Preeclampsia is one of the most common pregnancy complications that is characterised by high blood pressure, protein in their urine, and swelling in their legs, feet and hands. This complication can range from mild to severe, which can threaten both you and your baby. To give more insightful info about preeclampsia, Motherhood decided to get the answer from a professional in her field - Dr Nor Elyana Noordin, a Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at Sunway Medical Centre Velocity. Q1. Does stress during pregnancy causes preeclampsia? Dr Elyana: Preeclampsia is a pregnancy complication characterised by high blood pressure and signs of damage to another organ system, most often kidneys whereby the kidney leaks out protein (proteinuria). The underlying mechanism involves abnormal formation of blood vessels in the placenta as well as abnormality in the pregnant lady\u2019s blood vessels. Preeclampsia usually begins after 20 weeks of pregnancy in women whose blood pressure had been normal. Stress does not cause preeclampsia, but to those who already have preeclampsia, stress may exacerbate it. Q2. Are there any specific symptoms that I should look for if I have preeclampsia? Dr Elyana: Preeclampsia sometimes develops without any symptoms. High blood pressure may develop slowly, or it may have a sudden onset. This should be picked up during antenatal check-ups. In some cases, further symptoms can develop, including: \t severe headache \t vision problems - changes in vision, including temporary loss of vision, blurred vision or light sensitivity. \t pain just below the ribs \t severe nausea and vomiting Sudden weight gain and swelling (oedema) \u2014 particularly in your face and hands \u2014 may occur with preeclampsia. However, these also occur in many normal pregnancies, so they are not considered reliable signs of preeclampsia. Q3. Who is at high risk for preeclampsia? Dr Elyana: Those who are at risks of preeclampsia are individuals who: \t Have diabetes, high blood pressure or kidney disease before starting a pregnancy. \t Have another condition, such as lupus or antiphospholipid syndrome or \t Have developed the condition during a previous pregnancy Other things that can slightly increase your chances of developing preeclampsia include: \t First-time pregnancy \t Family history of the condition \t Being over 40 years old \t 10 years since your last pregnancy \t Expecting multiple babies (twins or triplets) \t Body mass index (BMI) of 35 or over Q4. Can preeclampsia lead to serious complications during pregnancy? Dr Elyana: Yes. For mothers: Preeclampsia is a progressive disease. It is usually picked up during the antenatal check-up before it gets serious. Rare but serious complications of preeclampsia include: \t Stroke \t Seizure \t Fluid build-up in your chest \t Heart failure \t Reversible blindness \t Bleeding from your liver \t Bleeding after you have given birth When preeclampsia or eclampsia damages the liver and blood cells, a complication called HELLP syndrome can happen. HELLP stands for: \t Hemolysis. This is when the red blood cells that carry oxygen through the body break down. \t Elevated liver enzymes. High levels of these chemicals in the blood mean liver problems. \t Low platelet counts. This is when platelets are not enough, so blood does not clot the way it should. For the baby: Preeclampsia can keep the placenta from getting enough blood. This can cause fetal growth restriction whereby the baby is smaller than the expected weight. It\u2019s also one of the most common causes of premature birth. Preeclampsia can also cause the placenta to suddenly separate from the uterus, (placental abruption), which can lead to stillbirth. Q5. What would be the treatment for preeclampsia? Would you recommend any natural remedy to treat this condition? Dr Elyana: The only way to cure preeclampsia is to deliver the baby. Those who have preeclampsia will be monitored regularly until it is possible for the baby to be delivered. This will normally be at around 37 to 38 weeks of pregnancy. However, if the preeclampsia is severe, earlier delivery is necessary. At this point, labour may be started artificially (induced) or delivery by caesarean section. Medication may be started to lower blood pressure and prevent seizures while waiting for the baby to be delivered. If the pregnancy has not reached it's full-term, a corticosteroid may be given for fetal lung maturity. To date, there is no known natural remedy to treat this condition. Q6. What is the difference between preeclampsia and eclampsia? Dr Elyana: Eclampsia means fit\/seizures. It is the most severe form of preeclampsia. Q7. Do I have to avoid any food or drinks if I have preeclampsia? Dr Elyana: Currently, there is no study that suggests avoiding any food or drinks to prevent preeclampsia. However, there are things that can be done to lower the risks of preeclampsia such as taking Vitamin D supplement and aspirin. Q8. Are there any other types of high blood pressure disorders during pregnancy? Dr Elyana: Preeclampsia is a condition specific to pregnancy-whereby the high blood pressure develops after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Some women may have high blood pressure even before getting pregnant. This can be secondary to other conditions or essential hypertension (hypertension with unknown cause). Q9. Is it safe to get pregnant again after preeclampsia? Dr Elyana: If a patient had preeclampsia, it is likely she will have preeclampsia in the subsequent pregnancy. Measures need to be taken in the subsequent pregnancy to lower the risks. Q10. It is said that preeclampsia during pregnancy typically resolves with the birth of the baby. But is it possible for me to still experience preeclampsia after delivery? If yes, is it harmful to my body? Dr Elyana: Most preeclampsia happens in the third trimester of pregnancy. But about 6% happen during the postpartum period - especially 48 hours after delivery. If it is not detected early, it can be harmful. The complications that happen during pregnancy can also happen after delivery. One thing that we always remind every mum-to-be is to always consult your doctor. Do not make your own decision or simply follow any 'petua' that you think is good. Stay tuned with Motherhood Story for more qualified advice and answers from the experts.