Listen To Your Body

Post On Friday, September 07, 2018 By Kelly Chando

Listen To Your Body

In December 2017, I gave birth to my first child. What should have been a routine delivery, quickly escalated into an emergency C-section and visit to NICU for my son. 
Once I was home, I knew something wasn’t right. I had increasingly blurred vision and pain in my stomach, extreme shortness of breath, debilitating headaches and was still significantly swollen. It wasn’t until I attempted to get up from a chair and nearly passed out, when my husband raced me to the doctor’s office. My blood pressure was 165/100 when I arrived and no sooner was I taken to the emergency room. 

I was readmitted with a severe case of postpartum preeclampsia, battling the effects of hypertension, potential seizures and organ failure, and a perceived blood clot in my brain. After having to be hooked up to a magnesium drip and undergo countless procedures to clear me of any neurological ailments, I was finally sent home only for my blood pressure to spike again. Thankfully, my numbers would eventually level out with the help of blood pressure medicine over the course of several more weeks. 

bw-17-LightroomEdition-7346Although both were very scary situations, Cael and I were lucky enough to receive the timely and appropriate care necessary to be here today. Affecting just 5-8% of pregnant women each year in the U.S., many are unaware of the signs, symptoms and severity of preeclampsia and other hypertensive disorders. I was one of them. 

Any woman can develop preeclampsia after her baby is born whether she experienced high blood pressure during her pregnancy or not. Some women experience it during pregnancy, while others like myself, experience preeclampsia for the first time after delivery. 

However postpartum preeclampsia presents itself, research shows that the first seven days after delivery are the most critical for moms to stay alert for symptoms. Every mom should be vigilant about measuring her blood pressure the first week after delivering, and contact her healthcare provider if it’s high. My episode occurred four days postpartum and I’m not sure what the outcome would have been had I not scheduled a call with a nurse that day. I’m lucky that my doctor was able to squeeze me in for an appointment that very afternoon. 

To-date, there is no distinct cause for preeclampsia. So I encourage those that have been affected by the disorder to get involved, join the conversation and be a part of the solution. 

1. Start by sharing your own story. It could save a life. 

2. Participate in the Preeclampsia Registry through the Preeclampsia Foundation, The goal of the registry is to accelerate the discovery of the causes and options for prevention, diagnosis and treatment. 

3. Increase awareness through local events. This year my family and friends raised $1,000 for research through the Lehigh Valley Promise Walk for Preeclampsia. Representatives in attendance declared May as Preeclampsia Awareness Month. While I stood there hearing stories of strength and heartache, I was overwhelmed with emotion. To think that I could have lost my son or left him without a mother was gut wrenching and a tragic situation that no woman or family should have to endure.

Coincidentally enough the walk was held just 1 day prior to my 32nd birthday. I couldn’t have been more grateful to be standing there, celebrating with my handsome, happy little boy in tow. I’ll forever be indebted to the incredible medical team that surrounded us during this entire experience. 

Life will sometimes put you through situations beyond your comprehension but there is always a reason. So while the signs and severity of preeclampsia is not yet well-known among the general population, my mission is to change that. Now that you are aware, you can take charge of your own health and help others make smarter choices for themselves and their families - before, during and after pregnancy. Listen to your body. Ask questions. Be your own advocate.

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