Preeclampsia: Signs, Symptoms and Treatment
Preeclampsia, a condition characterized by high blood pressure, is an illness that new mothers may experience during pregnancy or after delivery. If left unmanaged, this rapidly developing condition can impact the health of a mother and unborn baby. Communicating with your health care provider about your symptoms is key for protecting you and your baby’s health.
Preeclampsia affects at least 5-8% of all pregnancies. It usually occurs after 20 weeks of pregnancy and can develop up to six weeks after giving birth. Signs and symptoms of preeclampsia include:
- High blood pressure
- Sudden weight gain
- Shortness of breath
- Changes in vision
- Protein in urine
If you are diagnosed with preeclampsia, your health care provider may prescribe medications to lower blood pressure or to prevent seizures. Delivering the baby is usually the most effective treatment, although sometimes the condition will worsen before it gets better. Additionally, a small number of new mothers will develop preeclampsia for the first time after giving birth.
Watching your health closely is crucial for discovering, managing and treating preeclampsia. As you monitor your health, here are 5 of the most important things to remember:
Preeclampsia: Important Steps to Take
1. Get Good Prenatal Care as Early as Possible.
During the check-ups you receive throughout your pregnancy, your health care provider will monitor you and your baby’s health. They can help you identify symptoms of preeclampsia, help you manage the condition and start your treatment.
2. Check Your Blood Pressure as Often as You Can.
You can have a friend check it for you, or you can use a free blood pressure machine found in drug stores. If your blood pressure is high, let your health care provider know immediately.
3. Monitor Your Symptoms.
Let your health care provider know if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Severe headache that doesn’t improve with medication
- Sudden pain under the right rib cage
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea and vomiting
- Seeing spots in front of your eyes
- Swelling in your hands, face and/or feet
- Sudden weight gain of over 5 pounds in one week
4. Take Medication as Prescribed.
If you’re prescribed medication, continue to take the medication as prescribed and don’t stop taking it without talking to your care provider – even if you start to feel better.
5. Communicate with Your Health Care Provider.
If you have any questions about your health or preeclampsia, reach out to your health care providers. They can provide specialized guidance and care for your specific health needs.
For more information, visit www.preeclampsia.org.
Download this preeclampsia infographic: