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Planning your next pregnancy after preeclampsia or HELLP syndrome

Last Updated on Sunday, August 18, 2019

researching momPreeclampsia and HELLP syndrome during pregnancy and postpartum can be traumatic. You may have experienced fear, grief, NICU time, or complications with your own health. But you also may have experienced the joy of becoming a parent and still have a strong desire to have a child or more children.

When thinking about another pregnancy, your two biggest questions probably are: why did this happen to me and will it happen again? You can read about some theories and recent research on the causes of preeclampsia here. Ultimately, however, the true cause of preeclampsia remains unknown. Research suggests the risk of having preeclampsia again is approximately 20%. However, experts cite a range from 5-80% depending on when you had it in a prior pregnancy, how severe it was, and additional risk factors you may have.  

You can discuss your medical history and previous pregnancies with your healthcare providers to understand your own risk factors, which include history of chronic hypertension, diabetes, or kidney disease, obesity, and over 40 or under 18 years of age. Also, consider consulting with a perinatologist, a specialized obstetrician with expertise in managing maternal and fetal health during high risk pregnancies. Your physicians may recommend testing for underlying health disorders (e.g. lupus or clotting disorders) that increase the risk of preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome, counsel you about risk factors, and suggest a treatment plan for subsequent pregnancies.

In addition to addressing the medical risks, make sure you have a strong community to support you emotionally and spiritually. Share your plans and concerns with supportive friends, family, or clergy. If necessary, talk with a therapist or grief counsellor. 

Women do go on to have healthy pregnancies and babies after experiencing preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome. However, if you decide that pursuing another pregnancy is not the right choice for you, consider alternative ways to have children, such as adoption.

 

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