World-famous performer Beyoncé recently gave an interview to Vogue magazine where, among other subjects, she spoke about her pregnancy. She described having preeclampsia while pregnant with her twins, Rumi and Sir, her emergency C-section and the effect the entire experience had on her physically and emotionally.
This is why doctors like Dr. Tia Jackson-Bey, an OB/GYN, are glad that Beyoncé shared her story. By doing so, the pop star brings greater awareness to pregnancy complications like preeclampsia, and greater awareness can save lives, she says.
“The prevalence of preeclampsia has risen over the past 20 years, but U.S. hospital systems are still struggling to meet the national guidelines for the treatment and management of preeclampsia and other causes of significant maternal mortality and morbidity,” she writes.
Understanding preeclampsia and its signs
Once known as toxemia, preeclampsia is a pregnancy complication that can result in high blood pressure, kidney damage and other serious health problems. This condition develops during the last trimester, but will, on occasion, develop earlier. Dr. Jackson-Bey estimates that between two and eight percent of all pregnancies globally are affected by preeclampsia.
As of now, there’s no known cure for preeclampsia, but the condition does typically resolve itself upon delivery of the baby. However, preeclampsia can cause premature birth or serious injury to the mother, which can put the baby’s life in danger.
If you or a loved one experience any of the following symptoms during your pregnancy, talk to your doctor right away. These can be some of the warning signs of preeclampsia:
- Persistent headache
- Visual problems or disturbances
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Swelling in legs, hands, or face
- Rapid weight gain
- Pain in right shoulder or right side
- Difficulty breathing
Make sure your doctor is also aware of any risks you may have for developing preeclampsia, including:
- Pregnant with multiples
- Family history of preeclampsia
- Age 35 or over
- First pregnancy (or over 10 years since your last pregnancy)
- Used IVF to become pregnant
- Medically obese
Protecting mothers from preventable injuries
Tragically, hundreds of women die every year and thousands more are injured as a result of complications from childbirth. We recently wrote about a USA TODAY report that named the United States as the most dangerous country in the developed world to give birth. And, as USA TODAY reported, many of these deaths are preventable – including those from preeclampsia and hypertension. Injuries and deaths from preventable pregnancy complications can lead to a medical malpractice case.
USA TODAY combed through hundreds of pages of data, and concluded that many hospitals around the country are failing new mothers. Women often aren’t getting prompt treatment for high blood pressure postpartum, often leading to strokes. Some new mothers have nearly bled to death because their blood loss wasn’t monitored correctly. These types of injuries and deaths could be reduced with nationwide, uniform safety guidelines. However, as of now, there are none in place.
Dr. Steven Clark, childbirth safety expert and a professor at Baylor College of Medicine, says, “Our medicine is run by cowboys today, where everyone is riding the range doing whatever they’re wanting to do. … It’s a failure at all levels, at national organization levels and at the local hospital leadership levels as well.”
Pregnancy complications, maternal injuries and birth injuries can result in tragedy for you and your family. When these injuries were preventable, the pain can be even worse. However, we are here to help.
At Harris Lowry Manton LLP, we represent families who experienced medical negligence during and after childbirth. Our attorneys are compassionate and skilled, and will hold guilty healthcare providers responsible. Call us today at 404-998-8847 at our Atlanta office, or in Savannah at 912-417-3774, or fill out our contact form.