HELLP Syndrome usually appears in the third trimester and it is most common in first time pregnancies. It may also recur in any following pregnancies if you did develop this during your first pregnancy.
A simple explanation of the syndrome is that it is a very severe form of pre-eclampsia, and about 15% of women with pre-eclampsia will go on to develop HELLP.
What are the symptoms of HELLP?
HELLP syndrome is characterized by liver compromise during or after a pregnancy, complicated by hypertension and/or pre-eclampsia. The letters stand for:
Hemolytic anemia (when red blood cells break down)
Elevated Liver transminases (sign of liver problems)
Low Platelet count (causing problems in blood clotting)
How can I tell if I have HELLP syndrome?
- You may feel tired and out of energy
- You may have pain in the upper right part of your stomach
- You may have bad headaches and nausea or vomiting
- You may have swelling, especially in your face and hands
- You may notice bleeding from your gums or other places
- Extremely high blood pressure
The trouble is that because most women in the third trimester may show many of these signs anyway, it can be difficult to diagnose these as a definite signs of HELLP Syndrome and so your doctor may order blood tests to confirm the diagnosis.
The degree to which you can have this complication may vary from mild to life threatening to both mother and baby.
Can HELLP be prevented?
Unfortunately there is no real way to prevent HELLP and this is simply because we don’t know what causes it.
How is HELLP syndrome treated?
The main treatment for HELLP is to deliver your baby and because this may need to be done before your due date, this means that you may need to either be induced or have your baby delivered through cesarean section. In most cases, your health may start to return to normal after a few days of baby being delivered.
If you aren’t too sick, your doctor may wait a few days before delivering your baby and you may be directed to take a course of steroids which helps both you and your baby.