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Preeclampsia: What does that mean for me?

Two years ago, I (Sarah) had already been in labor for about 24 hours. I was 36 weeks pregnant. Preeclampsia was the diagnosis and induction was the new game plan. What did that even mean? I had planned for an all natural, intervention free birth, and now my birth plan was beginning to fly right out the window.

Preeclampsia is characterized by high-blood pressure in pregnancy, and women will show high levels of protein in their urine. Often times swelling in hands, legs, and feet can occur too among other signs such as headache, nausea, or sudden weight gain. It is no fun, and can be very dangerous if not treated. So, what's a momma to do?

Pregnancy is an amazing and often confusing journey. Your body is going through so many changes, month to month, and day to day, it can be hard to figure out what is normal. That is why it is so important to educate yourself. Talk to your care provider and make sure to tell them everything! Even something that you may not think seems like a big deal could be an indicator that somethings up.

If you are diagnosed with preeclampsia prior to 37 weeks, you can expect to be going to the doctor even more (didn't think that was possible did you?). Your blood pressure and protein will be closely monitored, as well as the baby to make sure that your little one is still doing okay. If at any point the baby is showing signs of getting uncomfortable, it will be time to deliver.

Doulas are a great resource for all moms, but in a high risk situation such as preeclampsia, we can really help to ensure that although your birth plan may have to change, you can still achieve as many of your goals as possible. We will make sure that you have all the information and support you need to understand what is happening every step of the way. We are educated on the signs and symptoms, we are familiar with the medications you may need, and we know first hand how it feels to be where you are. Preeclampsia can be scary, but you can still have an amazing birth experience.

My birth story unfolded over 45 hours and I could never repay my doulas for the confidence they gave me throughout those days. Don't let a high risk pregnancy define your goals for your birth. Give yourself some grace. We are strong moms and we can achieve more than we know. I gave birth to a very tiny little girl. But I did it naturally, with as few interventions as necessary. We were successfully able to breastfeed, we avoided the NICU, and two years later we are still stronger from our BIRTH-day with preeclampsia.

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