What symptom gave it away?

[deleted account] ( 45 moms have responded )

Was there any one symptom that told you something was wrong? Or was it a multitude?

My biggest signal I think was how dizzy I was getting. My eyesight was progressivly getting splotchier and it was getting really hard to breath. My BP wasn't THAT high to the doctors, but my normal range was around 90/60 and my pregnancy BP was 140/95 (just to start off with!) I knew something was up and kept telling the doctors but they didn't do or say a thing. Thats my story glory!

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Kimberley - posted on 11/27/2012

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Hi

Im 32 weeks pregnant with baby number 3 and im having dizness and constent headace i feel tired all the time im having nasusia, i get dizzy just sitting on the couch.. I went to the doctors 4 weeks ago and he said everything is fine, i then end up in the delievery suit cause i was vomitting had a temp and headace and blurry vision they took blood and urine blood test was fine urine had a lil bit of protine in it they gave me antibotic and told me to come back on tuesday last week to check bp was in their for 3 hrs and they still couldnt find anything wrong with me.. I also get this sharp pains in my left arm like someone is pinching me from inside my skin... Can anyone tell me what to do.. I had pre eclampsia with baby number 1 and was induced and had a emergency c section cause he was destressed baby number 2 i had an elective c section. Im sick of going up to the hospital for them to tell me there is nothing wrong

[deleted account]

Mine began with a pain in my chest (what they kept diagnosing as heart burn) that would gradually make its way to my back right between my shoulder blades. Sometimes I could not tell if my chest hurt or my back or both! The only way to take the edge off of the pain was to soak in a hot tub or use a heating pad. Then the pain would move to my stomach right below my rib cage on my right side (epigastric pain). The worst pain ever...enough to cause vomiting and labor-like symptoms. These episodes (weird..even in the exact order of symptoms every time) would occur about once every 4-5 days and last about 24 hours. Oh yeah...and the swelling!



Mine began at about 30 weeks and was misdiagnosed as "heartburn"...I was so frustrated they would not trust my instincts that something was wrong. Finally, while my husband was on a temporary duty assignment with the Air Force, I had the worst episode of them all at 36 weeks and I had just left the doc's office...my vision was getting blurry and my right side of my face was kind of twitching...that was enough! I called the Doc's office and had them page the "high risk" doctor on call to meet me in the ER. There was no "asking" involved at this point. I did not ask...I demanded! Called my husband's commander to get him home fast...thank goodness for a fighter jet's speed! Sorry if he "boomed" anyone that day!



When I was admitted I was on the verge of a stroke and seizures. Thankfully I had a great Doctor (Dr. Betcher, Columbus, MS) who ran one simple test, immediately began a plethora of meds/ivs, induced me (yep...no epidural and labor for 13 hours), and then finally I had to have an emergency c-section because I was "fading" pretty fast and not getting better. I almost had to have a blood transfusion too. He saved my life and Baby Kellen's too that day, and I had never even met him...I cannot thank him enough for saving my life and Kellen's that day.



Kellen was born 4 weeks early weighing 4.5 lbs and so tiny! The HELLPS had cause intrauterine growth restriction because my liver was so large and something else with my placenta (maybe detachment?)... and Kellen was not getting enough food. But now at almost 10 months, he is 29 inches and 21lbs!



This is my story,...hope it helps someone else! Just think what one simple blood test could have prevented?

NuMamma26 - posted on 09/03/2012

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i booked a midwife appt today because since last thursday had been feeling unwell, blurry vision, headaches, tingly hands and feet, nausea, dizziness and top half of my tummy was sore. I let my midwife know of these things and she couldnt figure out what was wrng with me, she mentioned pre eclampsia but was sure my symptoms had nothing to do with my pregnancy so she rang the obstetrician for advice on what to do and was informed to send me to my g.p straight away so she did. I turned up to my doctr bwt 10mins later just for him to tell me he ddint know the cause of my symptoms and asked if i had been taking anything for the headaches i replied " yes, paracetamol, then tells me to take even more than i usually would take in a day!!! wasted my money and time seeing them both and was sent on my way without actually knowing what i have or if mine or my baby's life in in danger!!! Something is wrong but the only ppl hu cn find out if anything is is tellin me theres nothing wrong!! my symptoms are gettin worse and im frustrated at this. has anyone else had this happen to them??

Leah - posted on 09/29/2010

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I had a great pregnancy. Everytime I went for my checkups, my doctor would comment on how healthy I was from blood pressure to weight. I was 39 1/2 weeks and began to have contractions every 5 minutes. That is when the horror story began. When I arrived at the hospital, the doctors checked the baby's heart rate and claimed it was dropping. At that point, I was given an emergency c-section. I was given an anesthesia and did not regain full consciousness until two days later in the ICU. I was told I developed preeclampsia & HELLP during the delivery and lost an enormous amount of blood. The doctor were not expecting me to make it. I remained in the ICU for one week . All this time I have not seen or held my new baby girl. Only viewed pictures that my husband took of her. My legs were so huge I could not move them. And the doctors were using me as an object for the doctors in training to study.

The operating doctors wanted to reopen my c-section for fear of an infection they felt would develop with my wound open. Luckily, my obgyn was contacted and she asked them not to reopen my wound. At that point I was able to move to the maternity ward under close watch and finally hold my new baby (1 1/2 week after birth). Five days later, I was able to go home with my husband and baby, but I had to wear a device called a womb vac to help close my wound from the c-section. My feet were incredibly swollen I had difficulty walking and had to wear house slippers home.

During this time my mom had to care for my baby because I could not even lift her. And my body went through so much trauma I could not produce any milk to breastfeed. A visiting nurse had to visit my home to check the womb every three days for a month. After the month they trained my husband on how to clean the womb for me and check for infection. It's 9 months now since my wound has closed outside. All this to say I had no symptoms to warn me.

Charlotte - posted on 05/06/2009

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Amy, my situation was a lot like yours! It started around 30 weeks, I guess with that same nasty chest pain. It would start in front, in the middle of my chest and as time went on, it would spread around the sides and to my back between my shoulder blades. It got so bad it hurt to breathe and I couldn't pinpoint where the pain was coming from. It was like my whole ribcage ached. And it didn't matter if I was sitting, standing or lying down.

