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What Is Preeclampsia?

Expecting a baby is a very special time. It is also a time when you may be susceptible to getting unexpected health conditions. One of those is preeclampsia, which can feel symptomless but can be very serious. 

Preeclampsia can happen before, during or after pregnancy. It is indicated by an increase in blood pressure and problems with one or more organs, such as the kidneys. Fortunately, it is easily found during routine prenatal care visits. So, be sure to go to all of your prenatal appointments and have your blood pressure checked regularly. 

High blood pressure is only one symptom of preeclampsia. Other possible warning signs include: 

  • Severe headache
  • Changes in vision
  • Swelling in legs, hands or face
  • Sudden weight gain
  • Feeling nauseated or vomiting
  • Pain in right upper abdomen 
  • Trouble breathing 

Another possible sign of preeclampsia is having protein in your urine.

Similarly, gestational hypertension is pregnancy-induced high blood pressure. Pregnant women can develop high blood pressure after 20 weeks of pregnancy or up to 12 weeks after having their babies. High blood pressure is when your blood pressure is higher than 140/90 mm Hg. Pregnancy-induced high blood pressure may go away after childbirth. 

What You Can Do

Make sure you go to all your prenatal visits. There's no guaranteed way to prevent pregnancy-induced high blood pressure. However, the effects of common risk factors like obesity and a history of high blood pressure can be minimized with exercise and a healthy diet.

If you develop preeclampsia, your provider will keep a close eye on you and your baby. Some women with preeclampsia require hospitalization and early delivery. If you developed high blood pressure during your pregnancy, your provider will closely watch your blood pressure after delivery. It’s important you follow your provider’s advice.  

More Resources

Overlake offers a wide variety of classes and support groups before, during and after pregnancy. Sign up for a class today!

You can also download Overlake’s OBaby app, which includes hundreds of articles on pregnancy and parenting. 

Learn more about the Overlake Childbirth Center.

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