17:53 PM

New Mom Overcomes Preeclampsia

With LVHN care, Kelly Chando successfully navigates an emergency C-section then preeclampsia following birth

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Patrick E. McIntyre, MD
Obstetrics and gynecology

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Kelly Chando was both excited and slightly anxious when she arrived at Lehigh Valley Hospital (LVH)–Muhlenberg in December 2017 to have her first baby. What should have been a routine delivery following a normal pregnancy escalated into an emergency cesarean section that kept her and her newborn son, Cael Stephen, in the hospital for five days. However, Cael’s delivery was not the end of health concerns that took the Palmer Township mom off guard.

‘Debilitating’ headaches

Looking back, Chando says the first sign that something wasn’t right occurred before she and her son left the hospital. “My husband, Mark, said, ‘Don’t take this the wrong way, but you don’t look like you’ve lost even a pound,’” she says. Once she got home, the former half-marathoner had trouble catching her breath and suffered headaches.

“I kept telling myself that I wasn’t getting enough sleep, but the headaches were becoming debilitating,” Chando recalls. “Luckily, I had a call scheduled with a nurse on my fourth day home. I described what was going on physically. She told me to go see my obstetrician immediately. Dr. [Patrick] McIntyre took one look at me and said we needed to get to the hospital.”

Preeclampsia = dangerously high blood pressure

Chando, who had no signs of preeclampsia during her pregnancy, was now exhibiting a classic symptom: high blood pressure. When she arrived at McIntyre’s office, her blood pressure was 165/100 mm HG – and it kept increasing. (Blood pressure of 120/80 mm HG or less is considered normal.) “I felt like I was either going to have a heart attack or pass out,” she says.

Preeclampsia primarily develops after 20 weeks of pregnancy and up to six weeks postpartum. No one knows for certain what causes it. Signs include high blood pressure in women who have not previously experienced it before, high levels of protein in urine, swelling, sudden weight gain, headaches and changes in vision.

“Preeclampsia is a serious condition for the mother and her unborn baby,” says McIntyre, a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist with LVPG Obstetrics and Gynecology. “We screen for preeclampsia at every prenatal and postpartum visit. If a pregnant or postpartum woman develops headaches, swelling or difficulty breathing, she should contact her doctor immediately.”