I told a doctor at my OBGYN group about it when it started happening, and she thought it was musculo-skeletal, from working at a computer all day. She told me to take Tylenol and if it ever got to the point that Tylenol didn't help, to call them. Well, it helped. For about 3 weeks on and off. I mentioned it a couple other times and they all said the same thing. My BP was fine, no swelling, no protein in urine... Then one weekend, it started on a Friday, lasted Sat, Sun, Mon and Tues. The Tylenol did nothing. That's when I called the doctor and they told me to go to the hospital. They all thought it was gall bladder until the blood tests came back. I had no other symptoms, except high BP on that day. (I was at the doc the day before and BP was normal.)

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Amy - posted on 09/16/2012

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For me, it snuck up so silently. There were random symptoms from about 25 weeks, but nothing that ever 'jumped' out at Midwife. Doctor or me. It wasn't till the start of my 35th week when I began vomiting, pain under right breast, dizzy, couldn't get out of bed, and headaches. It took 3 visits to the hospital to get checked before finally the penny dropped, and from that third appointment, it was only 6 hours before my son was delivered by emergency c section. It's so scary thinking about it now, especially when you run through all the 'what if's' - happy to be here, healthy and loving my son.

Julie - posted on 09/09/2012

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Hi NuMamma,



What tests did they do on you exactly? Are there other hospitals in your area? Some of your symptoms don't match just low iron. I'm thinking you should be getting a second opinion at another hospital, especially if they didn't take a BP reading or do a protein test... how did they miss the iron deficiency the first time?



As for their behaviour, that sounds unacceptable. A written complaint might be on the cards... let us know how you go!

NuMamma26 - posted on 09/07/2012

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That's the thing I did go to the hospital n they cudnt find anything wrong! But I went bk again onli to find out that my symptoms were bkoz I was low on iron. And to make it even worse my midwife and hospital staff were rude to me n my partner that night! Talking amongst each other about me. I will never go bk there ever!

Julie - posted on 09/04/2012

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NuMama, get your ass to a hospital NOW and have them test your protein levels. Did they even bother taking a blood pressure reading?!



Do NOT let them fob you off, you can refuse to leave until they perform these tests.

Hope - posted on 03/29/2011

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The symptoms that warned me about preeclampsia were rapid face and hand-swelling. Ironically, my midwife told my husband to go to the ER, but the drs sent me back home hrs after tests saying it was just high hypertention, because no protein was in my urine yet. At the time I was seeing a midwife and my obgyns. I was sent home from the hospital with 24hr toximia test, and a day later, went to obgyns for test results. I was sent to the hospital to be induced for labor the same day, because I was diagnosed with severe preeclampsia. I think pregnant ladies need to know what signs and symptoms to watch for. I also think that too many ladies are not getting information on preeclampsia from their drs until they are diagnosed with it.

Brittany - posted on 09/27/2010

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i didnt know i had preeclampsia until a week before my due date, all the doctors i seen kept telling me that i didnt have it even though my blood pressure was always high it usually was 150/90 and i always had protein in my urine. i went to my appt on june 27th and another doctor decided to keep me and induce labor because he said i had preeclampsia, my legs, hands, and face were very swollen. I was in labor for 42 hours with my daughter, my blood pressure got up to 160/100 in labor and on june 30th i had her the drs said i almost died during labor.

Jessica - posted on 09/12/2010

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I was diagnosed with Preeclampsyia at 34 weeks and had to be induced within a couple days of finding out... My blood pressure was sky high and i was seeing spots and i gained a ton of weight within a short period of time. And my protein levels tripled over night to a dangerous amount.Thank god she was born 5lbs 10zs and has had no health issues..:)

Tena - posted on 09/10/2010

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I just don't agree with pregnancy. I was always high risk due to an incompetent cervix. With my first I was borderline pre-e and had my son 2 days before my due date. My bp was fine but I had horrible swelling. ( edema is very problematic for me normally). With my 2nd I was a gestational diabetic. Mild swelling again. My Thursday appt everything was fine but my Monday appt I was spilling proteins in the 4000s and was admitted. They did an ultrasound and I lost it. My son was 4lb and 1 oz - he had stopped growing (he was 3lb 9oz for my 27 week ultrasound. I was induced immediately and things got ugly. My bp rose sharply then bottomed out. I don't even remember him being born I was so out of it. I remember them starting my emergency c-section and came to again after he was already in NICU. With my last and final (got my girl) everything was fine. bp normal, no swelling, no proteins until 32 weeks. I had a trace of proteins and my bp started to rise so they had me come in the next day for some test. I started swelling sometime during the day at work. The doctor looked at me and told me we were having a baby. I was induced but failed to progress due to the incompetent cervix and cerclages (scar tissue does not stretch well) so I had my daughter via c-section. It took a couple of months for my bp to return to normal with medication.

Not your normal story but I am different. I was 22 when I had my oldest, 34 with my middle and 39 with my last.

Rachel - posted on 09/10/2010

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Wow I had extremely bad chest pain too.. But my doctor never picked it up either.. i didn't have swollen feet or blurred vision,, My biggest problems that let me know something was wrong was a constant headache that NEVER went away and dehydrated.. My BP wasn't real high or nothing like that.. My doctor had me pee in a jug for 24 hours. (all my pee for awhole day) And then I took it back to the hospital and it tested for Preeclampsia thats how I found out.. But I was grateful for my daughter to be full term when they started my IV to control my blood pressure and broke my water.. But I never knew that the chest pain was another sign. I am pregnant with my second child so I will keep that in mind.. Thank you Abi..

