Guest Post by
I became an advocate for raising awareness about preeclampsia after a terrifying experience with my first pregnancy. In gratitude for the lives of myself and my healthy twelve-year-old daughter, Marissa, I am coordinating the second Annual Cranford, NJ Promise Walk for Preeclampsia™ being held on Saturday, May 19th. All proceeds benefit the Preeclampsia Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to reducing maternal and infant illness and death due to preeclampsia.
Like many women, I had never heard of preeclampsia until being diagnosed at only 34 weeks into my pregnancy. In the final weeks of my pregnancy, my face, hands, and feet swelled tremendously, my blood pressure was very high and there was protein in my urine. Alone, some of these conditions are not uncommon for pregnant women. Together, they can be deadly.
I had severe preeclampsia that went undiagnosed which is, unfortunately, not uncommon. Seeking more information about my traumatic pregnancy experience, I turned to the Preeclampsia Foundation website as a source of information and to receive support.
Preeclampsia affects the mother and unborn baby.
Preeclampsia, sometimes referred to by its older name, toxemia, is a life-threatening disorder of pregnancy and the post partum period that affects both the mother and the unborn baby.
One in twelve pregnant women in the United States will be diagnosed with preeclampsia; that’s nearly 300,000 women each year. Worldwide, by conservative estimates nearly 76,000 mothers and half a million babies die each year because of preeclampsia.
“Preeclampsia is typically diagnosed in the last trimester of pregnancy but can occur as early as 20 weeks,” said Tom Easterling, M.D., University of Washington School of Medicine. “It is characterized by elevated blood pressure and protein in the urine.”
“Symptoms such as headaches, excessive swelling, and stomach pain, all signs of preeclampsia, can often be dismissed by mothers-to-be as normal discomforts of pregnancy,” said Easterling. “Since the disease can accelerate quickly, pregnant women should contact their medical provider immediately if they have any concerning symptoms,” said Easterling.
A Puzzling Problem
No one knows what causes preeclampsia and there are no definite ways to prevent it and as of now there is no treatment. In the United States, the rates of preeclampsia, maternal deaths and premature births are all rising.
For that reason, May has been designated as Preeclampsia Awareness Month and is recognized throughout the country with The Promise Walk for Preeclampsia™ in an effort to raise public awareness. I am extremely grateful that my family and I were fortunate in our outcomes, but I also know that may others don’t have the knowledge they need to recognize the warning signs and seek help before it’s too late. I have learned through the years how lucky I am to be here to talk about my experience.
My family and I will be participating in the Promise Walk for Preeclampsia to help raise awareness for other women and to support families whose lives have been or will be touched by preeclampsia and other hypertensive disorders of pregnancy.
Join us as we kick off the festivities and share the Steiner’s inspiring story at the 2012 Promise Walk for Preeclampsia, on May 19, at Nomahegan Park in Cranford, New Jersey. For more information, or to register to walk/donate please visit: http://www.promisewalk.org/cranford.
Jersey Family Fun readers, who participate in the 2012 Promise Walk for Preeclampsia, on May 19, at Nomahegan Park in Cranford, NJ, will be eligible for special prizes from Jersey Family Fun.