What Is Preeclampsia? Plus 3 Ways To Lower Your Risk

Ad failed to load

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I was one of those “model” patients. I barely gained any weight, I never had any issues, and my blood pressure was a perfect 120/80 at every appointment. I didn’t even bother reading the pamphlets my midwife gave me on hypertension or asked, “What is preeclampsia?” With my health and my checkups going so well, it didn’t seem like information I needed. Until I was about three weeks out from my due date. I gained nearly thirty pounds in a month from retaining fluid and my blood pressure went from a perfect number to hitting 150/100. I was diagnosed with preeclampsia.

If, like me, you never bothered to read up on it, preeclampsia is a pregnancy condition characterized by high blood pressure and protein in your urine. (One of the reasons why you’re peeing in a cup at every appointment.) There are other symptoms such as swelling, sudden weight gain, headaches, and problems with your vision. According to the Preeclampsia Foundation, five to eight percent of pregnancies are affected by the condition and it, along with other hypertensive disorders, is responsible for 76,000 maternal deaths globally per year.

Without proper treatment, preeclampsia can have very serious complications that affect both the mother and the baby. The American Pregnancy Associated noted that a mother can go into liver or renal failure, and experience seizures from the high blood pressure. For your baby, preeclampsia can prevent your placenta from receiving enough blood. Without it, your baby has less oxygen and food, often resulting a low birth weight.

Ad failed to load

Although the true cause of preeclampsia is unknown, there are a few factors that can increase your risks. According to the American Pregnancy Association, if you are a first-time mom, experienced high blood pressure before pregnancy, or had preeclampsia in a previous pregnancy, you’re at a higher risk for the condition. Other factors like your age (younger than 20 and older than 40), obesity, carrying multiples, or a family history of preeclampsia can affect your chances, too.

The only cure for preeclampsia? Delivery. But this isn’t always a viable option if you’re early in your pregnancy. Some doctors may prescribe antihypertensives, which are medications to lower your blood pressure according to the Mayo Clinic. The Preeclampsia Foundation also noted on their website that an anticonvulsant like magnesium sulfate may be prescribed to lower the risk of seizing.

Because there’s no true cause of preeclampsia and just about anyone can get it, there’s no real guideline on how to prevent it. But the American Pregnancy Association does recommend the following three tips on keeping your risk of being affected by preeclampsia low.

Ad failed to load

1. Lower Your Salt Intake

Too much sodium means your body holds on to water to try to flush out all of the salt. The Cleveland Clinic notes that, in some, this can cause your blood pressure to rise as the extra water puts pressure on your blood vessels.

Ad failed to load

2. Avoid Caffeine

Although research hasn’t proven that caffeine can always affect your blood pressure, Mayo Clinic notes that is has the potential, especially if you rarely drink the stuff. Go ahead and limit your intake just to be on the safe side.

Ad failed to load

3. Elevate Your Feet

While not all swelling is a result of preeclampsia, it can mean you’re on your feet too long and possibly raise your blood pressure, according to Prevention. So do yourself a solid and take lots of rests to prop your feet up.

Ad failed to load

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

These Millennial Parents Are Taking Gender-Neutral Parenting To An Entirely New Level

A woman on the subway looks at my bulbous shape and asks, “What are you having?” I take a deep breath and throw a glance to my 5-year-old. “I’m having a baby,” I say to the woman. “No, no” the woman says laughing as she pushes further. “Are you havin…
By Madison Young

I’m Registered At Babies “R” Us, & I'm Freaking The Hell Out

Hi. My name is Abi, and I’m registered at Babies “R” Us — and I’m freaking out. This may sound silly, but after being a die-hard Toys “R” Us kid, I was so excited to register at their baby store once my husband and I finally got our big fat positive …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

My Daughter Is Obsessed With Being "Pretty" & I'm Way Past Terrified

Last week, when I picked up my daughter after school, she immediately wanted to know if I liked her hair. "Is it pretty?" she asked. Her hair was pulled up into two ponytails that were intertwined into thick, long braids. A shimmering pink and purple…
By Dina Leygerman

7 Things No One Tells You About Having A Baby In Your 20s, But I Will

I was 24 when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. The pregnancy was a surprise, since I was on birth control (side note: antibiotics and birth control don't mix), but my partner and I decided to continue with the pregnancy and committed to m…
By Candace Ganger

Women Who Miscarry Early Deserve To Grieve — Here's How Hospitals Should Be Helping

When I lost my baby back in 2013, it was because of a very early miscarriage. Because of the little amount of time I spent being pregnant, it was though my child had never really existed, which made the next few years hard — I felt like they had been…
By Risa Kerslake

