Postpartum Preeclampsia: A Leading Killer Of Postnatal Mothers
The joy of welcoming a newborn into the world can be an extraordinary experience for parents. However, there are certain medical conditions that can pose a serious threat to the health of the mother. Such was the case for Purity Mwangi a brave and resilient woman who battled postpartum eclampsia after her third pregnancy. Having successfully navigated the joys and challenges of motherhood twice before, she felt well-prepared for the journey.
However, as her pregnancy progressed, challenges began. When time to give birth came, she went into induced labour Shortly after giving birth to a healthy baby boy, Purity together with her husband’s joy turned to fear as she started experiencing intense severe headaches (frontal and back side of her head) which persisted for
days and swelling of her limbs. Alarmed by these symptoms, she rushed back to the hospital prior to her scheduled clinic where she had given birth to her son. Unfortunately, her misery began after being misdiagnosed that she had not taken enough water, that’s why she was having severe headaches.
Her condition presented a daunting challenge for Purity and the medics. The sudden onset of seizures, Intense headaches even after being given some painkillers, and the severity of the condition where she lost consciousness this necessitated immediate medical intervention where they took her CT-Scan then she was referred to Kenyatta University Teaching, Referral &Research Hospital (KUTRRH )for further treatment. At KUTRRH she was admitted to the ICU after she was diagnosed with Post partum preeclampsia. She was then later on taken to the maternity ward where she
was closely monitored for two weeks. Purity ‘s experience with postpartum preeclampsia has profoundly impacted her perspective on future pregnancies. Her experience has reinforced the significance of preconception planning and ongoing care during pregnancy and the need to create awareness of this silent killer disease that is claiming the lives of mothers without them knowing.
What is post-partum preeclampsia?
Postpartum preeclampsia is a rare condition that occurs when you have high blood pressure and excess protein in your urine soon after childbirth.Pre eclampsia is thought to be caused by the placenta not developing properly due to a problem with the blood vessels supplying it.It mostly occurs within 48 hours of delivery but it can also occur up to six weeks after the baby is born. Postpartum preeclampsia can lead to seizures which can cause permanent damage to the brain, liver and kidneys. It can also result in pulmonary edema where fluid fills the lungs and stroke.
There is also an increased risk of thrombosis, increased morbidity and mortality associated specifically with stroke in women. Preeclampsia is associated with an increased relative risk for the development of end-stage kidney disease (ESKD) in the mother. Medics state that to reduce adverse neonatal and maternal outcomes, it is critical to identify, manage, referral and closely follow up pregnant women with pre-eclampsia throughout the pregnancy continuum. Postpartum preeclampsia is different from preeclampsia, a condition that occurs while you’re pregnant. Postpartum preeclampsia only happens after the baby is born. Even people who have never had high blood pressure or preeclampsia can get postpartum preeclampsia.
Symptoms of postpartum preeclampsia
• New or unusual headaches which can be very severe.
• Eye problems -blurry or loss of vision, sensitivity to light
• A swollen face, arms and legs
• Stomach pain near the ribs.
• Nausea and vomiting.
• Decreased urination.
• Sudden weight gain (several pounds or more in a week)
If you have symptoms of postpartum preeclampsia, you need immediate medical attention. Early detection is vital for effective treatment and management of preeclampsia.