Preeclampsia: Care Instructions

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Preeclampsia is high blood pressure and signs of organ damage, usually after 20 weeks of pregnancy. If it's not managed, it can harm you or your baby and lead to dangerous seizures (eclampsia).

Most people with preeclampsia have healthy babies. Preeclampsia usually goes away in the weeks after birth.

In rare cases, symptoms of preeclampsia don't show up until days or weeks after childbirth.

  • Monitor yourself for symptoms of preeclampsia. Call your doctor if you have symptoms such as a severe headache, vision changes, or sudden swelling in your face and hands.

  • Keep track of your blood pressure at home if your doctor asks you to. Ask your doctor to make sure that the monitor is working and that you're using it right. Follow instructions about when to take your blood pressure and what to avoid before taking your blood pressure.

  • Take medicines exactly as prescribed. You may need to take medicine to control your blood pressure.

  • Don't smoke. If you smoke, quit or cut back as much as you can. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor.

  • Gain a healthy amount of weight. Talk with your doctor about how much weight gain is healthy for you. Gaining too much weight while you're pregnant may be harmful.

When should you call for help?

Share this information with your partner or a friend. They can help you watch for warning signs.

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have a seizure.
  • You have trouble breathing.
  • You have chest pain.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have symptoms of preeclampsia, such as:
    • Sudden swelling of your face, hands, or feet.
    • New vision problems (such as dimness, blurring, or seeing spots).
    • A severe headache.
  • Your blood pressure is very high, such as 160/110 or higher.
  • Your blood pressure is higher than your doctor told you it should be, or it rises quickly.
  • You have any vaginal bleeding.
  • You have new nausea or vomiting.
  • You think that you are in labor.
  • You have pain in your belly or pelvis.
  • You gain weight rapidly.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Where can you learn more?

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.