7 Things I Wish My Partner Had Said To Me In The First Hour After Giving Birth

I don't know if it was the buzz of the surrounding machines, the non-existent cry of our son as the doctors tried to resuscitate him, or the fact that I'd already been through labor and delivery once before, but I knew something was missing after I h…
By Candace Ganger

Moms’ Groups Weren’t For Me, Sorry

I go to my moms’ club everyday of the week, but not usually on weekends. My moms' group is a place I can always count on finding fellow mothers who understand the daily struggles and triumphs of parenthood and of juggling life’s responsibilities. Dep…
By Samantha Taylor

Millennial Women Are Getting Married Later Than Gen X, & The Reasons Why Are Pretty Badass

The battle of the generations seems to come up when it comes to every lifestyle or career choice people make. Women, especially, are an important demographic when it comes to analysts looking at the lifestyle choices we make or the expected milestone…
By Josie Rhodes Cook

I've Had 3 Miscarriages But *Please* Keep Telling Me About Your Pregnancy

I can feel the tension the moment my friend announces her pregnancy. I can hear the forced nonchalant attitude she's willing herself to exude as she fishes for the ultrasound. I know why I was the last to learn that she was expecting; why she keeps l…
By Danielle Campoamor

7 Early Signs You're Going To Need An Epidural, According To Experts

Even if you've constructed an elaborate birth plan, it's impossible to control every aspect of labor and delivery. Complications can occur, proactive measures might be necessary, and your mind is subject to change when those damn contractions really …
By Candace Ganger

I'm Pregnant & I Refuse To Read Any Parenting Books

I didn't read any parenting books when I was expecting my daughter, and I refuse to read any parenting books as I await my second child now. I'm the first to admit that I don't really know what I'm doing when it comes to raising my daughter. A good d…
By Marie Southard Ospina

7 Reasons Why March Babies Are Total Badasses

From the moment you become pregnant, you begin to wonder what your little one will be like. Will they look like you, your partner, or your Great Aunt Edna? Will they be the quiet, thoughtful type or arrive on this planet raring to go? It's fun to ima…
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik

12 Overnight Face Masks To Use To Wake Up Feeling Pampered AF

Spring is right around the corner, and as far as I'm concerned, the sunshine and warm breezes can't come soon enough. But now that we're about to say goodbye to winter, it's a good time to take stock of your facial skincare routine. You know, in the …
By Katie Malczyk

11 Essential Products To Pack In Your Hospital Bag, According To OB-GYNs

The minute you go into labor (or think you're going into labor), chaos ensues. You and your partner are likely to get a little frantic, just like in the movies, so you most definitely want to have a hospital bag packed before the day comes. This prec…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

7 Photos You *Must* Take In The First 6 Months Of Motherhood

In my experience, becoming a mom is like becoming an amateur photographer. There's just something about the need to capture every single coo and sorta-smile that leaves you obsessed with all things photography. I know I couldn't stop taking selfies w…
By Candace Ganger

Here's How Early An Ultrasound Can Actually Determine Your Baby's Sex

From the moment you see those two lines on a pregnancy test, there are a few markers along the way that stand out as especially exciting. Amongst them are hearing your baby's heartbeat and feeling that first, sweet little kick. And if you are finding…
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik

9 Easy Kid Foods To Turn Green, Just In Time For St. Patrick's Day

The best part about having kids is that you get your own personal crew to celebrate the holidays with, in all your color coordinating and matching glory. And with St. Patrick’s Day right around the corner, you are obviously working on turning everyth…
By Mishal Ali Zafar

Here Are Some Conditions That Might Require You To Be On Bed Rest During Pregnancy

When I worked in an office, I worked with quite a few pregnant ladies all at the same time. Something must have been in the water, because while I was there for three years, two of my coworkers got pregnant twice, and another girl was pregnant with h…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

I Didn't Follow The Pregnancy Diet Rules & My Daughter Turned Out Just Fine

My diet is an ever-changing and wholly personal thing, which is precisely why I refused to follow any pregnancy diet rules when I was expecting my daughter. For years, I've essentially practiced intuitive eating, in that I listen to my body and eat w…
By Marie Southard Ospina

5 Foods You & Your Partner Should Eat If You're Trying To Get Pregnant

When you're trying to conceive (TTC) and it's just not happening, it's easy to feel like you're doing something wrong. It can be soul-crushing to keep seeing negatives when all you really want to do is wave a positive pregnancy test in the air. So wh…
By Kate Miller