consultant was adamant it would be my life before hers, and there was no changing that.
The morning she was delivered I did know it was time. I had been struggling all night with excruciating headaches and blurred vision. They had started testing my reflex's more, and they were becoming slower. I remember the consultant had been called from home. She was due in a board meeting, but had come straight to us instead. She had been with us throughout my time in high intensity and wanted to be the one to deliver Millie. She was honestly absolutely incredible. I never saw her again, after she delivered our little miracle, but I couldn't be more thankful for everything she did for us - and for Millie. I keep meaning to write to her, and thank her for everything she did for us. I will find time one day!
I was cured as soon as the placenta was delivered, and luckily had no further complications. 1 in 6 women who have Pre-eclampsia, will have it again in future pregnancies. However, now that I am aware of this, there are drugs which can be given to me from the start of pregnancy to avoid it developing. No one knows what causes Pre-eclampsia, more research needs to be done into this area. However, it is thought there is a link between Pre-eclampsia and problems with the placenta. So while I went through the days after Millie's birth blaming myself for her premature birth, I couldn't change anything. It is only because of the great work of the midwife picking up the diagnosis and consultant in successfully delivering Millie at the right time, that this beautiful little girl and I are here today. We couldn't thank them enough.
What an incredible job they do...