Brandy - posted on 06/01/2010

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when i was pregnant i was getting ultrasounds and test run once a month because i was considered high risk, i thought i was doing everything right eating healthy exercising etc... im diabetic so i had to check my urine everyday and kept a good watch on my blood pressure. the last dr visit i had everything was normal, and my bp was good, it usually ran a little low before pregnancy. i was six months and the only problem i started to have is i felt alot of pressure like the baby was going to fall out of me the dr told me to reduce the amount i was standing and i should be fine, and then that day after my appt. i remember i was feeling really drained and weird, everybody at work kept asking what was wrong and i actually said i dont know it feels like something inside is wrong like my sugar or my blood pressure, i chalked it up to pregnancy symptoms and that night i woke up feeling alot of cramping like i had to go to the bathroom or throw up and i felt dizzy once i vomited i couldnt stop and my breathing felt weird like it was coming in waves where one minute i was fine and the next i was trying to catch my breath or something so i went to the hospital and before i knew it i was hooked up to the mag and in an ambulence being transfered to another hospital. my bp had just sky rocketed suddenly

Julia - posted on 05/23/2010

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I wasn't diagnosed 'til 39wk4days, but I believe I started having symptoms 3 weeks before that. Just at week 39 I had pressure in my chest and it was hard to breath. I also had nausea and vomiting. My blood pressure wasn't considered that high, only 135/87. My sonogram I had to measure my baby showed her arm and leg measurements weren't progressing, so I was scheduled to induce and had blood work done. The doctor said it was good we scheduled to induce that next day... she would have called me in the next day to induce, because my blood work showed signs of hellp

Louise - posted on 04/03/2010

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i started having problems about 6 months into my pregnancy i started getting very bad chest pains (thinking it was heartburn) and pain under my ribs and back (thinking they were pregnancy aches and pains) started feeling dizzy and tired all the time, my blood pressure started to go high but had no protein in my urine which made the nurses think it wasn't too serious but at 34 weeks i started getting blurry vision (seeing spots) and headaches went to hospital had a blood test it was then they realised i had elevated liver enzymes worse than an alcoholics liver was even asked if i'd taken an overdose of painkillers as it was that bad and had my daughter by emer c-section the next day. i had symptoms of pre-eclampsia, eclampsia, hellp syndrome and fatty liver of pregnancy. apparently i was having problems since 28 weeks as when they did the full blood count test it came up then there was a problem but i only got the results of this the day after she was born!!!!! luckily everything started going back to normal. But since her birth i have found out i have a low grade kidney problem and had to have my gallbladder removed lucky me!!!!!!!!!!

Jessica - posted on 03/31/2010

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I didnt have any symptoms except high blood pressure. I had high blood pressure through out my pregnancy but it wasn't until i was 38 weeks that it got really high. I was in the hospital then but was released the next day. Then at 39 weeks i went to the hospital again, thats when they decided to induce me.

Janine - posted on 03/25/2010

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The first signs were spots in my vision and dizziness, I didn't think anything of it thought it was something to do with my eye sight because I wear glasses. My mum noticed that my face looked a bit swollen more than usual, we didn't think anything of it. Lastly I woke up one night extremely sick and throwing up at 35 weeks, thought it something I ate. Then at 36 weeks had a check up with the DR and my BP was really high and protein in the urine.

Mary Lynn - posted on 03/23/2010

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I guess around 20 weeks my BP started creeping up. By 30 weeks it was high enough to do a protein test which came back negative. I was swollen everywhere... my feet and ankles were terrible. I was so glad when I was able to see my ankles again! I also gained a lot of weight during the pregnancy.

We were just lucky that my husband told me to check my bp at home one afternoon and it was 160/95, so I called the doc and she sends me to Labor and delivery. Our son was born via c-section just a couple hours later.

Monica - posted on 02/18/2010

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well with me when i had my last sonogram they said the baby was smaller than what she should be. a week after that, protein started showing up in my urine. My dr was great! He had me do two 24hr urine tests. My hands really swelled up along with my feet. I'd wake up in the morning and it would be hard for me to close my hands. Dr put me on bed rest and had me come in almost everyday for a week. he decided to induce me at 37wks 5days. My BP didn't go high until the morning I entered the hospital. and let me just say that magnesium had me out of it for days!

Dominique - posted on 02/15/2010

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I developed an extreme pain just below my ribs on the right hand side on boxing day. my blood pressure had been fine, as were my urine tests. i thought it was over indulgence at christmas / tristan "sitting" funny and thought little of it as he was still "happily" moving about.
i took myself off to bed and took painkillers until having a midwife check where i asked about it. SHE told me to go to the GP as it was "a common gall bladder complaint". my doctor sent me off to the hospital where i was for 3 days. i THEN noticed tristan wasnt moving a lot, and then didn't move for a period of 12 hours, that's what lead to a scan and blood tests being carried out... those picked up that i was in renal failure caused by HELLP.

the stupid thing is, looking back... i had headaches [i've always suffered migraines]... i had blotchy vision... my hands HAD swollen, but tend to swell when i'm a little too warm... my "bump" never really arrived, i just put on a tiny bit of weight but i never looked even a LITTLE bit pregnant... i wasn't able to eat anything due to feeling nauseous for 2 weeks or so... i just didn't think anything of any of these.. and the ONLY reason i ended up having it checked out was because after seeing my midwife i was in agony and couldnt sleep through the night... so i continued taking paracetamol every four hours... and realised that i'd taken too many in 24 hours. if i hadn't done that i'd never have had it checked out.

Monika - posted on 11/01/2009

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I had very high blood pressure, blurred vision (which I thought was just a dirty contact lens hehe) and swelling/pitting. Once they sent me to triage for further tests, we found out I spilling protein like crazy. DD was born only 2 1/2 days later.

Kylie - posted on 10/26/2009

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My blood pressure was really high right throughout my pregnancy, typically around 160/90. The doctors kept telling me that was normal for me, as I am a larger lady. I kept saying it wasn't right. In the end my doctor gave me a list of symptoms for PEC and told me to be aware.



All I had was a frontal lobe headache. I got to the hospital, and yep, pre eclampsia at 27 weeks. My son was born by c section the following day. He's a cheeky, chatty 6 month old now!

Chelle - posted on 09/27/2009

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Mine progressed slowly from the time I was about 21 weeks til I had my son at almost 34 weeks. It started out as my bp being high occasionally when I went into the doctor's office. I was also in at least once a week too because I was so severely sick (threw up non-stop til the day my son was born). Then I had horrible migraines and was seeing spots. I couldn't stand anymore because I was so dizzy. I had the horrible chest pain too (also told was heartburn and ate tums like candy). My BP when my pregnancy started was 117/73, which is my normal even today. And when it became high it was averaging 140/95-150/98. Then it wouldn't go below 140/96 at about 29 weeks. I just kept getting sicker and bigger! I was so swollen my brother would make smiley faces in my feet and they would stay for a half hour or longer imprinted in my feet. So, the symptoms kept progressing and at 33 weeks I came in with bp at about 160/100 and my son had also began moving MUCH less than normal and I was admitted and my bp stabilized down to 130/85 and I was released to go home 3 days later (even though my urine tests came back postive for pre-e and what not). I went home on a friday afternoon, stayed home staurday, and didn't sleep at all saturday night from the pain in my side (coming from my liver).



