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Common Questions About Preeclampsia

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Preeclampsia is a common pregnancy-related condition. It’s most frequently known for causing high blood pressure after your 20th week of pregnancy. But it can also cause other changes to your health, such as affecting kidney and liver function.


Want to know more about preeclampsia? Here we’ll answer some of your most common questions.



Can I prevent preeclampsia?


While many theories exist, research is still underway to fully understand what causes preeclampsia. As a result, there isn’t a sure way to prevent preeclampsia from happening. If you have risk factors for the condition, the March of Dimes says your OB GYN may prescribe low-dose aspirin. But it’s important to only take it as directed by your doctor.


In general, your best defense is regular prenatal checkups. Through routine monitoring, you’ll be more likely to catch a problem earlier. Then, you can get treatment sooner.   



When is preeclampsia most likely to happen?


By definition, preeclampsia is a condition that happens after 20 weeks of pregnancy. However, you’re most likely to be diagnosed with preeclampsia during your pregnancy's last couple of months.


There’s also a very small chance of preeclampsia after your delivery. This condition is called postpartum preeclampsia. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, it’s most common within 48 hours after you have your baby. 



How do I know if I have preeclampsia?


Preeclampsia can cause several different symptoms. In some cases, these could include headache, blurry vision, pain in the abdomen, or fatigue. If you’re having symptoms, your OB GYN may want to do some additional tests.


You’ll most likely have a blood pressure check and provide a urine sample at every prenatal visit. These may help detect and confirm preeclampsia. Your OB GYN may also use blood tests or an ultrasound to help diagnose the condition.



If I had preeclampsia with a previous pregnancy, will I get it again?


Preeclampsia is more likely during your first pregnancy. However, if you’ve had it before, your chance of developing it again does go up. The Preeclampsia Foundation says the estimated risk of having the condition another time is about 20%. But this number can vary. Because your risk is greater, your OB GYN may take extra steps to monitor you.



What is the treatment for preeclampsia?


When you’re diagnosed with preeclampsia, your treatment will take into account how many weeks pregnant you are. If you’re in the last few weeks of your pregnancy, your OB GYN may suggest inducing labor. Often, this is the safest option for you and your baby.


If you are earlier on in your pregnancy, your OB GYN may want to give the baby more time before delivery. To help with this goal, you may need bed rest. Your doctor might also prescribe medications to help control your blood pressure, prevent seizures, or help your baby’s lungs develop more quickly.


The good news is that the majority of pregnant women with preeclampsia have healthy deliveries. With the right monitoring and care, you’ll likely see any preeclampsia symptoms resolve within six weeks following your baby’s arrival.


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