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Monitoring your blood pressure is essential during pregnancy

Women have given birth for thousands of years. Even so, you more than likely feel safer having someone monitor you and your baby during your pregnancy. You should have the freedom to worry about the theme of your baby's nursery and the kind of stroller you should purchase — not your health.

After all, that's why you have an obstetrician, right? For instance, your doctor should watch your blood pressure closely during your pregnancy to be on the lookout for the possibility that you could suffer from gestational hypertension, preeclampsia, eclampsia or HELLP syndrome. The failure to monitor for these conditions could result in serious or life-threatening complications.

Blood pressure related issues unique to pregnancy

The fact of the matter is that the changes your body goes through during pregnancy would more than likely kill you if you weren't pregnant. Even so, your body must maintain a delicate balance in order to keep you and the baby safe. For example, a high blood pressure issue could develop into one of the following pregnancy conditions:

  • Gestational hypertension: The primary characteristic of this condition involves elevated blood pressure after week 20 with the absence of protein in your urine.
  • Preeclampsia: If you do have protein in your urine and high blood pressure at and after 20 weeks, this may be your diagnosis. Calling your preeclampsia "mild" is misleading since you could still suffer from dysfunctions in your kidneys or liver, experience vision problems and have difficulty breathing. Severe preeclampsia comes with higher blood pressure readings, damage to the kidneys or liver and abdominal pain not otherwise explained, along with breathing and vision difficulties.
  • Eclampsia: This condition includes all of the symptoms of preeclampsia with the addition of seizures.
  • HELLP syndrome: This occurs when hemoglobin leaches into your blood plasma due to burst red blood vessels.

This list identifies high blood pressure-related conditions from the least serious to the most life-threatening. Women who received a diagnosis of hypertension prior to pregnancy may be especially at risk, but it is not a necessary precursor for these conditions to develop.

Without the proper testing and monitoring, your life (and the life of your unborn baby) could quickly become at risk. One instance of high blood pressure at 20 weeks may not seem like a big deal, but it may turn into one. If your doctor does not insist on rechecking your blood pressure before you leave the office, however, you could end up with a serious health condition that puts both you and your unborn child in jeopardy.

What to do if you or your baby suffered harm

If you believe that your obstetrician should have diagnosed you with any of the above conditions earlier, but failed to do so and you or your baby suffered harm because of it, you may benefit from understanding your legal rights and options. The complexities of medical malpractice claims here in Ohio make it inadvisable to move forward on your own. Fortunately, the appropriate advice and assistance is available if you find yourself in need of it.

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