Hey Fam!

Let’s chat about Preeclampsia, what it is, who’s at risk, treatment options, and how your doula can help support you after a diagnosis. Preeclampsia is a syndrome that is characterized by an increase in a pregnant person’s blood pressure and increased proteins in the urine. It can affect their brain, kidney, and liver functioning, and experts believe that complications with the placenta is one of the factors that causes preeclampsia. Problems with how well blood circulates in the placenta may lead to the irregular regulation of blood pressure in the pregnant person.

Studies show that Black and Indigenous women are more likely to develop preeclampsia during and after pregnancy. It’s also often under diagnosed and less monitored in Black and Indigenous people which can lead to serious birth complications. Some researchers claim obesity as a risk factor, and with how fatphobic our health care system is, I’m giving that a big ol’ side eye. Folks are always quick to put fat people in this unhealthy box and as we know, there are many healthy fat people. *Sashays off soapbox*. Other risk factors include:

  • Type 1 or type 2 diabetes before pregnancy
  • Gestational Diabetes
  • Kidney disease
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Use of IVF
  • Pregnant with multiple babies (such as twins or triplets).

Depending on the severity of preeclampsia, some providers may recommend bed rest, BP meds, administering steroids to the fetus to speed up lung growth, and induction/c-section. Delivering the baby can help resolve preeclampsia but symptoms can continue even after birth, and some of them can be serious. What is often not discussed is the onset of Postpartum Preeclampsia which can affect birthing people immediately after birth or even days after baby is born. Some signs to look out for include severe headaches, blurry/distorted vision, edema/swelling in the extremities, and shortness of breath.

After a preeclampsia diagnosis, I typically check in with my clients on a more frequent basis. I recommend using a reliable blood pressure machine at home to monitor BP, and get a few pairs of compression socks to help with feet/leg swelling. At any sign of increased symptoms, I ask that clients reach out to their provider immediately and keep me posted. Because some of the recommended birth interventions can be invasive, we talk about advocacy, risks, and benefits. We have extensive conversations about birthing preferences and plan out what various emergency scenarios would look like for them. Even with a preeclampsia diagnosis, you can stay informed, have a say in your birthing experience, and be empowered in monitoring your prenatal and postpartum health.


With Gratitude,

Luna Doula Jo 

For more information and research about preeclampsia, please see the following sources.