What Is Postpartum Preeclampsia?

Today we are going to talk about a condition that can potentially have very serious complications. Knowing what signs and symptoms to watch for will help you stay on top of things and help you feel empowered in taking care of your postpartum recovery. 

What do we know about Postpartum Preeclampsia?

We know that pregnant women can have preeclampsia. It’s important to know that you can develop it during postpartum too. Postpartum preeclampsia is related to preeclampsia that women have in pregnancy by developing high blood pressure and high levels of protein in the urine.

When does it happen and what should you look for?

Most of the women that get postpartum preeclampsia develop it within 48 hours after birthing their baby. However, the condition can develop as long as six weeks after birth. It is a serious condition and can lead to seizures, strokes, and other serious complications if not treated swiftly by your care provider. It’s important to be familiar with the signs and symptoms. 

The symptoms of postpartum preeclampsia include:

  • High blood pressure, typically over 140/90
  • High levels of the protein called proteinuria in the urine
  • Swelling of the face, hands, feet or limbs
  • Headache, often severe
  • Vision changes, blurred vision
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Decreased urination
  • Abdominal pain, typically on the upper right side of the abdomen 
  • Rapid weight gain

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and have recently had a baby, you should contact your care provider for immediate medical care.

How do they test for it & what are the treatments?

Your care provider might perform the following tests to diagnose postpartum preeclampsia:

  • Urinalysis to check your urine for protein 
  • Blood pressure check
  • Blood tests for a platelet count and to check the functioning of your liver and kidneys
  • Brain scan to look for possible brain damage if you have had a seizure

The following treatments may be prescribed if it has been determined that you have postpartum preeclampsia by your care provider:

  • Blood pressure medicine to lower the level of your blood pressure 
  • Anti-coagulant medications to reduce the risk of blood clots
  • Anti-seizure medications, magnesium sulfate is commonly prescribed to prevent seizures

With all of the excitement and anxiety that can come with having a new baby and recovering, the last thing you want is something else to worry about. However, knowing about postpartum preeclampsia and being familiar with the signs and symptoms will help you to be on top of it if you develop any of them. 

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