An Expecting Mother’s Guide to Preeclampsia

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Hey mamas! So, you’re pregnant. Congratulations! You’re in for nine months of excitement, preparation, and of course… lots of advice. This week, I want to touch on a more serious topic – preeclampsia. It has come to my attention that the month of May is Pre-E awareness month! As a newborn photographer in Akron, OH, I have had many conversations with mamas about their delivery experience. However, I wasn’t aware of just how many people receive a Pre-E diagnosis, let alone how many have the uncommon symptoms. I want to help raise awareness and educate others on Pre-E, as well as ensure that you feel comfortable and secure in your little one’s arrival! So, I made this brief guide to preeclampsia for you!

A Guide to Preeclampsia

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What Is Preeclampsia?

Preeclampsia is a pregnancy complication that results in high blood pressure and signs of damage to another organ system, most commonly the liver and kidneys. Preeclampsia usually occurs 20 weeks into pregnancy, and typically develops over a period of days or weeks.

While the exact cause of preeclampsia remains unknown, it is shown to relate to problems with the placenta.

Preeclampsia can range from mild to severe and can lead to serious complications for both the mother and the baby. It can cause premature birth, low birth weight, and placental abruption (when the placenta separates from the uterine wall). Don’t get nervous though. Pre-E has symptoms that are fairly unique to its arrival that you can watch out for!


It wouldn’t be a guide to preeclampsia without mention of the symptoms. The most common symptom of preeclampsia is high blood pressure (as if you don’t already have that as an expecting mom). Other symptoms include:

  • Swelling, especially in the face and hands
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain, often on the right side
  • Headaches
  • Changes in vision, including blurred vision, light sensitivity, and seeing spots or lines
  • Shortness of breath

Some of the less common symptoms of preeclampsia include:

  • Severe fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Discomfort in the upper right abdominal area
  • Intestinal cramping
  • Chest pain

If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to contact a Canton pediatrician or OBGYN as soon as possible.

Diagnosis/Treatment in this Guide to Preeclampsia

If you have any of the symptoms listed above, your healthcare provider will likely order a blood pressure check and urine test. If your blood pressure is 140/90 or higher, or if you have protein in your urine, you may receive a preeclampsia diagnosis.

There is no cure for preeclampsia, and the only way to treat it is to deliver the baby. In some cases, this may mean inducing labor or delivering the baby early via C-section.

If you do have preeclampsia, it is important that your healthcare provider, such as Rainbow Kids in Cleveland, OH, waches you closely. This may include more frequent prenatal visits, blood pressure checks, and urine tests. You may also receive medication to lower your blood pressure. All of which are going to help you get and remain healthy so you can deliver a healthy and strong little one!

Let’s Talk About Some Stories

Being an Akron, OH newborn photographer allows me to get to know so many mamas, babies, and families. I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with many women about their journey through their Pre-E diagnosis. With their permission, I’d like to briefly share some of their statements and stories with you in this guide to preeclampsia.

Tiffany Duncan’s Story

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I have protein in my urine and increasingly high blood pressure in my 3rd trimester. I had weekly visits, weekly blood draws, and extra trips for blood pressure monitoring. At my 37 week appointment they told me they wanted to induce me, but I wanted until 38 weeks to be induced. After ending in c-section and spending two days in the hospital I went home

After 3 days at home I woke up one morning to blurred vision, swollen feet, and higher blood pressure than I’d ever had. I ended up back in the hospital for 2 days getting a magnesium drip and so emotional to be separated from my rainbow.”

Nicole Chapman’s Story

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“Pre-e didn’t develop for me until the last month and a half. I was experiencing headaches, vision problems, and shoulder pian. I was supposed to be induced at 38 weeks, but instead was induced at 37. My liver enzymes were crazy for a little while after delivery as well!”

Ashley Clark’s Story

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”I went in for my 24 week appointment kind of nervous since I have previous preemies but never from pre-eclampsia so it was never on my mind. The medical assistant took my blood pressure, and it was 140/90. She took it again and it was the same. She went and got my OB and the OB took it and got the same. I started crying knowing this automatically makes me higher risk for ANOTHER preemie. We were already on progesterone shots to prevent a preemie. She said let’s send you for blood work but I am hoping it’s just gestational hypertension. So I went and had blood and urine done at a lab place. Was told if anything bad came of the on call OB would call me with directions.

