Beyoncé Says Her 'Body Went Through More Than I Knew It Could' During 'Extremely Difficult Pregnancy'

  • In her new Netflix special, Homecoming, Beyoncé revealed even more details about her “difficult pregnancy.”
  • Beyoncé said she had preeclampsia while pregnant with twins Sir and Rumi, which led to an emergency C-section.
  • Preeclampsia is a sudden, potentially life-threatening increase in blood pressure in pregnant women.

Beyoncé’s new Netflix special, Homecoming, dropped last night, and in it, she revealed even more details about her “extremely difficult pregnancy” with twins Sir and Rumi.

“My body went through more than I knew it could,” she said, referencing her bout with preeclampsia, a sudden, potentially life-threatening increase in blood pressure in pregnant women.

Beyoncé first opened up about her preeclampsia (she actually referred to it as “toxemia”) in the September issue of Vogue. The condition, she says, left her swollen and on bed rest for more than a month. Beyoncé said that at the time of her labor in June 2017, she was up to 218 pounds.

“My health and my babies’ health were in danger, so I had an emergency C-section,” she told the magazine. “We spent many weeks in the NICU.” Beyoncé revealed even more details about her emergency C-section in Homecoming: “In the womb, one of my babies’ hearts paused a few times,” she said, which only added to the urgency of her surgery.

Beyoncé also said that her recovery after her C-section was also difficult. “I had to rebuild my body from cut muscles,” she said, talking about how difficult it was to get back to dancing and performing shortly after having twins. “In the beginning, there were so many muscle spasms and just internally, my body was not connected,” she said, adding that there were days when she thought she’d “never be the same physically.”

Sir Carter and Rumi 1 month today. 🙏🏽❤️👨🏽👩🏽👧🏽👶🏾👶🏾

A post shared by Beyoncé (@beyonce) on

Tell me more about preelampsia—what is it?

Preeclampsia is a sudden increase in blood pressure in pregnant women after the 20th week of pregnancy, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). The condition can be life-threatening for both the mother and the unborn baby.

It’s also relatively common: Preeclampsia affects approximately five to eight percent of pregnancies, according to the Preeclampsia Foundation. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists add that preeclampsia is the leading cause of maternal and perinatal mortality, accounting for 50,000 to 60,000 deaths per year, worldwide.

Preeclampsia typically occurs in first pregnancies, per the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), but women who have been previously diagnosed with preeclampsia are seven times more likely to develop it in subsequent pregnancies.

Other risk factors include chronic high blood pressure or kidney disease, obesity, and age (women over 40 are at a higher risk). It’s also more common in pregnancies from egg donation or in vitro fertilization (IVF), per the NICHD

Doctors recommend women with those risk factors take low-dose aspirin starting after 12 weeks of pregnancy to lower their risk of developing preeclampsia, according to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.

What are symptoms of preeclampsia?

The first sign of preeclampsia is high blood pressure—specifically a reading of 140/90, says Lakeisha Richardson, M.D., an ob-gyn at the Delta Medical Group Women’s Healthcare Clinic.

In addition to high blood pressure, another big sign of preeclampsia is having too much protein in the urine (a.k.a. proteinuria). Other signs include swelling in your face, hands, and feet, as well as headaches, blurred vision, and right upper quadrant abdominal pain, per the NICHD.

Why is preeclampsia so dangerous?

“Women with preeclampsia have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, heart attack, stroke, and high blood pressure,” says Kelley Saunders, M.D., ob-gyn at Banner University Medicine Women’s Institute.

Beyond that, preeclampsia can lead to eclampsia, a severe condition where a woman with preeclampsia has seizures, which can put her and her baby’s life at risk. Preterm birth, impaired fetal growth as a result of a lack of oxygen and nutrients, and stillbirth are also risks that can result from eclampsia.

Preeclampsia can also lead to HELLP syndrome, which stands for hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelet count, per the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. HELLP syndrome is a medical emergency, characterized by impaired blood clotting and internal liver bleeding, and can lead to death or lifelong health problems for the mother.

How is preeclampsia treated, and does it ever go away on its own?

If a woman has preeclampsia and is at least 37 weeks pregnant, doctors will usually want to deliver the baby right away—which can help treat preeclampsia, per the NICHD. But preeclampsia doesn’t go away automatically—symptoms might still continue even after delivery, though often resolve within six weeks of delivery).

If a woman is less than 37 weeks pregnant, docs will monitor her condition through various tests—like blood and urine samples—as well as her baby’s, through ultrasounds and heart rate monitoring. If the preeclampsia is severe enough, a woman may even be admitted to the hospital for even closer monitoring.

So yeah, it’s a very scary experience. Beyoncé agrees: “I was in survival mode and did not grasp it all until months later,” she said. “Today I have a connection to any parent who has been through such an experience.”

Still, if it’s caught early—and it should be, as long as pregnant woman get proper prenatal care, like attending all prenatal appointments to get blood pressure checks, along with other tests—it can be managed well enough to prevent any serious complications.

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