My name is Emily and I’m from Columbia, SC. My daughter just turned 5 months old (it really is true, it goes so fast) and I’m writing this blog from my favorite place, a nursing session turned nap trap. My husband and I have been married for almost 4 years and we love to travel and watch Marvel movies. I am also a dancer, I grew up as a competitive dancer and have recently gotten back into dancing with an adult dance company, Unbound.
What I really want you to know about me is that I’m a different person than I was before having post-partum preeclampsia. Yes, having a baby changes you but I fully believe that I am even more changed because of my journey with preeclampsia.
It all started on a Thursday at my 37 week appointment. I had been checking my blood pressure at home almost my whole pregnancy due to having elevated readings in the doctors office due to anxiety and nerves but this appointment was different because my readings at home were now elevated. I knew in my gut that I was not going to hear what I wanted to hear at this appointment but “it’s time to go to labor and delivery” still was not what I had expected. Nevertheless, I was wheeled across the hall to L&D, called my husband and told him to bring the bag and meet me there. My blood pressure was 165/99. If you didn’t know, while you’re pregnant it is really important that your blood pressure be under 140/80 so my blood pressure was getting dangerous. I was induced late that Thursday night and Friday evening we welcomed our beautiful girl into the world. My blood pressure normalized, I felt great, nursing was going wonderful, everything was fine. We were discharged Sunday afternoon and I was instructed to keep an eye on my blood pressure and watch out for symptoms for preeclampsia (headache, swelling, blurred vision) but I thought I had dodged the bullet.
That first day home is a blur as we were all exhausted but so glad to be home. Monday came and I felt a little swelling in my face but thought “oh it was just the IV fluids from labor”, went to bed ready to wake up every 2 hours to feed my little girl. 2:30am Tuesday I woke up to breastfeed and had a headache, I checked my blood pressure just in case, thinking still it’s just because I’m so tired, and it was 167/101. My heart sunk, I was terrified. I woke my husband up, called the hospital to tell them we were on our way and we got in the car and left.
The next few days in the hospital are hard to remember. After being admitted to the hospital I was put on blood pressure medication, IV fluids, and a magnesium drip for 24 hours. The magnesium was to prevent strokes and seizures and it made me feel terrible, like the worst flu I’ve ever had. It took a few tries of different dosages of medication to get my blood pressure better. Three days later I was discharged and sent home on blood pressure medication that I would probably need for up to 12 weeks. Two days after being discharged I had a check up with my OB where we again had to raise my medication because my blood pressure was still high. Finally, it was stabilized.
All in all I was on blood pressure medication for 11 weeks. I checked my blood pressure like a maniac for 13 weeks following birth. I never in my mind thought I would have had preeclampsia but it happened. I learned it can happen to anyone. Preeclampsia doesn’t care how healthy you are, how young you are, if it’s your first baby or your fifth.
Every pregnant woman has a 1 in 25 chance of developing preeclampsia furring or after pregnancy (up to 6 weeks postpartum but new studies are seeing it can develop even later in postpartum). Now that I’ve had preeclampsia I have a 1 in 4 chance of having preeclampsia again.
What I really really want you to get out of this blog post is this, if you’re pregnant, want to be pregnant one day, know someone who is pregnant please educate yourself on preeclampsia. I was lucky enough to catch it and get it under control. Thank God for that blood pressure cuff.
Preeclampsia is defined as a hypertensive disorder that occurs during pregnancy or during the post partum period. It is marked by high blood pressure and protein presence in urine which indicates that your kidney is not properly filtering the protein like it should.
Pre-eclampsia can have symptoms or no symptoms at all so regular pre and post natal care is imperative.
-none (literally no symptoms, you feel completely normal)
-protein in your urine
-blurred vision or seeing spots
-swelling (face: especially around the eyes, hands, feet)
-abdominal and/or shoulder pain (URQ: upper right quadrant of your ribs)
-lower back pain
-sudden weight gain
-hyperreflexia (strong reflexes)
-shortness of breath/anxiety
If you experience any of these symptoms with a blood pressure reading higher than 140/90 call your doctor or head to the hospital.
I had multiple symptoms but many symptoms did not start for me until after I was admitted back into the hospital. My journey with postpartum preeclampsia taught me how precious life is. Take care of yourself, take care of your loved ones, and enjoy every day you are given.
You can find me on Instagram where I promise to share more about preeclampsia @emilymorganjones
Check out @preeclampsia.foundation on Instagram to learn more and stay educated!
Check out preeclampsia.org for more information and talk to your provider about your risks, symptoms to look out for, and ask for a blood pressure cuff!