When my husband got up on Sunday he took my BP and I was 220/170. But it took a couple more hours of convinving from family to take my to the hospital. I was so sick of going in and them sending me home even though I knew something hadn't been right for months. When we went into the hospital they asked what for and all and asked if my doctor told me to come in and I told them why I was there and no, my doctor didn't tell me but I wasn't' stupid. She didn't believe my pressure was that bad. HA! She took it and about fell over! They ran a quick urine test and the doc came in and said they had to deliver me with in the hour or my son and possibly I was going to die. So TADA, there came my son!



I now see a high-risk and specialist OB. We have a plan all ready to go the moment I get pregnant to watch me carefully. I also have to conceive using fertility drugs so I will be monitored even more closely while taking these medications. I'm confidant this time will be better but still scared to death!

Rachel - posted on 09/27/2009

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I had the severe epi-gastric (liver) pain for 3 weeks misdiagnosed. My daughter was born at 29wks and weighed 2pound 6oz. That was 12 yrs ago!! I'll never forget that pain though, it was so intense and SO mis-diagnosed. My2nd pregnancy ended in miscarriage with elevated liver enzymes and low platelets, my 3rd pregnancy was very closely monitored and ended in pre eclampsia at 35wks, my 4th pregnancy (I know, the things we do!!) ended at 38wks with a scheduled c-section, just in the nic of time as my uterus was breaking up and close to rupture and I began seizing with pre eclampsia once again. All in all, it was a very tough time for my husband and I but we now have 3 healthy 'ferals'...

Sammy-Jo - posted on 08/25/2009

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I had horrific pain in my Kidneys/liver at 25 weeks, my gp diagnosed me with a kidney infection and sent me home with antibiotics without taking my blood pressure :S luckily on a routine scan the following day the hospital diagnosed me and had Isabella the day after! I also had blurry vision but the back pain was the most intense. The only way I could get it to dissapear for 5 minutes was a very warm bath.

Amy - posted on 08/21/2009

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Elaine- I had almost all of the symptoms that you listed.BP-175/112-severe Edema-proteinuria (upon arrival at the hospital my protein level was over 900-at 300 they diagnose you with pre eclampsia)-sudden weight gain ( i gained 7 pounds in 2 days at the hospital)-severe nausea and vomiting (bile)-changes in vision (about 3 weeks before diganosis)-Right shoulder pain (worst pain in my life) and hyperreflexia ( i was a 3-4).








Quoting Elaine:

Signs and Symptoms

None
Hypertension
Swelling or Edema
Proteinuria
Sudden Weight Gain
Headache
Nausea or Vomiting
Changes in Vision
Racing pulse, mental confusion, heightened anxiety, trouble catching your breath
Stomach or Right Shoulder Pain
Lower back pain
Hyperreflexia
None

High blood pressure is a silent killer. Oftentimes, women diagnosed with preeclampsia do not feel sick. Many signs and symptoms of preeclampsia mirror other "normal" effects of pregnancy on your body. Women diagnosed with preeclampsia may feel frustrated when prescribed bedrest because they feel fine. If you feel fine, it may be hard for you or your partner to appreciate that preeclampsia is a serious condition.

What you can do...

Proper prenatal care is essential. Tests taken at these check-ups: weighing in, checking your blood pressure, dipping your urine are all done to screen for preeclampsia. Particularly after 20 weeks--do not miss your prenatal appointments. As with any pregnancy, a good prenatal diet full of vitamins, antioxidants, minerals and the basic food groups is important; cutting back on processed foods, refined sugars, and cutting out caffeine, alcohol and any medication not prescribed by a physician is essential. It is also advisable to speak with your health care professional before taking any supplement, herbal or otherwise.

Hypertension (High blood pressure)

High blood pressure is defined as blood pressure of 140/90 or greater as measured on two separate occasions within six hours. However, a woman who normally has a low baseline blood pressure, such as 90/60, could be considered hypertensive at a blood pressure of less than that - especially if she has other symptoms. A rise in the diastolic (lower number) of 15 degrees or more, or a rise in the systolic (upper number) of 30 degrees or more is cause for concern.

In 1990 the National Institutes of Health, National High Blood Pressure Education Program: Working Group Report on High Blood Pressure in Pregnancy issued the following research guidelines:

In the past it has been recommended that an increase of 30 mm Hg systolic or 15 mm Hg diastolic blood pressure be used as a diagnostic criterion, even when absolute values are below 140/90 mm Hg. This definition has not been included in our criteria because the only available evidence shows that women in this group are not likely to suffer increased adverse outcomes. Nonetheless, it is the collective clinical opinion of this panel that women who have a rise of 30 mm Hg systolic or 15 mm Hg diastolic blood pressure warrant close observation, especially if proteinuria and hyperuricemia (uric acid [UA] greater than or equal to 6 mg/dL) are also present.

It should also be noted that 4 members of the Preeclampsia Foundation Medical Board and our Executive Director participated in this working group. There was significant debate over removing baseline BP as diagnostic which is why the final sentence was included. The Preeclampsia Foundation continues to encourage its women, particularly those with low baseline BPs, to know their baseline and to be aware of significant changes and to make any concerns about those changes known to their health care provider.

What you can do...

Know your baseline blood pressure (your blood pressure prior to pregnancy), learn what it means, and ask, "What are my numbers" at each visit. If you are told "It's fine," repeat, "What are my numbers?" If you have had preeclampsia before or if you have chronic high blood pressure, consult a specialist, a high risk OB, or a perinatologist, about your pregnancy. You can find a perinatologist near you who specializes in hypertensive diseases of pregnancy by going to the North American Society for the Study of Hypertension in Pregnancy (www.nasshp.com). Women who have had preeclampsia in a previous pregnancy should request a full screening by a perinatologist to rule out any underlying disease or problems, such as chronic hypertension, autoimmune disorders, thrombophilias, renal disease, etc. Women with a previous history of preeclampsia should have subsequent pregnancies supervised by an obstetrician or a perinatologist. The single large risk factor for getting preeclampsia is a history of having had it before.

