Postpartum Preeclampsia

What is Postpartum Preeclampsia?

High blood pressure that develops just after childbirth is referred to as postpartum Postpartum Preeclampsia. While rare with less than 200,000 cases in the United States annually, the condition is potentially dangerous and often requires detection through laboratory tests. It also requires careful monitoring to ensure blood pressure levels aren’t excessively or dangerously elevated.

What are the Symptoms of Postpartum Preeclampsia?

Since there are usually no presenting symptoms, a diagnosis is often made after the condition has developed, which may result in a delay in treatment and present added risks for the mother. There is no definitive cause of postpartum preeclampsia. The delay in onset of the condition may be due to the time it takes for the uterus to lose its lining following birth.  Postpartum preeclampsia can develop within 48-72 hours of delivery and sometimes appears a few months after childhood.

Possible signs and symptoms:

  • Blood pressure 140/90 or greater
  • Reduced urination
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Severe headaches
  • Abdominal pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Changes in vision

Postpartum Preeclampsia Causes

No precise causes of postpartum preeclampsia have been established. This condition may begin developing before delivery time but will only manifest itself after childbirth. Some risk factors exist that can increase the vulnerability to the condition:

  • For a woman coming from a family with a postpartum preeclampsia history, there’s an increased risk of acquiring the condition. The risk intensifies if an immediate family member such as a mother or sister has a history of postpartum preeclampsia.
  • Getting pregnant after the age of 40 or before reaching 20 years.
  • Developing high blood pressure after the second trimester of pregnancy.
  • Being pregnant with twins or other multiple birth.
  • Expectant mothers who are obese are also more likely to get the condition.

What is Postpartum Preeclampsia?

Diagnosis is typically confirmed with a urine test to identify higher than usual protein amounts. Kidney and liver function tests may be done as a precaution. Since the condition often goes away on its own, treatment is usually limited to monitoring blood pressure. If blood pressure is excessively high, medication may be prescribed to lower hypertension. There are no known measures that can be taken to prevent postpartum preeclampsia.

Early delivery is sometimes recommended should preeclampsia, the term for the condition if it develops during pregnancy, results in excessively high blood pressure that may be putting the mother at risk while pregnant. If this is the case, the risks of delivery before the due date are usually balanced with health concerns for the mother to make a decision.

Postpartum Preeclampsia Prevention

Unfortunately, there is no way of fully preventing postpartum preeclampsia. However, an individual can manage the risk factors that predispose a woman to acquire it. Here are natural solutions and lifestyle changes that can prove beneficial:

  • Exercise regularly. Exercises during pregnancy lower inflammations in the body, safely manage the body weight and manage stress. However, these exercises should be moderate.
  • Prevent fatigue and dehydration
  • Drinking enough water every day can balance sodium levels, as well as keeping the body well hydrated. A pregnant woman should avoid alcoholic beverages or caffeinated drinks.
  • Similarly, it is imperative to have enough daily sleep of between seven and eight hours or more.
  • Eat a healthy diet rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants are highly recommended for pregnant women. Since high blood pressure is a risk factor for the condition, reducing the amount of salt, while increasing potassium-rich foods, can significantly manage high blood pressure. Such foods include avocados, sweet potatoes, vegetables, fruits, and bananas.
  • Visit a doctor regularly. After coming to the knowledge of the pregnancy, one should begin sessions with a doctor for check-ups. Prenatal visits monitor blood pressure as well as any warning signs of the condition.
Last Reviewed:
October 08, 2016
Last Updated:
January 11, 2018