When I was pregnant with my daughter Hattie, I was aware of preeclampsia. Working with prenatal women, I knew the warning signs and often discussed it with clients. In my previous experience, it was a gradual thing. Usually there were signs of high blood pressure before other symptoms. Usually you were diagnosed and then monitored for changes to determine the safest course of action for both you and baby.
What I didn’t expect was that
It would happen to me and
It would come on suddenly.
July 26th started out like any old day. I was still very pregnant and was having some prodromal labor contractions off and on, which had been happening for about 3 weeks prior to that. Those contractions had already caused 2 labor and delivery false alarms. I was told to rest as much as I could to hopefully keep the contractions manageable. Plus with contractions for the past 3 weeks and just being 36 weeks pregnant, I was not getting quality of sleep at night.
I got bored of resting and felt like I needed to do something (hello nesting) so I started to clean the house. Over the course of the day I started to get a headache. I figured I wasn’t drinking enough water. So I drank more water and continued going about my day.
The water didn’t help.
I thought maybe I was low on magnesium so I took an epsom salt bath.
That didn’t help either.
I had gotten headaches even before pregnancy so this wasn’t alarming to me. I thought maybe it was a tension headache from stress and my body trying to compensate for the growing baby in my uterus so I took some Tylenol and went to rest on my heating pad while watching tv to attempt to relax
At this point it had been several hours since the headache started and it was not getting better and in fact it was getting a little worse. It wasn’t until my vision started to get blurry that I thought to check my blood pressure.
140/91. Barely the about the high point cut off. I called the triage number and explained my symptoms.
They recommended coming in just to be safe but it was probably nothing. So I made my 3rd trip to labor and delivery, fully expecting to get sent home again.
They took my blood pressure and it was within range, and did a blood panel to check my protein level. If it was normal, I was going home.
It was not normal. They want to see protein below .3. Mine was 1.8 which put me in the severe pre-eclampsia range. That changed the plan to go home very quickly. The new plan was to induce that night and I would need to be on magnesium, which prevented me from getting out of bed. I would have to have blood drawn every 4 hours and I would no longer be able to be monitored by a midwife as I was considered high risk.
In the course of 30 minutes my entire birth plan had changed. Talk about switching things up.
I had no other symptoms that pointed to pre-eclampsia. Yet, I am so glad I listened to my gut that something was off because it led to a safe delivery for both myself and my beautiful daughter.
If you are currently pregnant and have any of the following symptoms, please talk to your health care provider.m, even if you don’t have the traditional high blood pressure:
headache that won’t go away
Changes in vision
Swelling of hands/feet
Rapid heart rate
Severe nausea or vomiting
Severe belly pain that doesn’t go away (although it may come in waves)
Decreased fetal movement
Sudden weight gain