If you are inactive or have a higher-than-average body mass index (BMI), make sure to exercise moderately and get yourself in the best shape you can. (You can calculate your BMI). Women with a BMI of 30 or higher are at an increased risk of preeclampsia and should make efforts to reduce this risk by following the advice of their doctor.
Finally, you can buy your own blood pressure monitor at most pharmacies. Some pharmacies have a monitor available for your use. Keep a log of your blood pressure, taken at the same time each day, if possible, and in the same position. Share it with your care provider. If you own your own monitor, you can take it with you to your appointment and have it calibrated to match those in the office. You might also ask your doctor when they last had their monitor calibrated.

It should be noted that home monitors are not always as accurate as those in one's clinic or hospital. Home readings should not replace prenatal visits, nor should a "normal" reading mean ignoring symptoms that may be markers of preeclampsia. Home readings should only be used to help the mother be more proactive in her care.

If you are diagnosed with preeclampsia, many physicians will recommend bedrest, and in late pregnancy, lying on your left side. While health care providers don't always agree that lying on your left side will help, there is no evidence of harm. The thinking is that lying flat on your back might cause the pregnant uterus (and the weight of the baby) to restrict the vein that supplies the heart.

Swelling or Edema (particularly of the hands or face)

A certain amount of swelling during pregnancy is normal. Edema is the accumulation of excess fluid. It is particularly concerning when it accumulates in the face (eyes) or hands. It is normal to have trouble wearing rings throughout pregnancy.

What you can do...

Find a picture of yourself just before pregnancy. Share it with your provider if you feel your face is getting excessively puffy. If the swelling in your extremities becomes severe, you may notice pitting edema (when you press your thumb into your skin, an indentation remains for a few seconds) or discoloration of your legs. If this happens, notify your provider, put your feet up every day (but avoid sitting for extended periods) and drink water to keep hydrated.

Proteinuria (Protein in your urine)

Proteinuria is the result of proteins, normally confined to the blood, spilling into your urine because the small blood vessels in the kidneys become damaged. A simple dipstick test of your urine at each prenatal check-up can screen for proteinuria.

What you can do...

At each prenatal visit ask for the results of the urine test. Usually the nurse dips a reagent strip into your urine sample and then waits a minute for the results. The strips have the markings for "trace", 1+, 2+, etc. A reading of trace protein is relatively common and is usually not a cause for concern. If the strip shows a reading of 1+ or greater, it may signify the onset of preeclampsia, even if your blood pressure is less than 140/90. If you have a reading of 2+, call your health care provider immediately. If you are concerned, or have had preeclampsia before, you can buy reagent strips at some pharmacies or online. They are not cheap and insurance might not cover them.

Sometimes health care providers will have the mother take a 24-hour urine collection for a formal lab assessment. This is not a particularly pleasant task, but if you have been asked to do this, follow the directions of your health care provider carefully, and make every effort to be accurate.

Dark yellow urine is usually the result of inadequate fluid intake and dehydration. However, urine that is quite dark, reddish or the color of cola may indicate a problem. If you have any of these symptoms, inform your care provider.

Sudden Weight Gain

A gain of more than 2 pounds in a week or 6 pounds in a month could be cause for concern.

What you can do...

In general, eat normally and make every effort to include fresh raw fruit and vegetables, your prenatal vitamin, and a folic acid supplement in your diet. Do not diet or try to lose weight. It is important that you eat a healthy, balanced diet. Avoid excessive salt. And as always, avoid alcohol, caffeine, smoking and recreational drugs. Consult with your provider regarding non-prescription drugs and any herbal medications you might take. The Preeclampsia Foundation recognizes the importance of a good diet but does not endorse any particular diet nor juice product. Given that preeclampsia is a complex disease, women will develop it for different reasons. We encourage all women to share with their doctors any diets or product they are trying. For some women--a good diet may make a significant difference, however we urge caution when trying diets, particularly those that encourage large amounts of protein. For women with underlying kidney disease--excessive protein can be unsafe. Similarly, while some women might benefit from low-dose aspirin--studies show that it has been linked with increased placental abruption and miscarriage and so should not be taken routinely by pregnant women unless they have been advised to do so by their physician.

Be sure to drink plenty of water and get regular moderate exercise. At your prenatal visits do not attempt to disguise any weight gain by skipping breakfast, using diet pills or fasting for the day. An accurate weight is vital for a proper diagnosis.

Headaches

Dull, throbbing headaches, often described as migraine-like that just won't go away.

What you can do...

Call your care provider. If you have tried taking over-the-counter medication without relief, or if the headache is very painful or you have light sensitivity, call immediately and ask to see the doctor that day.

Nausea or Vomiting

Nausea or vomiting is particularly significant when the onset is sudden and in the second or third trimesters.

What you can do...

Call your care provider. Nausea or vomiting can be confused with the flu, so be sure to get your blood pressure checked and ask to have your urine checked for proteinuria. Insist on both.

Changes in Vision

Vision changes include temporary loss of vision, sensations of flashing lights, auras, light sensitivity, and blurry vision or spots. For some women who are farsighted, vision may actually improve.

What you can do...

If you have any of these symptoms, you may be developing preeclampsia. Symptoms such as these may be associated with irritation of the central nervous system and should be taken seriously. They may be indicative of cerebral edema (swelling of the brain). It is very important that you consult with your provider as soon as possible. If he or she is not available, you should go directly to the hospital. We regard these symptoms as potentially very serious and they should not be left until the morning, tomorrow and particularly not until the end of the weekend. With preeclampsia, it is better to have the health professionals tell you it was nothing, than to take a chance that might risk your or the baby's life. No doctor ever died from seeing a woman too many times.

Racing pulse, mental confusion, heightened sense of anxiety, trouble catching your breath

If these symptoms are new to you, they could indicate an elevated blood pressure.

What you can do...

Contact your health care provider if these symptoms are new. If they are not, be sure to mention them at your next visit.

