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

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.

Last Reviewed:
October 08, 2016
Last Updated:
August 29, 2017