Medical Services Patients & Visitors Health Information For Medical Professionals Quality About Us
Text Size:  -   +  |  Print Page  |  Email Page

Preeclampsia - self-care

Alternate Names

Toxemia - self-care; PIH - self-care; Pregnancy-induced hypertension - self-care

Description

Preeclampsia is high blood pressure and protein in the urine after the 20th week of pregnancy. It can be mild or severe, but the only treatment is to deliver the baby.

What to Expect

If you are past 37 weeks and your blood pressure is moderately elevated, your health care provider will likely advise you to deliver early. This may involve getting medicines to start (induce) labor or having a cesarean birth (C-section).

If you are less than 37 weeks pregnant, the goal is to prolong your pregnancy as long as it is safe. Doing so allows your baby to develop longer inside of you.

  • If your preeclampsia is severe, you may need to stay in the hospital to be monitored closely.
  • If your preeclampsia is mild, you may be able to stay at home on bed rest. You will need to have frequent checkups and tests.

Bed Rest and Self-care at Home

When you are at home, your doctor will likely ask you to reduce your physical activity.

Your health care provider will tell you how much fluid to drink every day and what other changes you may need to make in your diet. You may need to limit your salt intake.

You may need to take medicines to lower your blood pressure. Take these medicines the way your provider tells you to.

DO NOT take any extra vitamins, calcium, aspirin, or other medicines without talking with your provider first.

Often, women who have preeclampsia do not feel sick or have any symptoms. Still, both you and your baby may be in danger. You need to stay on bed rest to keep you and your baby as healthy as possible. You may be uncomfortable and feel stressed, but bed rest will get easier to cope with as you get used to it.

Risks of Preeclampsia

There are risks to both you and your baby if you develop preeclampsia:

Monitoring You and Your Baby

While you are home, your provider may ask you to:

  • Measure your blood pressure
  • Monitor how much fluid you drink
  • Check your weight
  • Monitor how often your baby moves and kicks

Your provider will teach you how to do these things.

You will need frequent visits with your provider to make sure you and your baby are doing well. You will likely have:

  • Visits with your provider once a week or more
  • Ultrasounds to monitor the size and movement of your baby, and fluid around your baby
  • A nonstress test to check how your baby is doing
  • Blood or urine tests

When to Call the Doctor

Call your health care provider right away if you:

  • Have swelling in your hands, face, or eyes (edema)
  • Suddenly gain weight over 1 or 2 days, or you gain more than 2 pounds in a week
  • Have a headache that does not go away or becomes worse
  • Are not urinating very often
  • Have nausea and vomiting
  • Have vision changes, such as you cannot see for a short time, see flashing lights or spots, are sensitive to light, or have blurry vision
  • Feel light-headed or faint
  • Have pain in your belly below your ribs
  • Have pain in your right shoulder
  • Have problems breathing
  • Bruise easily

References

Sibai BM. Hypertension. In: Gabbe SG, Niebyl JR, Simpson JL, et al, eds. Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 35.


Review Date: 11/19/2014
Reviewed By: Cynthia D. White, MD, Fellow American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Group Health Cooperative, Bellevue, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
adam.com