If I had a dollar for everything I worried about while I was pregnant, I probably wouldn't consider vegan cookie butter a luxury item. It's almost a pregnancy rite of passage to search online for mystery medical symptoms in the middle of the night. But there are some things you shouldn't just chalk up to hormones or hypochondria. In fact, there are quite a few subtle, early signs of preeclampsia you shouldn't ignore. If you haven't already seen this term on pamphlets in your doctor's office, it's not as complicated as the name might sound. Also referred to as toxemia, the American Pregnancy Association (APA) noted that preeclampsia is a form of high blood pressure which can restrict the blood flow to your organs, placenta, and developing baby. It's also worth noting that anyone can experience this pregnancy complication.
Though you've probably already done your fair amount of research, certain symptoms can fly under the radar of even the most watchful eye. Since I had a high-risk pregnancy, my medical team made sure I knew exactly what to look out for, no matter how insignificant it may seem. But for most expectant mothers, you might worry about what is or isn't a potential problem. To help put your mind at ease, check out these early signs of preeclampsia.
1. You Have A Family History
Just because you might not have experienced certain health issues before doesn't mean you can rule things out during pregnancy. According to the APA, having female relatives with a history of high blood pressure could be the earliest indicator of preeclampsia. You can talk to your doctor to figure out how to approach things.
2. You're Puffy
Are your rings and shoes getting a little snug? Though some swelling is normal when it comes to pregnancy, pay attention to your extremities. According to the medical experts at Baby Center, an increase or sudden swelling in your hands, feet, or face is a sign of preeclampsia. Again, it's best to have a medical professional confirm the condition.
3. Your Urine Is Foamy
According to the medical journal, American Family Physician, protein in your urine is associated with preeclampsia. Since you probably don't have a handy urinalysis kit just laying around, one way you can detect a subtle sign that your kidneys are letting protein pass through is if your urine looks frothy or bubbly, as the American Kidney Fund explained.
4. Your Vision Is Blurry
Since high blood pressure causes your blood vessels to constrict, various parts of the body can be affected. One notable manifestation of preeclampsia is a change in vision, according to the Mayo Clinic. The lack of a healthy blood flow to the tiny blood vessels in your eyes could cause blurriness or a sensitivity to light as well.
5. Your Chest Hurts
Before being diagnosed with preeclampsia a friend of mine thought she was having a heart attack at first. It's an easy mistake to make since pain in your chest, shoulder, or upper right abdomen are signs of preeclampsia, as OB-GYN Dr. Virginia R. Lupo told Parents. You might want to check in with your doctor if it isn't just acid reflux causing your chest discomfort.
6. You're Bruising
Everyone gets random bumps and marks from time to time. If you're particularly clumsy, you might even miss this indicator altogether. According to the APA, preeclampsia can cause you to bruise easily due to the impaired blood flow throughout your body. Keep an eye out if you seem to be getting dinged up more than usual.
7. Your Head Aches
A headache is a very common ailment and most people simply take an over the counter medicine to relieve their symptoms. However, if you have worsening or frequent headaches during pregnancy, preeclampsia could be the culprit, according to the Mayo Clinic. It never hurts to verify with a physician that your migraine is just a migraine.