Posted By  Nicola Swanson, on

For the past ten years, my life has unexpectedly been focused on pregnancy information. Every aspect of pregnancy has now become my new normal. Gathering, researching, listening and constantly searching for answers. I am the aunt of a stillborn baby girl who was taken away too soon from an umbilical cord accident and she will never be forgotten. Recently I had the opportunity to attend The Champions for Change Summit in Chicago and learn about a totally different pregnancy condition. This was an eye opening experience to say the least. A topic on pregnancy I thought to be so small, was nothing close to this. The topic is Preeclampsia. If you know anyone who has experienced this or who is going through this, please know it is a very serious condition.

Preeclampsia is a condition that can come up at any time during a pregnancy and even weeks after childbirth.

There are a lot of symptoms that go along with this like elevated or high blood pressure, edema, swelling, protein in your urine, a pain in the upper right abdomen, difficulty breathing, headaches – these are just to name a few. The problem with these symptoms is they may mimic other issues during pregnancy and may not be taken seriously. I spoke with multiple moms at this summit hosted by the Preeclampsia Foundation and it was heartbreaking how these moms had to FIGHT just to be heard. They were turned away from medical professionals because their protein levels weren’t high enough, or their blood pressure was only slightly elevated. These moms KNEW something was wrong. The worst part – they weren’t taken seriously.

The most powerful moments of this summit was the stories of these moms. One mom I met at our table just lost her son 3 days after birth due to her developing Preeclampsia and delivering her son around Week 28. Another mom almost lost her baby girl – she was born eight weeks early and was in the NICU for weeks. The third mom at our table was pregnant with twins and was able to deliver her babies safely. However, the after effects of HELLP Syndrome have left her with lifetime of serious medical conditions. She is a survivor with type 1 diabetes, cannot digest food on her own and has had over five surgeries since her babies were delivered early 20 months ago.

 The cure for Preeclampsia is to deliver the baby.

The cure for Preeclampsia is to deliver the baby – which means in many cases, babies are born premature and spend significant time in the NICU. There are no other options! With this being said, the number of pregnant women who experience this is staggering. Approximately 1 in 12 women develop Preeclampsia and in some instances it can be fatal to mom and baby. That is a serious issue.

Pregnancy, while it should be such a happy and joyous time for women, can be one of the scariest, if not, most life threatening experiences in their life. It makes me wonder how many other serious conditions are out there for pregnant women. And to go further on this, how many are not getting the attention needed by medical staff? It’s such a sensitive and serious topic and I sit here and think, “How can we learn more to be better advocates for these moms.” I will do anything it takes to help save these moms and babies – just tell me how!

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