Preeclampsia Awareness Month: One Chicago Mama Tells Her Story

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Please welcome Wee Windy City's newest guest blogger, Kate Schott Bolduc. Kate is a writer, mom and mom-to-be to a second child due in August. On her blog, Big City Belly, she provides news, resources and personal stories from the trenches of motherhood for expecting and new moms in Chicago. In an effort to raise awareness about preeclampsia (during the month of May -- which happens to be Preeclampsia Awareness Month), Kate is sharing a little bit about her personal experience, plus tips on what every expectant mama should look out for. Wondering why the nurse takes your blood pressure at every pre-natal visit? Read on.

The other
day I heard a survivor of preeclampsia say, "I just didn't feel right." I knew
exactly what she meant.

I am the
lucky mother of a healthy 17-month-old girl, but the days following her birth
were anything but fortunate. Within seven days of delivery, my blood pressure
shot up and I suffered seizures that would land me back in the hospital away
from my newborn.

Looking
back, so many people missed my symptoms - my mother, a nurse; my brother in
law, a doctor; my lactation consultant; my doctor's office; and the most
important person - me. I had complained of various symptoms like a crushing
headache, swelling, a racing heart and nausea. My doctor even prescribed me an
anti-nausea medication - over the phone. Had I insisted on an in-person visit
or been more knowledgeable about preeclampsia, my story may be different today.

Preeclampsia
can occur during and after pregnancy, sometimes with dire consequences for the
mother and the unborn baby. One in 12 pregnancies will be affected by
preeclampsia. Right now, early diagnosis through simple screening measures and
good prenatal care can predict or delay many adverse maternal outcomes of
preeclampsia. Prompt treatment saves lives.

Recently
I teamed up with the Preeclampsia
Foundation
to help spread the word about this life-threatening disorder and
they shared these simple steps for all expecting or hope-to-be-expecting
parents:

1. Know
the signs
and symptoms

2. Establish
a strong partnership with your health care provider

3. Don't
skip prenatal visits

4. Ask your
health care provider about potential risk factors

5. Trust
yourself, ask questions and be persistent

6. Call
your health care provider ASAP if you experience symptoms or suspect that you
have preeclampsia

7. Share
the information you learn with others

May is
Preeclampsia Awareness Month and throughout the nation thousands of people are
coming together to walk, raise money and raise awareness. The Chicago
Promise Walk
will be held on May 22 in Elk Grove.

Simply
put, a lack of awareness about preeclampsia can be life threatening for mother
and child. By conservative estimates, preeclampsia is responsible for 76,000
maternal deaths and half a million infant deaths each year worldwide. In the
United States, maternal death is not as frequent, but those who survive can
experience severe trauma, lose babies and suffer complications that can lead to
lifelong disabilities.

According
to the Preeclampsia Foundation, research is beginning to provide insight into
some of the molecular abnormalities present in preeclamptic women and it is
hoped that these recent discoveries may lead to development of a predictive
measure or potential cure, but there is still much work to be done. Proponents
are excited by the hope such advances bring, but it is important to note there
is still no way to prevent preeclampsia nor is there a definitive cure.

Education
is our best defense. It could have been for me and my hope is that it is for all
pregnant women everywhere.

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