Preeclampsia, A Deadly Condition for Pregnant Mommies!

This great article refers to a very fatal situation that happens sometimes with pregnant woman. As a licensed massage therapist who is certified in prenatal massage I am trained to notice and test for cautionary signs of preeclampsia. Beth Anne talks about her situation in this interview, you can be on bed rest for weeks at a time waiting for your baby to grow inside the mothers belly rather than delivering early.  As you can see in the article Beth Ann delivered her baby Cailin at 33 weeks weighing in at 2 pounds 13 ounces.  Thanks Beth Ann for shining the light on such an important subject. Your daughter is truly a blessing!


What is preeclampsia?

Preeclampsia is when a pregnant woman develops high blood pressure and protein in the urine after the 20th week (late 2nd or 3rd trimester) of pregnancy.  It is interesting that often times woman that have preeclampsia do not feel sick and many of the signs and symptoms of preeclamsia are the same as a regular healthy pregnancy.  Some of these same indications are swelling in the hands and face, weight gain and nausea and vomiting.

“I never knew much about it before I got preeclampsia. I think there was a little blurb about it in the “what to expect” book the doctor gives you but I probably skipped over it.” Beth Ann Bligh (Relaxation Works client)

Severe preeclampsia symptoms include:

  • Irritability
  • Vision problems or changes which include temporary blindness, sensitivity to light or seeing flashing lights or spots
  • Decreased urine output, not urinating very often
  • Headache that tend not to go away
  • Intense belly pain on the right side, right below the ribs. You can also feel this pain in the right shoulder which can be confused with heartburn or the baby kicking
Let me point something out that I have found in working with prenatal clients, they don’t really know what it is or what preeclampcia is all about.  In a post on relaxation Works facebook page Beth Ann said this “I never really knew much about it before I got it. I think there is a little blurb about it in that ‘What to Expect’ book, I probably skipped over it!”  That is exactly what most people do because the doctors don’t really pay much attention to it unless you are overweight or have previous medical conditions.

One of the tests I preform to detected if preeclampsia maybe present is pressing on the lower leg with my thumb 2 inches above the ankle for 5 seconds.  I am looking for signs of pitting edema.  Pitting edema leaves a dent in the skin after you press the area.  The dent will slowly fill back in after 5-8 seconds or so.  This is different from non pitting edema or just having swollen feet or ankles, which does not leave a dent when you press the area.

Another caution I need to address as a massage therapist is blood clots in the legs.  I check for hot spots on the leg (not counting behind the knee because that tends to be warm anyways) by simply placing my hands on the lower and upper legs.  Both these test take less than 1 minute but are a crucial part of prenatal treatment.

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