Stomach and/or Right Shoulder Pain

This type of stomach pain, called epigastric pain by the medical profession, is usually under the right-side ribs. It can be confused with heartburn, gallbladder problems, flu, indigestion or pain from the baby kicking. Shoulder pain is often called referral pain because it radiates from the liver under the right ribs. Lower back pain is different from muscle strain common to pregnancy. It is usually more acute and specific. All may be a sign of HELLP Syndrome or a related problem in the liver. Shoulder pain can feel like someone is deeply pinching you along the bra strap, or it can be painful to lie on your right side.

What you can do...

Pain in this area should be taken very seriously; do not dismiss it and go to bed. Call your health professional immediately.

Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain is a very common complaint of pregnancy. However, sometimes it may indicate a problem with the liver, especially if it accompanies other symptoms or preeclampsia.

What you can do...

Read also Stomach and Right Shoulder Pain (above) and mention this symptom to your health care provider. If this pain accompanies one or more of the other symptoms, you should call your health care provider immediately.


Hyperreflexia is when your reflexes are so strong that when they are checked, your leg bounces back hard.

What you can do...

This is not usually something you will notice yourself, but if you are bumped and you notice an abnormally strong reflexive response, it might merit a call to your health care provider


 

Amy - posted on 08/21/2009

9

29

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I was admitted to the hospital at 29 1/2 weeks with hypertension. My blood pressure at admitance was 175/112! After being admitted in the hospital I was diagnosed with Pre-eclampsia and then HELLP (after my husband and mom practically yelling at the nurse to call the Dr)

I developed the most horrible pain I had ever felt... in my shoulder. The best way for me to describe it is when you have a toothache and are senstive to hot or cold. If felt like there was a hole through my shoulder and ice cold air was blowing through it. Absoutely horrible.

Anytime during pregnancy that you are having pain (other than the normal aches of stretching) definitely call the Dr.

Now my baby boy is a happy healthy 20 pound 8 month old!

Elaine - posted on 07/08/2009

19

15

0

Signs and Symptoms

None
Hypertension
Swelling or Edema
Proteinuria
Sudden Weight Gain
Headache
Nausea or Vomiting
Changes in Vision
Racing pulse, mental confusion, heightened anxiety, trouble catching your breath
Stomach or Right Shoulder Pain
Lower back pain
Hyperreflexia
None

High blood pressure is a silent killer. Oftentimes, women diagnosed with preeclampsia do not feel sick. Many signs and symptoms of preeclampsia mirror other "normal" effects of pregnancy on your body. Women diagnosed with preeclampsia may feel frustrated when prescribed bedrest because they feel fine. If you feel fine, it may be hard for you or your partner to appreciate that preeclampsia is a serious condition.

What you can do...

Proper prenatal care is essential. Tests taken at these check-ups: weighing in, checking your blood pressure, dipping your urine are all done to screen for preeclampsia. Particularly after 20 weeks--do not miss your prenatal appointments. As with any pregnancy, a good prenatal diet full of vitamins, antioxidants, minerals and the basic food groups is important; cutting back on processed foods, refined sugars, and cutting out caffeine, alcohol and any medication not prescribed by a physician is essential. It is also advisable to speak with your health care professional before taking any supplement, herbal or otherwise.

Hypertension (High blood pressure)

High blood pressure is defined as blood pressure of 140/90 or greater as measured on two separate occasions within six hours. However, a woman who normally has a low baseline blood pressure, such as 90/60, could be considered hypertensive at a blood pressure of less than that - especially if she has other symptoms. A rise in the diastolic (lower number) of 15 degrees or more, or a rise in the systolic (upper number) of 30 degrees or more is cause for concern.

In 1990 the National Institutes of Health, National High Blood Pressure Education Program: Working Group Report on High Blood Pressure in Pregnancy issued the following research guidelines:

In the past it has been recommended that an increase of 30 mm Hg systolic or 15 mm Hg diastolic blood pressure be used as a diagnostic criterion, even when absolute values are below 140/90 mm Hg. This definition has not been included in our criteria because the only available evidence shows that women in this group are not likely to suffer increased adverse outcomes. Nonetheless, it is the collective clinical opinion of this panel that women who have a rise of 30 mm Hg systolic or 15 mm Hg diastolic blood pressure warrant close observation, especially if proteinuria and hyperuricemia (uric acid [UA] greater than or equal to 6 mg/dL) are also present.

It should also be noted that 4 members of the Preeclampsia Foundation Medical Board and our Executive Director participated in this working group. There was significant debate over removing baseline BP as diagnostic which is why the final sentence was included. The Preeclampsia Foundation continues to encourage its women, particularly those with low baseline BPs, to know their baseline and to be aware of significant changes and to make any concerns about those changes known to their health care provider.

What you can do...

Know your baseline blood pressure (your blood pressure prior to pregnancy), learn what it means, and ask, "What are my numbers" at each visit. If you are told "It's fine," repeat, "What are my numbers?" If you have had preeclampsia before or if you have chronic high blood pressure, consult a specialist, a high risk OB, or a perinatologist, about your pregnancy. You can find a perinatologist near you who specializes in hypertensive diseases of pregnancy by going to the North American Society for the Study of Hypertension in Pregnancy (www.nasshp.com). Women who have had preeclampsia in a previous pregnancy should request a full screening by a perinatologist to rule out any underlying disease or problems, such as chronic hypertension, autoimmune disorders, thrombophilias, renal disease, etc. Women with a previous history of preeclampsia should have subsequent pregnancies supervised by an obstetrician or a perinatologist. The single large risk factor for getting preeclampsia is a history of having had it before.

If you are inactive or have a higher-than-average body mass index (BMI), make sure to exercise moderately and get yourself in the best shape you can. (You can calculate your BMI). Women with a BMI of 30 or higher are at an increased risk of preeclampsia and should make efforts to reduce this risk by following the advice of their doctor.
Finally, you can buy your own blood pressure monitor at most pharmacies. Some pharmacies have a monitor available for your use. Keep a log of your blood pressure, taken at the same time each day, if possible, and in the same position. Share it with your care provider. If you own your own monitor, you can take it with you to your appointment and have it calibrated to match those in the office. You might also ask your doctor when they last had their monitor calibrated.