I didn’t get a call so I assumed all was good. The next day I checked my online portal and saw a message from the previous night. The on call OB had messaged me my protein in my urine was slightly elevated but thought it was maybe contaminated. That appointment was a Wednesday. I was told to take my blood pressure a couple times a day over the next few days and to come back the next week to check it again. The day after that appointment was thanksgiving. Had an amazing and relaxing time with all my extended family. Friday my blood pressure was about the same.  

Ashley Clark’s Story – Part 2

Saturday it was higher and high enough to go to OB triage. So I went in and was monitored for a few hours and my blood pressure came down on its own. I was discharged. Sunday I took it again and it was high again. Called my OB and was told to take it every hour x3 and she would call me back in a few hours for what they were. Every time they were even higher. When she called I was already crying knowing I was about to get admitted. And of course she said meet her at aultman hospital to get steroids and magnesium.

When I got the the hospital my blood pressure was 170/110. This automatically cage me a diagnosis of severe pre eclampsia with features. I was given labetolol and steroids and magnesium. I was water restricted and not allowed out of bed. They told me to prepare mentally to be delivering in the next few days. As a nicu nurse this scared me so much. I was only 24 weeks and 4 days a long. We made it to 25 weeks and everyday I asked what are chances are of going longer. They kept saying usually most people deliver within 2 weeks. That only would get me to 26 weeks. Still not great but better than 24. MFM was on my case I was getting labs weekly bpps biweekly and nst 3 times a day.

Ashley Clark’s Story – Part 3

Every week everyone was shocked I was still pregnant. Then at 30 weeks and 2 days that evening I had a headache. I felt blah. Everyone was hoping it was only cause I had been there for 6 weeks and just over it. I took Tylenol but it didn’t help. Friday evening I took a stronger medication. I kept saying maybe if I got motivated for the day and took a shower. They said ok but can you take another dose of the stronger medicine for the headache. I agreed. Took the meds and got a shower. This was Saturday now. After my shower I felt better. I said see I was just feeling blah. Saturdays was my day for my husband and kids to visit. But we held them off since I didn’t feel well.

About 30 minutes after my shower the headache came back with a vengeance. My OB and MFM came to talk to me and said it was time we got baby out. They were inducing me. My sister works labor and delivery there so I called all the important people crying knowing he was still to early at only 30.4 weeks. Eventually, my mom sister and husband all came up to be with me. My induction would begin with pitocin and a foley bulb. I am known for fast deliveries. After the foley bulb came out they broke my water. I was going to go natural with no pain meds. At about 7-8 cm I couldn’t do it anymore and asked for the epidural. I was sat in the side of the bed and the lidocaine was given first In my back. The baby’s heart rate dropped to 80s for too long and I felt a lot of pressure.

Ashley Clark’s Story – Part 4

They had to lay me back down and I literally felt baby coming. Doctor came in and checked me and said she is ready to push. At that point we were waiting for nicu to get setup and telling me to wait to push so they were ready. Never did get the epidural. About 2 pushes and he was out. He was crying a little bit and was laid on my for 60 seconds of delayed cord clamping. Nicu took him over to the warmer. Then over to nicu. I was still on magnesium for the next 24 hours. I was able to go see and hold my tiny 3#13 oz baby for a little bit that day. He would spend 37 days in nicu and receive a line in his belly button and an intubation tube to get surfactant for his lungs along with cpap for about a week. Now he is great!”

What strength these women show in facing something so nervewracking and intimidating! Not knowing if your little one is okay is any mamas biggest fear, my included. I couldn’t imagine having to go through what they did, but I am so proud to know them and hear that all of their littles are happy and healthy!

Wrapping Up the Guide to Preeclampsia

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I hope you found my little guide to preeclampsia helpful! Pregnancy is a beautiful time, but it can also be a time of stress and anxiety. Unfortunately, many of the symptoms that are signs of preeclampsia are also fairly common general pregnancy symptoms. It is important to remember that preeclampsia can be a serious condition, but with proper monitoring and care from a Canton pediatrician or OBGYN, both you and your baby will be just fine!

I cannot wait to hear your little munchkin’s story next! Make sure to reach out to me to capture this short-lived but oh so adorable time in their life!

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