Preeclampsia Awareness Month

Kristin Gunner


a pregnant woman is talking to her doctor
a pregnant woman is talking to her doctor

As a doula, one of my biggest goals is to empower expecting mothers with knowledge and support throughout their pregnancy journey. May marks an important month in our calendar: Preeclampsia Awareness Month. This is a time for us to come together to raise awareness about this serious condition that affects pregnant individuals worldwide.

What is preeclampsia?

Preeclampsia is a potentially life-threatening pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure and, often, but not always, the presence of protein in the urine (proteinuria). It can occur any time during pregnancy, delivery, and up to six weeks postpartum. This condition poses significant risks to both the mother and the baby, including organ damage, preterm birth, and, in severe cases, maternal and fetal mortality.

Signs and Symptoms

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of preeclampsia is so important for early detection and management.

Some symptoms to watch out for:

  • High blood pressure

  • Protein in your urine

  • Swelling in your hands and face

  • Headaches that just won't go away

  • Changes in vision (seeing spots, flashing lights, or loss of eyesight)

  • Gaining more than five pounds in a week

  • Nausea and/or vomiting after mid-pregnancy (this is not morning sickness)

  • Upper right belly pain

  • Difficulty breathing

However, it's essential to note that having symptoms doesn't necessarily mean you have preeclampsia. On the other hand, some people with preeclampsia may not exhibit any symptoms. This is why it's so important to talk to your provider.

What causes preeclampsia?

The exact cause of preeclampsia is unknown, but factors such as genetics, immune system dysfunction, and insufficient blood flow to the uterus may contribute. Certain risk factors, including a history of preeclampsia, chronic hypertension, obesity, diabetes, and being pregnant with multiples, can increase the likelihood of experiencing this condition. Professionals also agree that the placenta plays a role in preeclampsia.

Don't hesitate to talk to your provider about your risks and how to decrease the risk.

As a doula, part of my role is to provide emotional support, advocacy, and education to clients. During prenatal visits, we discuss the signs and symptoms of preeclampsia. I encourage open communication between my clients and their healthcare providers and help them navigate the complexities of pregnancy, including potential complications like preeclampsia.

Supporting moms through their pregnancy journey goes beyond just physical care; it's about empowering them with the information and resources they need to make informed decisions about their health and the health of their baby. By raising awareness about preeclampsia, we can help ensure that expecting mothers receive timely screenings, monitoring, and appropriate medical interventions when necessary.

This Preeclampsia Awareness Month, let's come together to support moms, educate our communities, and advocate for better maternal healthcare. If you have any questions or concerns about preeclampsia or your pregnancy in general, please don't hesitate to reach out. Together, we can prevail over preeclampsia.

Please check out The Preeclampsia Foundation for more information.


logo of a sun with the words new day doula support
logo of a sun with the words new day doula support