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Pregnancy Bliss | Reproductive Health Hub

Leg and feet edema is quite common in pregnancy. The majority of women will have some degree of this, mostly mild. Its development does not signal pre-eclampsia.

PIH Complications Oedema Treatment Raised BP Eclampsia

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Should the expectant mother read anything into oedema (or swelling) of limbs?

Not much. 80% of pregnant women have some degree of swelling of limbs, mostly the feet, ankles and fingers (rings are tight!). Some will have gross oedema without any hint of raised blood pressure.

The oedema is largely a function of the normal physiological changes happening during pregnancy.

However, patients with preEdema in pregnancy-eclampsia have an increased tendency to develop pronounced oedema which may also be more generalised, affecting such unusual areas as the face causing puffiness.

The bottom line, however, is that the presence of oedema does not diagnose pre-eclampsia, and, more significantly, its absence does not rule out the condition or lessen its severity.

What will ultimately be done?

The aim is to ensure delivery of a healthy baby without putting the mother at risk.

If the condition is getting worse in spite of all the measures, immediate delivery is the only option. This is to prevent eclampsia, which could potentially seriously harm both the mother and the baby. It could even kill them.

If the mother is very far from term, the method of delivery is likely to be a caesarean section, as induction of labour is unlikely to be successful  at least, not quickly enough. If she is nearer to term, let's say thirty-five weeks of gestation or more, induction of labour is a viable alternative. The mother's condition will be closely monitored all the time and, if it is seen to be worsening, the induction process may be halted and delivery achieved by caesarean section.

The decision on how to proceed will depend on a combination of factors including the severity of the condition, whether the mother can be induced, fetal condition (which may be compromised), and the mother's own wishes.

Each individual case is unique and there are no fixed rules.

Overall, what are the potential complications of pre­-eclampsia?

Apart from affecting the growing fetus, the disease affects various organs in the mother's body. page