Preeclampsia Survivor Dr. Hill Reflects on Last Night’s Episode of Downton Abbey
I am a huge fan of Downton Abbey on PBS. The characters, the story lines, the costumes – all are top notch. One of my favorite parts of the show is the depiction of medical care in the early 1900s. They have illustrated the realities of the Spanish flu epidemic, the treatment and rehabilitation of soldiers in World War I, and now devastating pregnancy complications. In the last episode, one of the beloved daughters dies after her preeclampsia goes undiagnosed and she develops a full-blown eclamptic seizure.
Preeclampsia is still a leading cause of maternal death around the world. I just diagnosed a patient with it this morning. She came for her routine OB visit, now 3 days past her due date. Her blood pressure was 168/105 (normal is less than 140/90) and she had protein in her urine. She said she felt completely fine and was shocked when I told her she had to go to the hospital immediately, and likely would be delivering her baby today. That’s the thing about this disease – it comes on without warning, in completely healthy women, and often has no symptoms.
Ten years ago, 29 weeks pregnant with my son, I found myself with the same fate. Out of nowhere, my blood pressure skyrocketed to 180/100. I was taken directly from my office to the hospital, still in disbelief that this was happening to me. My son was born prematurely and I battled the high blood pressure for nearly a month after delivery. Thankfully, he was fine, and I recovered as well.
I often think of my situation – and how lucky I was that my disease was caught early, and that I had access to great medical care. Had I been born in a different time or even in a different country today, I know I would not have survived. It scares me to think of how dangerous pregnancy can be. Even women living here in the US with great doctors can be victims of this tragedy.
I hope all pregnant women will take the time to learn about this disease, identify any risk factors they may have, and ask their doctors questions. By doing this, we honor the memory of the moms and babies who weren’t as lucky.
About the Author - Mommy Docs
We are Dr. Yvonne Bohn, Dr. Allison Hill, and Dr. Alane Park, and we recently celebrated the 10th anniversary of our OB/GYN practice in Los Angeles. The three of us have personally welcomed more than 15,000 babies into the world. We are the featured doctors in the popular TV series “Deliver Me” (now on Discovery Fit and Health, formerly on OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network) and we have a new series "Mommy Docs" in development for public television. We know the pregnancy and birthing process intimately…from both sides. We’re doctors — but we’re also moms who have been through all the stages of pregnancy with six kids of our own. In addition to obstetric care we also provide guidance and treatment for various women’s health concerns including: Contraceptive Health, Breast Cancer Screening, STD Screening, Menopausal Care, Infertility and Preventive health. Have a question? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org