HELLP Questions

Have you suffered from HELLP syndrome or had a pregnancy complicated by an underlying disorder? Discuss your concerns here

HELLP Questions

Postby rgrwife » Mon Aug 02, 2010 02:47 pm

I know what the definition of HELLP is, but what exactly does it mean...what does it do (or what would it do if untreated) to your body? I know the low blood platelets have something to do with clotting? I found out after my c-section that I had HELLP. So I don't know if the doctor found out before, during or after the c-section. She did say that I was on the severe end of the spectrum and that I was lucky that they delivered me that day. So if it had been a few days later, what would have happened? Would my blood have stopped clotting? Would they not have been able to do a c-section?

Also, I was wondering if there was anything I should ask at my six week appointment. I had tests for underlying disorders before I got pregnant (I don't have any). Should I expect or request to do any labs? Or will I be pretty much back to normal? I'm on bp meds now, I was on them for six weeks after the birth of my first son. I expect my blood pressure to sort of taper off and return to normal like it did with my first.

Any insight is greatly appreciated!
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Re : HELLP Questions

Postby ozierja » Mon Aug 02, 2010 04:21 pm

Hi Laura,

It means that the maternal-fetal struggle is affecting the liver and causing it not to function well. It can show up and go to severe (class I) very quickly which is measured by how low your platelets drop. It is all relative, but basically the lower your platelets, the less likely you are to clot. Sometimes it is too stressful on your body to go through induction, or maybe there is no time due to high BP, etc., and a C-section is needed regardless of how low your platelets are...it is a true balancing act for your doctor to decide what is best in the time frame.
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Re : HELLP Questions

Postby jenmatt1 » Mon Aug 02, 2010 04:25 pm

I also had class I severe HELLP and I have no underlying disorders at all. I had my blood platelet counts and a liver function test done at my 6 week checkup to make sure everything was going back to normal. For me, my blood pressure skyrocketed, my blood platelet count dropped, my kidneys and liver stopped functioning and I know they put me on mag because they were afraid I was going to have seizures. My baby's heart started racing in utero and I quickly became an emergency situation. I could not have an epidural because my blood platelet count was so low. After delivery I had to have 2 blood platelet transfusions. I never had to go on bp meds. I count myself as extemely lucky that I went to doctor that day and told her I just didn't feel good. My daughter was born healthy- just in NIC for a few days for monitoring. But I felt pretty badly beaten up. Not to scare you, but during that day at the hospital, I was told me & my baby were very sick and they needed to deliver or we would both be in trouble.

Since then I have recovered- although honestly it took me about a year to feel like myself again.
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Re : HELLP Questions

Postby jenprzygoda » Mon Aug 02, 2010 09:45 pm

I had class I HELLP at 36 weeks with my son. I had an emergency c-section under general anesthesia and 2 units of platelets the next day. As for test - Liver enzymes, platelets, and hemoglobin were run in the hospital to see that they had stabilized before I was released. I also had these checked at my 6 week appointment and again after 7 or 8 months just to be sure everything was fine. I also felt that it took me a year before I started feeling like myself again. WHile I know many new moms are tired, I have an EXTREMELY easy baby and a supportive family and I was still tired all the time. Another HELLP survivor told me that she too just felt tired and less than herself for the first year after. I was lucky that the BP meds were only needed for those first 6 or 8 weeks.

As for the other questions, if your platelet count goes too low your blood will not clot. That is why I had to have general anesthesia - my doctors were concerned that I would bleed out the back at the epidural/spinal location while on the table for surgery. They also had blood available in the event that I lost too much blood and required a blood transfusion. I think that the concern is that if things get too bad there can be a situation where bleeding can not be stopped leading to further complications. HELLP just plain stinks! I hope this helps.
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Re : HELLP Questions

Postby jenmatt1 » Tue Aug 03, 2010 12:06 am

I think the fact that all of us say it took about a year to feel like ourselves again is very normal. Some family members thought I was going thru post partum - but that was not the case. I wanted to be around my daughter all the time- it was almost like I was so afraid that if I was away from her that something bad would happen. That is a lot different that post partum - it was almost like post traumatic stress disorder- and you will see some of the women use this terminology for how they feel.

It takes a huge toll on your body, your mind and it takes a while to start feeling better overall. You just have to give yourself some slack and time.
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Re : HELLP Questions

Postby rgrwife » Thu Aug 05, 2010 02:01 pm

How did you all feel after HELLP? I keep getting hot flashes and then chills all day long. I don't know if it's from my bp meds or what.
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Re : HELLP Questions

Postby tree » Thu Aug 05, 2010 04:08 pm

My experience was similar to what both Jennifers have described. I really started feeling good again in May/June of this year.
I remember the hot flashes and the chills too. I don't think they every gave me an answer on that. I was not on BP meds. It did go away relatively quickly. Please post an answer if you get one.
I hope your appointment goes well. I found out that I had retained placental fragments at my checkup, and I felt MUCH better after they came out. You might want to ask about that if you are still bleeding and feel really bad. Otherwise, bring a list of your symptoms and make sure they are all "normal". Be honest in the depression screen. I wasn't, and I managed without help, but I feel pretty stupid about it now.
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Re : HELLP Questions

Postby jenprzygoda » Thu Aug 05, 2010 08:25 pm

I would sweat and then get chills, then start sweating again. They told me that the sweating was part of my body getting rid of all the extra water from the swelling. I do know that in a "normal" pregnancy many women have "temperature" issues as their hormones readjust. I am wondering if this is magnified for some reason in women like us? Family and friends said that I was getting hot flashes and sweats a lot more than they or anyone they know did. I also second what Teresa had to say about the depression screen. I can say that I was honest with it, but the questions did not reflect the feeling I was having and my feelings really didn't come out until a few months after my son was born. The screening was too soon for me as I don't think my brain had even processed what had just happened to me when I went for my 6 week check. Be sure to ask about some of the signs of post partum depression in the event that it creeps up later on.
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Re : HELLP Questions

Postby jenmatt1 » Thu Aug 05, 2010 09:49 pm

I agree about the screening test- although I don't think the questions really applied to how I was feeling. But I do wish someone would have really listened to my feelings. It was like going through a near death experience where everything looked so different at the end. I just wanted to hug and kiss my daughter and be with her all the time.

My ob that delivered my daughter was great but we were in the middle of moving to another state and so my 6 week checkup was actually with another ob in the new state- when I told her I was not ready to go back to work and the way I felt that I needed to protect my daughter, she pretty much blew me off. Personally I only took off 8 weeks from work and that was not enough for me to recover and feel anywhat normal. This time I have planned to give myself more time to recuperate.
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Re : HELLP Questions

Postby brismom » Sat Aug 07, 2010 11:45 pm

I read in one post about the excessive sweating. I had the sweats for about 2 months post partum really bad. I was told it was the hormonal shift but honestly no one I knew ever had them that bad and that long. I began to wonder if that was something also related to my HELLP. I mean my clothes would be drenched every night. Strange...
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