It should be noted that home monitors are not always as accurate as those in one's clinic or hospital. Home readings should not replace prenatal visits, nor should a "normal" reading mean ignoring symptoms that may be markers of preeclampsia. Home readings should only be used to help the mother be more proactive in her care.

If you are diagnosed with preeclampsia, many physicians will recommend bedrest, and in late pregnancy, lying on your left side. While health care providers don't always agree that lying on your left side will help, there is no evidence of harm. The thinking is that lying flat on your back might cause the pregnant uterus (and the weight of the baby) to restrict the vein that supplies the heart.

Swelling or Edema (particularly of the hands or face)

A certain amount of swelling during pregnancy is normal. Edema is the accumulation of excess fluid. It is particularly concerning when it accumulates in the face (eyes) or hands. It is normal to have trouble wearing rings throughout pregnancy.

What you can do...

Find a picture of yourself just before pregnancy. Share it with your provider if you feel your face is getting excessively puffy. If the swelling in your extremities becomes severe, you may notice pitting edema (when you press your thumb into your skin, an indentation remains for a few seconds) or discoloration of your legs. If this happens, notify your provider, put your feet up every day (but avoid sitting for extended periods) and drink water to keep hydrated.

Proteinuria (Protein in your urine)

Proteinuria is the result of proteins, normally confined to the blood, spilling into your urine because the small blood vessels in the kidneys become damaged. A simple dipstick test of your urine at each prenatal check-up can screen for proteinuria.

What you can do...

At each prenatal visit ask for the results of the urine test. Usually the nurse dips a reagent strip into your urine sample and then waits a minute for the results. The strips have the markings for "trace", 1+, 2+, etc. A reading of trace protein is relatively common and is usually not a cause for concern. If the strip shows a reading of 1+ or greater, it may signify the onset of preeclampsia, even if your blood pressure is less than 140/90. If you have a reading of 2+, call your health care provider immediately. If you are concerned, or have had preeclampsia before, you can buy reagent strips at some pharmacies or online. They are not cheap and insurance might not cover them.

Sometimes health care providers will have the mother take a 24-hour urine collection for a formal lab assessment. This is not a particularly pleasant task, but if you have been asked to do this, follow the directions of your health care provider carefully, and make every effort to be accurate.

Dark yellow urine is usually the result of inadequate fluid intake and dehydration. However, urine that is quite dark, reddish or the color of cola may indicate a problem. If you have any of these symptoms, inform your care provider.

Sudden Weight Gain

A gain of more than 2 pounds in a week or 6 pounds in a month could be cause for concern.

What you can do...

In general, eat normally and make every effort to include fresh raw fruit and vegetables, your prenatal vitamin, and a folic acid supplement in your diet. Do not diet or try to lose weight. It is important that you eat a healthy, balanced diet. Avoid excessive salt. And as always, avoid alcohol, caffeine, smoking and recreational drugs. Consult with your provider regarding non-prescription drugs and any herbal medications you might take. The Preeclampsia Foundation recognizes the importance of a good diet but does not endorse any particular diet nor juice product. Given that preeclampsia is a complex disease, women will develop it for different reasons. We encourage all women to share with their doctors any diets or product they are trying. For some women--a good diet may make a significant difference, however we urge caution when trying diets, particularly those that encourage large amounts of protein. For women with underlying kidney disease--excessive protein can be unsafe. Similarly, while some women might benefit from low-dose aspirin--studies show that it has been linked with increased placental abruption and miscarriage and so should not be taken routinely by pregnant women unless they have been advised to do so by their physician.

Be sure to drink plenty of water and get regular moderate exercise. At your prenatal visits do not attempt to disguise any weight gain by skipping breakfast, using diet pills or fasting for the day. An accurate weight is vital for a proper diagnosis.

Headaches

Dull, throbbing headaches, often described as migraine-like that just won't go away.

What you can do...

Call your care provider. If you have tried taking over-the-counter medication without relief, or if the headache is very painful or you have light sensitivity, call immediately and ask to see the doctor that day.

Nausea or Vomiting

Nausea or vomiting is particularly significant when the onset is sudden and in the second or third trimesters.

What you can do...

Call your care provider. Nausea or vomiting can be confused with the flu, so be sure to get your blood pressure checked and ask to have your urine checked for proteinuria. Insist on both.

Changes in Vision

Vision changes include temporary loss of vision, sensations of flashing lights, auras, light sensitivity, and blurry vision or spots. For some women who are farsighted, vision may actually improve.

What you can do...

If you have any of these symptoms, you may be developing preeclampsia. Symptoms such as these may be associated with irritation of the central nervous system and should be taken seriously. They may be indicative of cerebral edema (swelling of the brain). It is very important that you consult with your provider as soon as possible. If he or she is not available, you should go directly to the hospital. We regard these symptoms as potentially very serious and they should not be left until the morning, tomorrow and particularly not until the end of the weekend. With preeclampsia, it is better to have the health professionals tell you it was nothing, than to take a chance that might risk your or the baby's life. No doctor ever died from seeing a woman too many times.

Racing pulse, mental confusion, heightened sense of anxiety, trouble catching your breath

If these symptoms are new to you, they could indicate an elevated blood pressure.

What you can do...

Contact your health care provider if these symptoms are new. If they are not, be sure to mention them at your next visit.

Stomach and/or Right Shoulder Pain

This type of stomach pain, called epigastric pain by the medical profession, is usually under the right-side ribs. It can be confused with heartburn, gallbladder problems, flu, indigestion or pain from the baby kicking. Shoulder pain is often called referral pain because it radiates from the liver under the right ribs. Lower back pain is different from muscle strain common to pregnancy. It is usually more acute and specific. All may be a sign of HELLP Syndrome or a related problem in the liver. Shoulder pain can feel like someone is deeply pinching you along the bra strap, or it can be painful to lie on your right side.

What you can do...

Pain in this area should be taken very seriously; do not dismiss it and go to bed. Call your health professional immediately.

Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain is a very common complaint of pregnancy. However, sometimes it may indicate a problem with the liver, especially if it accompanies other symptoms or preeclampsia.

What you can do...

Read also Stomach and Right Shoulder Pain (above) and mention this symptom to your health care provider. If this pain accompanies one or more of the other symptoms, you should call your health care provider immediately.


