Preeclampsia: What you should know

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Pregnancy usually means regular doctors appointments to check up on mom and baby. 

A local doctor says she can’t stress enough how important getting to these appointments are when it comes to keeping an expecting mother and her baby healthy. 

Elsie Punt is a mother of three, but bringing them into the world wasn’t easy.  

“At 28 weeks I came in for an ultrasound because he was a little growth restricted and they were like ‘Oh you’re not having proper blood flow. We’re going to send you to the hospital.’ And he was born a week later at 29 weeks. So he was in the NICU for a long time and they said that was all because of preeclampsia,” Elsie Punt said.

Preeclampsia is a complication that occurs in pregnant women, characterized by high blood pressure. 
Dr. Kimberlee McKay says there is no known cause, but that it is a disease of the placenta. 

“The placenta is something that’s meant to stick around for about 40 weeks so we know that if placentas age more quickly that mom’s blood pressure has to increase in order to preserve blood flow to the baby and that in turn makes her blood pressure go up,” McKay said. 

She says it affects up to 10 percent of all pregnancies, and if you have it once you’re at a higher risk for any future pregnancies. 

“It’s most common in first time mamas and it’s actually one of the leading causes of what we call severe maternal morbidity and maternal mortality in the United States,” Dr. Kimberlee McKay said.

Punt had preeclampsia throughout all three of her pregnancies, but with knowledge from her first pregnancy she was able to better prepare. 

There is no cure for this complication but doctors say by giving birth to your baby your body will go back to normal. 

Unfortunately, giving birth isn’t always a safe option. That’s why McKay is urging women to attend each and every prenatal appointment.

“It’s very tempting to skip prenatal appointments when you get busy and especially in that last 6 or 8 weeks of pregnancy it’s extremely important to see your physician,” McKay said. 

She says attending regular appointments can help spot as well as manage the complication because preeclampsia often times appears with little to no symptoms.

“Talk to your doctor, get your blood pressure checked. It’s never a bad thing to know, it’s always better to know than not know and let it sneak up on you,” Punt said. 

McKay adds that preeclampsia can continue after giving birth, reminding women that it’s crucial to attend doctors appointments even after the baby is born. 

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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