Preeclampsia is generally thought of as a complication diagnosed during pregnancy. However, preeclampsia can occur after pregnancy too. Preeclampsia during the fourth trimester can be devastating because it is often overlooked and under diagnosed. Preeclampsia (whether it is diagnosed during pregnancy or postpartum) puts women at risk for seizures, strokes, liver damage, kidney damage and even death. It is imperative for all women to be aware of the signs and symptoms of preeclampsia so that they can seek help immediately.
Here are signs and symptoms you need to look for after delivery:
- Unrelenting headache that is not relieved with Tylenol or ibuprofen.
- High blood pressures. Your blood pressure is considered high when the top number is 140 or higher and/or the bottom number is 90 or higher. If you don’t have a blood pressure cuff at home, you can check your blood pressure at a drug store, grocery store, or local fire station.
- Right upper quadrant abdominal pain. Pain whether it is sharp, gnawing or burning pain in the right upper abdomen, just under the right rib cage.
- Intractable nausea/vomiting.
- Visual disturbances such as difficulty seeing in all visual fields, or experiencing “squiggly lines” in your visual field.
- Chest pain and/or shortness of breath.
If you experience any one of these signs/symptoms listed above, you need to be evaluated by your physician. Contact your physician immediately, these symptoms cannot wait until tomorrow. If your physician is unable to see you, then you should go to the hospital for evaluation.
Gestational diabetes is a change in how your body manages sugar during pregnancy. It is diagnosed by a blood test drawn after drinking a sugar loaded drink at around 26-28 weeks pregnant. Gestational diabetes can either be diet controlled or require medications to control blood sugar levels during pregnancy. Women who are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, particularly gestational diabetes requiring medications to control blood sugar levels during pregnancy are at a higher risk for developing diabetes later in life.
If you were diagnosed with gestational diabetes while you were pregnant here are a few things you need to consider after delivery:
- You should have a diabetes-screening test performed after your six week postpartum visit with your obstetrician.
- Start exercising. Thirty to forty minutes of aerobic activity at least 5 days a week has been shown to reduce the risk of obesity and diabetes. Brisk walking is a fantastic choice for the postpartum momma. Walking is low impact, free, and easy to do in the company of your baby.
- Practice mindful eating to avoid over eating. Pay attention to your food when you are eating. Avoid eating while chatting with friends, watching TV or reading.
- Drink water. Avoid excessive sugar in sodas, sports drinks and fruit juices. Try flavoring your water with cucumbers, lemon, lime, or other fruits using a diffuser or just cut them up and put them directly in your water.
- Reach for fruit when you need a quick snack. Apples and bananas are easy to eat one handed and are not super messy.
- Eat your veggies. Fill most of your dinner plate with veggies instead of bread and pastas.
- Avoid eating foods that come out of a bag or box. These foods are usually high in sugar.
Small changes now could make a huge impact on your health in the future. In addition, you are teaching your children how to eat properly. They learn many of their habits by mimicking you. So improving your eating and exercise habits now will not only benefit you but also your children. Postpartum is the perfect time to take control of your health!