Everything You Need to Know About Postpartum Preeclampsia

August 19, 2020

It is normal for women to be worried about their new baby following childbirth, but they should also take time to monitor their own health and check for symptoms of serious disorders like postpartum preeclampsia.

What is postpartum preeclampsia?

Postpartum preeclampsia is a multisystem progressive disorder that develops soon after childbirth and is characterized by high blood pressure and protein in the urine. According to OB-GYN William Alter, DO, the disorder doesn’t always produce protein in the urine, but women could see other organ problems.

It is important to get diagnosed promptly because this is a progressive disorder that can worsen significantly and cause seizures and other complications.

“Over time, patients could develop disseminated intravascular coagulation, which is a vascular problem. Their organs can start shutting down if not taken care of promptly,” says Dr. Alter.

Diagnosis and symptoms

Postpartum preeclampsia can have a variety of symptoms. Notable symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Vision changes such as blurry vision or blacked out vision
  • Severe abdominal pain

Your doctor will get a blood pressure reading. If it is elevated, then they will perform blood work and a urine test to look for protein and other factors in the bloodstream.

Risk factors

The causes of postpartum preeclampsia are not known, but there are several risk factors women should note.  These include:

  • If this is the patients first pregnancy
  • History of preeclampsia in a previous pregnancy
  • Patient younger than 18 or older than 40
  • History of high blood pressure, kidney disease, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, vascular diseases, or even obesity

Treatment

Magnesium sulfate is the most common treatment for postpartum preeclampsia. “This is an IV medication they get for about 24 hours,” Dr. Alter says.

Prevention

According to Dr. Alter, there is not much that can be done for prevention. However, if the patient has a history of high blood pressure or preeclampsia, they can take baby aspirin during their pregnancy.

“Also controlling blood pressure if you have a pre-existing condition is going to be important,” Dr. Alter says. “Postpartum preeclampsia usually just develops, and there is no way to prevent it. If you start having symptoms, you should call your physician and get things checked out immediately.”

Schedule an appointment with your OB-GYN today, or find an OB-GYN with Kettering Health Network.