Beyoncé recently revealed she had toxemia while pregnant with her twins. Here, everything you need to know about the dangerous condition that led to her emergency C-section.

By Julia Malacoff
Advertisement
Photo: FatCamera/Getty Images

Beyoncé has proven time and again that she can do anything. Slay at the Super Bowl. Give a showstopping performance while pregnant. Be the most Grammy-nominated female musical artist of all time. In general, Beyoncé makes being one of the most amazing humans on earth look easy.

But in her recent Vogue cover story (written by the Bey herself), she opened up about a more difficult moment in her life: the delivery of her twins. She explained that after her first pregnancy, she put a lot of pressure on herself to get back in shape right away. (Remember when the internet couldn't stop analyzing Beyoncé and her post-baby body?)

This time around, things were different, for a pretty significant reason: "I was 218 pounds the day I gave birth to Rumi and Sir," she wrote. "I was swollen from toxemia and had been on bed rest for over a month. My health and my babies' health were in danger, so I had an emergency C-section."

And while she goes on to share more about how she was gentler with herself about getting back to her pre-baby body this time around, she doesn't elaborate on the scary condition that caused her emergency delivery. Here's what you need to know about toxemia, according to health pros.

So, what exactly is preeclampsia (or toxemia)?

Toxemia is another term for preeclampsia. (In fact, toxemia is somewhat of an outdated term for the condition.) "Preeclampsia is a syndrome specific to pregnancy that causes high blood pressure and damage to the organs and tissues in the body," explains Sarah McCormick, D.O., a board-certified ob-gyn at Amita Women's Health First.

Generally, it's diagnosed by taking blood pressure measurements, testing for abnormal kidney and liver functioning, and looking for certain proteins in the pregnant woman's urine.

And while docs don't know what causes preeclampsia, there are some clues. "We know that the placenta implants abnormally into the uterus," says Dr. McCormick. "There also is an immune-related response noted in preeclampsia, where the immune system is activated to attack the placenta and blood vessels." Because of this, it's thought that the cause of preeclampsia probably has something to do with the placenta.

If that all sounds pretty dangerous, well, it is, for both mother and baby. "In the mother, the elevated blood pressure and tissue damage can harm her liver, kidneys, brain, and virtually every system in the body," says Dr. McCormick. "Worst case scenario, the patient can stroke from having elevated blood pressure, which can be deadly or cause permanent disability." Preeclampsia can also lead to eclampsia-seizures that occur during pregnancy or shortly after giving birth. (Related: The Seemingly Innocent Signs of a Stroke In Women)

There are also risks to the baby's development, she says, since the attachment to the placenta isn't quite right. "This can impair growth and cause the baby to not get enough oxygen and nutrients to survive or grow properly. The elevated blood pressure can also cause the placenta to bleed and tear away from the uterine wall." This can be deadly for the baby and mother because it can cause them both to lose blood quickly.

Who is at risk for preeclampsia?

Here's the good news: "Preeclampsia affects approximately 3.9 percent of pregnancies," says Dr. McCormick. So not *that* many women experience it. But there are some important risk factors to know about.

"First-time moms are especially at risk, says Kelly L. Strutz, Ph.D., assistant professor in the department of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive biology at Michigan State University. "It occurs in up to 5 percent of first pregnancies, but only around 2 percent of later pregnancies." Women with a family history of preeclampsia, and those with chronic diseases like high blood pressure and diabetes, are also at higher risk, she adds.

Women older than 35 may also be susceptible to preeclampsia, according to Dr. McCormick, as well as women who have already had it in a previous pregnancy. You may remember that Kim Kardashian was warned about the dangers of getting pregnant with baby number three based on her past history of preeclampsia. (Ultimately, she decided to use a surrogate.)

What are the signs of preeclampsia?

Often, there are none. "Most women will not feel different than usual," says Michael Cackovic, M.D., an ob-gyn at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. "Only severe preeclampsia causes symptoms such as headaches, vision changes, and severe belly pain over the liver, usually accompanied by nausea and vomiting."

Swelling of the limbs and face can also be signs, according to Dr. McCormick. And generally, it presents sometime after the 20-week mark in the pregnancy.

Because preeclampsia isn't always obvious, it's important to get regular checkups throughout pregnancy. (Related: 5 Weird Health Concerns That Can Pop Up During Pregnancy)

How is preeclampsia treated?

"The best treatment for preeclampsia is to induce delivery," says Strutz. If induction doesn't work, an emergency C-section may be necessary. "Separating the mom from both the baby and the placenta usually resolves the condition." And while postpartum preeclampsia is extremely rare, usually moms are monitored afterward just to be sure it's resolved.

