Pre-Eclampsia: What Women Need to Know


“Pre-Eclampsia: What Women Need to Know” is an informative article that provides essential information for pregnant women regarding pre-eclampsia and other pregnancy complications. The article emphasizes the importance of being well-informed about what is normal and abnormal during pregnancy. It suggests that choosing a primary care provider that one trusts and establishing continuity of care throughout the pregnancy is crucial for a healthier pregnancy. Additionally, the article introduces Dr. Alison Cowan, an OBGYN and the Head of Medical Affairs for Mirvie, a maternal health company. Dr. Cowan shares her expertise on pre-eclampsia, self-advocacy during pregnancy, and equity in pregnancy health, offering valuable insights and tips for expecting parents.

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Who is Dr. Alison Cowan?

Dr. Alison Cowan is an OBGYN, a mom of three, and the Head of Medical Affairs for Mirvie. She attended Emory University Medical School and received a master’s in clinical research before completing her OBGYN residency at Northwestern University. With over a decade of bedside experience, Dr. Cowan has delivered hundreds of babies. She is now dedicated to improving pregnancy health and advocating for change and equity in pregnancy healthcare. Dr. Cowan is passionate about sharing tips for self-advocacy and helping women have the healthiest pregnancies possible.

What Did We Discuss?

In this episode, we had a conversation with Dr. Alison Cowan about common pregnancy complications, such as pre-eclampsia, self-advocacy during pregnancy, and equity in pregnancy health. We covered various topics, including steps women can take for a healthy pregnancy, the importance of self-advocacy, tips for self-advocacy during pregnancy, common pregnancy complications and their symptoms, the science behind these complications, the prevalence and causes of pre-eclampsia, and the concept of equity in pregnancy health. Dr. Cowan’s expertise and passion for women’s health were evident throughout the discussion, and we hope to provide helpful information to promote healthier pregnancies.

Common Pregnancy Complications

Pregnancy is a miraculous time, but it can also come with discomfort and potential complications. While people often hear about morning sickness and swollen feet, it is essential for pregnant women to be aware of both normal and abnormal signs during pregnancy. Understanding what to look for regarding concerns can ensure timely medical intervention and promote healthier outcomes. Common pregnancy complications may include pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, placenta previa, preterm labor, and miscarriage. Each of these complications has its own set of symptoms and potential risks, underscoring the importance of regular prenatal care and communication with healthcare providers.

Pre-Eclampsia: Causes and Prevention

Pre-eclampsia is a serious pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure and damage to organs such as the liver and kidneys. It typically occurs after the 20th week of pregnancy and can lead to complications for both the mother and the baby if left untreated. While the exact cause of pre-eclampsia is unknown, it is believed to involve problems with the placenta and blood vessels. Certain risk factors, such as a history of pre-eclampsia, obesity, and certain medical conditions, may increase the likelihood of developing the condition.

Prevention of pre-eclampsia is challenging due to its complex nature, but there are some measures that pregnant individuals can take to potentially reduce their risk. Adequate prenatal care, including regular blood pressure monitoring, is crucial. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, such as eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and managing weight gain, may also play a role in reducing the risk of pre-eclampsia. It is important for pregnant individuals to work closely with their healthcare providers to determine the best course of action based on their individual circumstances.

Symptoms of Pre-Eclampsia

Recognizing the symptoms of pre-eclampsia is vital for early detection and intervention. Common symptoms may include high blood pressure, swelling in the hands and face, headaches, changes in vision, upper abdominal pain, and decreased urine output. It is essential for pregnant individuals to be aware of these symptoms and promptly report them to their healthcare providers. Regular prenatal check-ups and blood pressure monitoring can help identify pre-eclampsia before severe complications occur. If pre-eclampsia is suspected, further testing and monitoring may be necessary to ensure the well-being of both the mother and the baby.

Self-Advocacy during Pregnancy

Self-advocacy is an integral part of a woman’s pregnancy journey. It involves actively participating in decision-making regarding prenatal care, communicating concerns to healthcare providers, and ensuring one’s needs and preferences are respected. Being an advocate for oneself during pregnancy promotes personalized care and helps address potential issues proactively. Tips for self-advocacy during pregnancy include choosing a primary care provider with whom one feels comfortable and establishing open lines of communication. It is essential to ask questions, voice concerns, and actively engage in discussions about prenatal care, test results, and treatment options.

Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy

To have a healthy pregnancy, there are several steps pregnant individuals can take. First and foremost, regular prenatal care is crucial. This includes attending all recommended prenatal appointments, undergoing necessary tests and screenings, and following the healthcare provider’s advice. Maintaining a balanced diet that includes essential nutrients is important for both the mother and the baby’s health. Staying physically active, within the limits recommended by the healthcare provider, can also contribute to a healthier pregnancy. It is essential to avoid harmful substances, such as alcohol and tobacco, and to manage stress levels. Finally, having a strong support system and accessing reliable resources can provide valuable information and emotional support throughout pregnancy.

Equity in Pregnancy Health

Equity in pregnancy health refers to ensuring that all individuals have equitable access to quality prenatal care, regardless of their race, socioeconomic status, or other factors. It also involves promoting fair treatment and eliminating disparities in healthcare outcomes among pregnant individuals. Achieving equity requires addressing systemic barriers, such as limited access to healthcare facilities, implicit biases, and social determinants of health, that disproportionately impact marginalized communities. Healthcare providers, policymakers, and society at large have a role to play in advocating for equitable pregnancy health by implementing policies, programs, and initiatives that promote equal access, culturally competent care, and improved health outcomes for all pregnant individuals.

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Resources from Dr. Alison Cowan

Dr. Alison Cowan provides various resources to support individuals in their pregnancy journey. These resources include her website,, which offers information and insights on pregnancy health, self-advocacy, and common complications. Additionally, Dr. Cowan can be found on Instagram (@mirviedx) and Facebook (@MirvieDx), where she shares educational content, tips, and updates related to pregnancy health. She also has a LinkedIn profile (Dr. Alison Cowan) that interested individuals can refer to for more information.

Episode References

During the episode, several references were mentioned that can provide further information on pregnancy health and self-advocacy. These references include, a reliable source for obstetric and gynecologic information, and a comprehensive care plan to prevent pre-eclampsia available through Mirvie. Dr. Cowan also highlighted the importance of patient-provider communication and mentioned the CUS words, which stand for Concerned, Uncomfortable, and Safety. Patients are encouraged to use these words when discussing their concerns with healthcare providers.

In conclusion, understanding common pregnancy complications, such as pre-eclampsia, and being able to advocate for oneself during pregnancy are essential for promoting healthier outcomes. Dr. Alison Cowan, with her expertise and commitment to pregnancy health, provided valuable insights and resources during the episode. By prioritizing regular prenatal care, self-advocacy, and equity in pregnancy health, individuals can work towards having healthier pregnancies and positive birth experiences.

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