WHEN Jessica Yolland was pregnant with her son, Blake, she would check his heartbeat at home with a Doppler three times a day.
“I was working full-time and working at a desk, so there would be hours where I wouldn’t feel him,” she said.
“I’d have to poke him so he’d move.”
She begged doctors to deliver him at 27 weeks gestation, with every extra week making her more anxious.
Her anxiety was understandable.
Just nine months earlier, her daughter, Hailey, was stillborn, weighing 386g at 23 weeks, as a result of pre-eclampsia.
Now Ms Yolland, whose now two-year-old son hung on for 29 weeks before he was born, is urging other women to be aware of the symptoms of the most common serious disorder of pregnancy and seek help early.
At first, she put her puffy legs down to the side effects of pregnancy.
She was unaware her daughter was slowly being starved of nutrients because of a lack of blood flow to the placenta, while her own blood pressure rocketed dangerously high.
Just one week after she was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia, her daughter died.
“Look out for any puffiness at all,” she said.
“Look at your hands, feet and eyes, and if you do feel something is wrong, go to the hospital. Don’t delay like we kind of did.”
Pre-eclampsia occurs in 5-8 per cent of pregnancies and kills about 200 Australian babies each year.
The only cure is delivery of the baby and placenta.
Ms Yolland’s plea comes as Adelaide researchers have trialled a world-first screening test to predict which women are at risk of complications during pregnancy, including pre-eclampsia.
Director of Perinatal Medicine at the Royal Women’s Hospital, Professor Shaun Brennecke, said the condition was more common in first pregnancies and it was important women attended all their scheduled antenatal appointments so blood pressure could be monitored.
“Every woman should be considered at risk in her first pregnancy, although the risk is greater for those with a strong family history of the condition,” Prof Brennecke said.