Preeclampsia

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The other day on swing shift, the mercy midwives were sitting around at a table folding gauze to be sterilized and talking. I mentioned my interest in completing a Masters of Science degree in Midwifery (MSM) one day with a research project on preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is high blood pressure, combined with protein in urine and, often, excessive bodily swelling. It happens to approximately 1/12 women in pregnancy. It happened to two of my closest friends, Stacey and Kate, when they were pregnant, and it has happened to more than one woman I have cared for as a midwife. Preeclampsia can lead to life-threatening seizures (eclampsia), and it is something I would like to understand better so I can help prevent and successfully treat it.

As we were talking about this, Diesmond’s mother came into the birth room! I was so happy to see her again after her birth. But it turned out she had been sent in to have her blood pressure monitored. At five days postpartum, her B/P was rising. As we monitored over the next hour, it rose from 140/90 to 170/110, with other symptoms of dizziness and pain in the back of her head and neck as well as visible swelling. We transported to the hospital so she could be treated, with mag sulfate and possibly other medications, and avoid a seizure.

I prayed that she would be noticed immediately in the OR and cared for. (This doesn’t happen for all of our transports, unfortunately.) When an intern nurse, Heather, returned from transporting the mother, she told me that she had indeed been noticed right away. Staff docs took her blood pressure and then took her in immediately for care. Thank you, Jesus.

This event reinforced in my mind just how critical a better understanding of preeclampsia is and how important further research on the topic will be to others.

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