Women who had low blood pressure at the start of their pregnancy, followed by a significant rise in blood pressure need to be watched closely for other signs of preeclampsia.
The only way to cure preeclampsia is to deliver the baby.
If your baby is developed enough (usually 37 weeks or later), your doctor may want your baby to be delivered so the preeclampsia does not get worse. You may receive medicines to help trigger labor, or you may need a c-section.
If your baby is not fully developed and you have mild preeclampsia, the disease can often be managed at home until your baby has a good chance of surviving after delivery. The doctor will probably recommend:
Bed rest, lying on your left side most or all of the time
Drinking extra glasses of water a day
Eating less salt
Frequent doctor visits to make sure you and your baby are doing well
Medicines to lower your blood pressure (sometimes)
Immediately call your doctor if you gain more weight or have new symptoms.
Sometimes, a pregnant woman with preeclampsia is admitted to the hospital so the health care team can more closely watch the baby and mother.
Treatment in the hospital may include:
Medicines given into a vein to control blood pressure and to prevent seizures and other complications
Steroid injections (after 24 weeks) to help speed up the development of the baby's lungs
You and your doctor will continue to discuss the safest time to deliver your baby, considering:
How close you are to your due date. The further along you are in the pregnancy before you deliver, the better it is for your baby.
The severity of the preeclampsia. Preeclampsia has many severe complications that can harm the mother.
How well the baby is doing in the womb.
The baby must be delivered if there are signs of severe preeclampia, including:
Tests that show your baby is not growing well or is not getting enough blood and oxygen
The bottom number of your blood pressure is over 110 mmHg or is greater than 100 mmHg consistently over a 24-hour period
Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of preeclampsia during your pregnancy.
There is no known way to prevent preeclampsia. It is important for all pregnant women to start prenatal care early and continue it through the pregnancy.
At each pregnancy checkup, your health care provider will check your weight, blood pressure, and urine (through a urine dipstick test) to screen you for preeclampsia.
Pregnant women should follow a healthy diet and take prenatal vitamins with folic acid. You should cut back on processed foods, refined sugars, and avoid caffeine, alcohol, and any medication not prescribed by a doctor. Talk to your health care provider before taking any supplements, including herbal preparations.
Sibai BM. Hypertension. In: Gabbe SG, Niebyl JR, Simpson JL, eds. Obstetrics - Normal and Problem Pregnancies. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2007:chap 33.
Cunnigham FG, Leveno KL, Bloom SL, et al . Hypertensive disorders in pregnancy. In: Cunnigham FG, Leveno KL, Bloom SL, et al, eds. Williams Obstetrics. 22nd ed. New York, NY; McGraw-Hill; 2005:chap 34.
Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine; and Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Redmond, Washington; Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.