Thanks to shows like Downton Abbey and Grey’s Anatomy, serious prenatal complications like preeclampsia are finally getting the attention they deserve.
Preeclampsia, also called toxemia or pregnancy-induced hypertension, is a serious medical condition in about 5-8% of pregnancies that’s characterized by high blood pressure, protein in your urine and swelling. In its more severe state, damage to other organ systems such as your kidneys. Typically it begins after 20 weeks in women with normal blood pressure.
Preeclampsia requires early detection and close monitoring because left untreated, it can be life-threatening to mom and/or baby. No mom wants to knowingly put herself and/or her baby at risk so the key is to take precautions to lower your risk for developing preeclampsia.
If you have a history of kidney disease, high blood pressure or diabetes, you are at increased risk of developing preeclampsia. Therefore, it’s important to speak with a perinatologist before you conceive to identify how to lower your risk by managing your health conditions before pregnancy.
The truth about preeclampsia every woman needs to know but that no one is talking about
No one knows exactly what causes preeclampsia.
Some experts believe it begins due to problems with the development of the placenta. Others believe there’s a genetic component. Still others believe it’s a blood volume issue that kicks off the condition.
One thing most experts agree on is that there’s a neurological component too.
In a research study published in the late 1990s, researchers found that women who have preeclampsia have very high sympathetic nervous system activity.
What this means is that women who develop preeclampsia (characterized by high blood pressure) have higher levels of adrenaline in their blood than women who were pregnant with normal blood pressure, nonpregnant women with high blood pressure and nonpregnant women with normal blood pressure. Adrenaline in your blood narrows your blood vessels and increases pressure and inflammation, both of which are seen in women who have preeclampsia.
Where does adrenaline come from?
If you guessed stress, you’re absolutely right. This stress can be due to physical stress such as pain or emotional stress such as overwhelm and anxiety.
High levels of stress, constrict blood vessels and that can impact the amount of oxygen and nutrients that goes to your baby. (Tweet that!)
But I’m not stressed!
That may be true. And if it is, that’s fantastic that you’ve found a daily stress management regime that works for you to keep your anxiety low! Keep on doing what you’re doing!
However, as someone who’s been supporting women’s wellness for year, I can tell you that for most women it’s usually one of two things that’s actually going on.
You may be missing the signals your body is giving you that your stress levels are too high. Approximately 8 out of 10 Americans fall into this category so you certainly aren’t alone! (Learn to recognize the surprising signs of stress during pregnancy.)
You may one of those people who may not show any outward signs of stress or feel anxiety but has high blood pressure anyway. Cardiologists and hypertension specialists believe the elevated blood pressure is still a stress response. This is because that your body has found a different way to express your stress, making stress management critical even if you don’t “feel” stressed.
What does this all mean for you?
Ok first, take a deep breath. This is a lot of information to take in and information that your doctor may not necessarily be familiar with.
Does this mean that stress causes preeclampsia?
No. But it does mean that stress does play a significant role in the development of preeclampsia.
According to world-renowned obstetrician Dr. Christiane Northrup, it is crucial to you and your baby that you learn the skills necessary to manage your stress and I wholeheartedly agree. This is especially true if you are already diagnosed with preeclampsia.
Remember, your womb is the best place for your baby to be and you can influence tremendously how long you stay pregnant by making healthy choices and managing your stress effectively. (Tweet that!)
Ready to take charge of your health?
Having pregnancy complications (or being worried that you'll develop them again) can leave you feeling helpless...especially when doctors don't know what more to do to prevent complications and advise to "wait and see" and monitor more closely.
The reality is that you can get in charge of your stress and anxiety faster than you think is possible when you have the right tools in place. If you're interested in learning how, check out my free webinar to learn how you can overcome fear and anxiety during a high-risk pregnancy even if you have complications.
When you effectively lower your stress, the changes that happen to your body during pregnancy are breathtaking. I know it's possible for you too.