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Are you at risk for HELLP Syndrome in your last trimester?

Like most people, you probably worried more about the first trimester of your pregnancy since that is when the risk of miscarriage is highest. Once you reach your second trimester, you may think that you are in the clear. However, other issues could come up later on in your pregnancy.

During your third trimester, you may run the risk of contracting HELLP Syndrome. The problem is that your doctor may not recognize that your symptoms could result from this syndrome, which may happen since medical experts do not even know what really causes HELLP Syndrome.

What puts you most at risk?

Other than suffering from preeclampsia, your risk of suffering from this condition rises if you meet any of the following criteria:

  • Caucasian
  • Over age 25
  • Previous diagnosis of HELLP Syndrome during pregnancy
  • More than two previous births

It's important that you let your doctor know if you exhibit any symptoms associated with this condition in your third trimester and you meet any of the above criteria.

So what are the symptoms?

This syndrome is more common among women with preeclampsia, but that isn't necessarily a precursor to this issue. You may experience the following symptoms in your third trimester:

  • Nausea and vomiting that gets worse
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches that become severe
  • Upper right tenderness or abdominal pain
  • Protein in your urine
  • Visual disturbances
  • Bleeding
  • High blood pressure
  • Swelling

As you can see, these symptoms can mimic any number of issues you could experience while pregnant. Your doctor would need to take additional steps in order to determine whether you suffer from HELLP Syndrome.

How would a doctor confirm it?

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, your doctor should test your liver function, check your platlet count and your red blood cells. This ordinarily occurs through a series of blood tests. If the tests show that you have HELLP Syndrome, and you are close enough to your due date, delivering your baby is the best treatment for this condition.

If you are not yet past week 34 of your pregnancy, your doctor may need to prescribe the following treatments if your baby's lungs are not yet sufficiently developed for delivery:

  • Corticosteroids
  • Bed rest
  • Blood transfusions
  • Magnesium sulfate
  • Blood pressure medication

Your doctor may also more closely monitor your unborn baby through sonograms, biophysical tests and non-stress tests. Fetal monitoring is crucial during this time and your baby's movement will also require observation. Failing to diagnose and treat this condition could result in harm to you and your unborn child.

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