Of course, since women can develop the condition around 20 weeks, delivery isn't always possible or desirable, as was the case with Beyoncé, who was put on bed rest. "If the pregnancy isn't far enough along to deliver the baby safely, medications to lower blood pressure or prevent seizures can be given in the meantime," she says.

In the end, it sounds like the experience left her with a relatable, but still Beyoncé-level, perspective: "To this day my arms, shoulders, breasts, and thighs are fuller. I have a little mommy pouch, and I'm in no rush to get rid of it," she wrote. "I think it's real. Whenever I'm ready to get a six-pack, I will go into beast zone and work my ass off until I have it. But right now, my little FUPA and I feel like we are meant to be."

Comments (4)

Anonymous
November 21, 2019
Hello I'm From Memphis Tennessee, USA I feel so joyful today because of the help Dr  Sunny has rendered to me for  getting my Husband back with his spell. I have been married for 4 years and it has been so terrible because my husband was cheating on me and was seeking for a divorce. But when i came across Dr Sunny Email, on the internet posted by a lady, i decided to get in touch with him and i explained my situation to him and then seek his help but to my greatest surprise he told me that he will help me with my case for there is no problem without a solution. Here i am celebrating because my Husband is back home and am really enjoying my marriage, what a great celebration. i will keep on testifying on the internet because Dr Sunny is truly a real spell caster. Why not contact Dr Sunny now if you are facing any challenges in your relationship life. Email solutioncentre911@gmail.com Also specialize i 1) love Spell2) Spell lost love 3) Spells divorce 4) Spells of marriage 5) Spell binding 6) Spells of break 7) Banish a lover past. 8.) You want to be promoted in your office 9) you want to satisfy your lover contact this great man if you have a problem for a lasting solution Through Email: solutioncentre911@gmail.com
Anonymous
August 4, 2019
Hi everyone I'm Carolina peter and am here to share the wonderful work Dr tunde did for me. After 4 years in marriage with my husband with 2 kids, my husband started acting weird and going out with other women and showed me cold love, on several occasions he threatens to divorce me if I dare question him about his affair with other women, I was totally devastated and confused until a old friend of mine told me about a spell caster on the internet called Dr. tunde who help people with relationship and marriage problem by the powers of love spells, at first I doubted if such thing ever exists but decided to give it a try, when I contact him, he helped me cast a love spell and within 48hours my husband come back to me and started apologizing, now he has stopped going out with other women and his with me for good and for real. Contact this great love spell caster for your relationship or marriage problem to be solved today via email: babatundesolutioncentre1@gmail.com or call or whatsapp:+2348143581382 Also specialize in treating all kinds of illness, HERPES VIRUS, HEPATITIS B, CANCER, BRAIN DISEASE, INFERTILITY, DIABETES AND MORE.
Anonymous
August 4, 2019
Hi everyone I'm Carolina peter and am here to share the wonderful work Dr tunde did for me. After 4 years in marriage with my husband with 2 kids, my husband started acting weird and going out with other women and showed me cold love, on several occasions he threatens to divorce me if I dare question him about his affair with other women, I was totally devastated and confused until a old friend of mine told me about a spell caster on the internet called Dr. tunde who help people with relationship and marriage problem by the powers of love spells, at first I doubted if such thing ever exists but decided to give it a try, when I contact him, he helped me cast a love spell and within 48hours my husband come back to me and started apologizing, now he has stopped going out with other women and his with me for good and for real. Contact this great love spell caster for your relationship or marriage problem to be solved today via email: babatundesolutioncentre1@gmail.com or call or whatsapp:+2348143581382 Also specialize in treating all kinds of illness, HERPES VIRUS, HEPATITIS B, CANCER, BRAIN DISEASE, INFERTILITY, DIABETES AND MORE.
Anonymous
August 22, 2018
Contact Dr Sambo now for Lottery Spell winning numbers Email: divinespellhome@gmail.com Dr. Sambo Whats,App. him now +1(267)527-9481 My name is Adrienne Bernardo I Live in:New Jersey, I am 55 years old,I want you to know how Dr Sambo helped me, he is do generous with lottery winning numbers, early this year 2018 I contacted him for a Canadian lottery number, he gave me and I won $750,000,000 SEVEN HUNDRED AND FIFTY MILLION DOLLARS I still can’t believe people could have this kind of powers in this modern days. Dr Sambo is the best, he put a smile on my face and my family is rich now. Everybody must be rich, contact Dr Sambo for lucky winning numbers and be rich all your life. Contact him now, it doesn’t matter where you are ,it doesn’t matter your status in life,just contact him and he will sully help you okay... Email: divinespellhome@gmail.com Dr. Sambo Whats,App. him now +1(267)527-9481