Hyperreflexia is when your reflexes are so strong that when they are checked, your leg bounces back hard.

What you can do...

This is not usually something you will notice yourself, but if you are bumped and you notice an abnormally strong reflexive response, it might merit a call to your health care provider

Marie - posted on 05/29/2009

105

63

5

I don't remember any chest pain, but with my first, i was swollen to the max and I gained 10 lbs in 1 week when I was 38 weeks and had him 2 days later. Guess the sudden weight gain was the major sign. With my 2nd, headaches and swelling, but not so much the weight this time. Now, with the 3rd....scared outta my mind....I have very bad headaches and I'm just shy or 12 weeks. oh no. But now that I know more, I am better prepared. My doc put me on Asprin to help prevent it again. sure hope it works.

April - posted on 05/28/2009

43

47

6

I got Pre E. at 32 weeks and had SUPER swollen feet, my sister said they looked like " a water logged dead body" i had spots in my vision, over active reflexes and my blood pressure was really high. I delivered by C-sec at 37 weeks and still had high BP. it was normally around 115 over 70 but with the Pre E it went up to 208 over 109... eek very bad. also had protein in my urine and my hands and feet wouldn't stop sweating.

Nara - posted on 05/18/2009

12

14

1

my feet were ridiculously swollen, I couldnt even fit in my flip flops anymore, i took a photo of my foot at the time, its scary to see it now!
also had headaches, left eye pain, chest pain and short breath, but I thought that was from being petite and having a big baby inside me!

Julie - posted on 05/07/2009

126

21

7

I was almost asymptomatic, no high bp at all, fundus height fine, though I got swelling in the hands and feet, I tought it was normal... they only picked up on the pre-e after a urine test for protein when I presented at the hospital with labour symptoms. They induced me (thankfully I was at 36 weeks, far enough along for her to be delivered fairly safely); they only found out she was growth-restricted once she came out and was weighed in at 3lb 9oz!

Anna - posted on 02/17/2009

129

18

19

I think it is amazing how many symptoms we all that felt we just linked to being pregnant. I remember talking to the nurse in the OB office the appt before they sent me up to a specialist and she told me that the swelling, being really tired, horrible carpal tunnel, dizzy spells, and vision problems were all just normal pregnancy things. Of course being a first time mom I had nothing to compare it to so I went along with that and just "sucked it up" the next two weeks even though I felt rotten.



I am amazed at the number of women that have these issues and how little the regular OB's seem to know about it.

Amanda - posted on 02/16/2009

43

7

8

I developed preeclampsia between 6 and 7 months and ended up delivering at 30 weeks.I had a couple of physical symptoms that should have given it away, but I was a first time mom and just sucked it up to being pregnancy aches & pains because I didn't know any different. Unfortunately, at the time I knew nothing about preclampsia and had no idea the level of danger the baby and I were actually in.



Like some of the others, I too had developed a sharp pain in my chest, but oddly enough, it only occured when I went to bed or tried to lay down, and it hurt with every breath I took. It got to the point where I was sleeping downstairs on the couch, so that I could sit up and sleep because it didn't seem to hurt as bad that way. I also began swelling shortly after I hit the 6-month mark and it just never subsided. It got to the point where it was difficult for me to walk because my ankles hurt so bad & I could only wear one pair of shoes, a stretchy pair with the shoe laces completely undone. Not to mention, I would be totally exhausted after just walking a short distance. I naively went to my 30-week appt thinking there was an easy fix. I thought best case scenario, they give me a prescription for the chest pain, and worst case scenario, they put me on bed rest for the swelling. Low and behold, it turns out my blood pressure reading was through the roof and I had gained 12 pounds in just 2-weeks because my body was retaining so much water. (I was purposely not weighing myself while pregnant because I wanted to focus on having a healthy baby & not how much weight I was putting on, so I had no idea I had put on so much weight). I went for my 30 week appt and ended up being sent over to Labor and Delivery for what was supposed to be a 24-hour observation. Needless to say, things began to go further south very quickly and my son was delivered by emergency c-section just a little over 72 hours after I was admitted.

Kristi - posted on 02/12/2009

706

10

128

I went from totally fine to massive epigastric pain in 2 days. 24w5days the pain started, 24w6 days I was in the hospital on bed rest, they delivered me 3 days after that ... amazing how quickly it goes!!!

User - posted on 02/12/2009

25

14

3

The first signal with both of mine, at about 6-7 months, was swelling that didn't go down with rest. That was about the time my heart broke with my 2nd. I knew I was going to go through all of it again. Then with her I had the epigastric pain that would come and go. At first I thought it was an asthma attack or bad gas pains. When it got so bad I couldn't stand it I went to the emergency room. After an initial misdiagnosis, they determined I had HELLP and I was induced that day.

Erin - posted on 02/11/2009

22

32

1

WoW!!! I had the most horrible pain in my chest too. It felt like someone was stabbing me in my chest. I had it again about 2 days again after I had my daughter. They never figured out what it was from. They knew I had HELLPS but they werent sure what was causing it. So one of the moms here was told the liver caused it... that interesting because they had a hard time getting my liver enzymes back to normal after my c-sec.

Ashley - posted on 01/23/2009

858

17

40

i had preeclampsia at 39 weeks so in that way i was lucky because my son was full term...but for me i was badly swollen....my hands and feet were so badly swollen i couldnt wear shoes or socks...when i would wake up i could barely walk because my feet were so badly swollen they actually hurt to walk on...some mornings my hands were so badly swollen i couldnt even close them....i didnt mention it to my dr cuz i didnt know but if ur that badly swollen i would say talk to the dr

[deleted account]

That is very interesting. Because I had severe chest pain as well. I never recognized it as anything but heartburn and neither did my doctors. But NOTHING helped it. My chest would hurt SO bad. So you have just educated me! Ha ha! Thanks!

Abi - posted on 01/23/2009

30

2

2

I was diagnosed with HELLP at 28 weeks and my daughter was delivered by emergency c-section.  My blood pressure was usually 90/60 and went to 150/95, so that wasn't unusually "high".  The biggest indicator for me was the incredible chest pain that my liver was causing....misdiagnosed as extreme heartburn....that wouldn't go away!  If you have excruciating pain in your upper abdomen that doesn't go away with antacids....go to the doctor.

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