Letters to the Editor

Pre-eclampsia doesn't necessarily repeat itself

Tuesday, July 24, 2012    

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Dear Editor,

I read keenly the article in the July 22 Sunday Observer about the young woman who lost her baby because she had toxaemia while pregnant. I am very familiar with this as my experience was almost identical to hers. I noted one key statement in the article where she says, "I (had) realised that my feet were swelling and they weren't going down like they used to, but I naturally have poor circulation so I thought nothing of it."

Here is the problem: some women have health issues before they are pregnant and they are not getting any treatment for them. Poor circulation is not a normal condition by itself. In addition, what precautions was she taking in her diet? Doctors are not there to monitor your behaviour and record your intake of fluids. Some people think they are drinking enough water when they are not.

As I reflect on my own experience, I recall that I was not eating a healthy diet, not drinking enough water, was reacting negatively to stress, and not getting enough exercise. Many women focus more on getting baby clothes and furniture because they "feel well". More attention must be paid to the daily health of the mother beyond taking urine tests and ultrasounds. Having a very low blood pressure prior to pregnancy can also fool the doctor into thinking that the blood pressure is normal when it reaches 120/80. For the woman who is going into pre-eclampsia, what seems like an otherwise normal pressure is actually high for her. Some women do not heed the warning to stay in bed when the doctor tells them to. Why? Because they feel well.

I would emphasise the importance of keeping your mind very relaxed. Some women are experiencing great stress because they have conflicts with the pregnancy; they may be pregnant out of wedlock, deserted by the father, or have other family conflicts. These problems add to the stress felt by the mother and can affect the health of the baby. Other family members can help the mother to remain calm, and put away selfish interests.

It is important for the mother who has had toxaemia to learn from the experience so that she can have a better experience the next time. She can also assist the doctors by being clear on what possible contributing factors may have caused her blood pressure to rise. She may also learn about things she can do to improve circulation if this is a known problem. Having one episode of pre-eclampsia doesn't necessarily mean that it will repeat itself again and again.

Ann Hope

Montego Bay

St James

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