Pregnancy & Newborn

Preeclampsia: What You Should Know

Pregnancy is an exciting time in your life. To promote a healthy pregnancy, it’s very important to get early and regular prenatal care. At your prenatal visits, your provider will check you for concerning symptoms such as high blood pressure, swelling, and persistent headaches. These can be signs of preeclampsia, a potentially dangerous condition. Learn more about this pregnancy complication and how to keep you and your baby healthy.  

What Is Preeclampsia?  

“Preeclampsia is a pregnancy disorder characterized by high blood pressure and swelling. It is a rapidly progressive condition that can affect both mother and baby,” says Justin Gayle, MD, at Genesis OB/GYN, affiliated with CHI St. Joseph & Texas A&M Health Network.

Preeclampsia typically occurs in mid to late pregnancy but can occur as early as 20 weeks gestation. If untreated, preeclampsia can lead to kidney and liver damage, heart problems, hypertension, or growth restriction to your baby. However, with good prenatal care and proper management of this pregnancy complication, it is possible to have a healthy baby and happy pregnancy.

What Are the Signs of Preeclampsia?

During your regular pregnancy checkup and prenatal visits, your doctor or nurse may ask if you’re experiencing any abnormal symptoms. If you experience any of the following, it’s important to share them with your doctor at your appointment. Some of the changes to look out for include:

  • High blood pressure

  • Excessive swelling in the face, ankles, and hands

  • Persistent headaches

  • Rapid weight gain

  • Changes in vision

  • Dark urine

  • Upper abdominal pain

  • Rapid heartbeat

Many of these symptoms are normal in pregnancy and typically aren’t signs of an underlying condition. Your doctor will look for the presence of a combination of symptoms, and if they suspect you may have preeclampsia, they may conduct blood and urine tests to reach a diagnosis.

What To Expect After Giving Birth

Your blood pressure might increase immediately after giving birth, but it will typically return to normal within 48 hours. In most cases, all symptoms of preeclampsia clear up within six months after giving birth. Visit with your doctor regularly to determine a treatment and recovery plan.

Whether you’re pregnant or hoping to start a family soon, schedule an appointment with your CHI St. Joseph Health OB/GYN. Our team offers a variety of services to help you have a healthy, happy pregnancy, including childbirth classes, tours of our Labor and Delivery Department, and assistance with finding a pediatrician for your baby and creating a birth plan.

Sources:

Dr. Justin Gayle, Genesis OB/GYN, Board Certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology

What To Expect | Preeclampsia: Symptoms, Risk Factors and Treatment
Healthline | Preeclampsia

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