Postpartum Preeclampsia is a rare hypertensive disorder that requires immediate medical attention. Scary, yes. But the right treatment can get you back to your healthy self relatively quickly.
What is postpartum preeclampsia?
Let’s break it down:
Preeclampsia = a pregnancy complication that causes high blood pressure and protein in your urine.
Postpartum = after birth
Therefore: Postpartum preeclampsia is a disorder that causes high blood pressure and protein in your urine after you give birth. It’s sometimes known as postpartum hypertension.
Postpartum preeclampsia may also result in the following:
- Horrible headaches
- Upper abdominal pain
- Swelling in all sorts of places—your face, arms, legs, hands, feet
- Blurred vision
- Weight gain
Postpartum preeclampsia usually appears about 48 hours after giving birth but can take up to 6 weeks to show up. It can happen to you whether or not you had preeclampsia symptoms during your pregnancy.
Preeclampsia after birth: FAQs
What causes postpartum preeclampsia?
While we don’t know for sure what causes postpartum preeclampsia, we do know that there are some risk factors to watch out for. These include:
- Issues with blood pressure. If this is familiar territory for you, your chances of developing postpartum preeclampsia may be increased.
- Your age. Being on either end of the age spectrum (under 20, over 40) can increase your chances.
- Type 1 and 2 diabetes. If you’re living with one of these conditions, you may already be uber conscious of your blood pressure.
- Family history. Blood pressure woes can be passed down. Just like those beautiful eyes you inherited. It all comes with the package.
- Previous experience with preeclampsia. If preeclampsia was a feature of your current or previous pregnancy, your chances of postpartum preeclampsia are higher.
But, and this is important, postpartum preeclampsia can happen to anyone who has just given birth. So if you’re experiencing symptoms, get in touch with your healthcare practitioner right away.
How serious is postpartum preeclampsia?
Postpartum preeclampsia definitely needs to be treated quickly.
If not, it can lead to a variety of risky complications such as seizures, strokes, and a life-threatening liver disorder called HELLP. These can all have long-term effects on your organs, and may even lead to permanent damage to your brain, kidneys, and liver. In the worst-case scenario, untreated postpartum preeclampsia can lead to death.
So, again, if you are having any of the symptoms listed above, please call your healthcare provider right away.
How long does postpartum preeclampsia last?
The condition can last for several weeks and needs to be closely monitored by your healthcare provider.
Regardless of severity, if you have postpartum preeclampsia, your normal post-childbirth recovery time may be extended a bit—so it might be wise to be flexible about plans to travel or return to work.
How is postpartum preeclampsia treated?
First, diagnosis. Your doc will check your blood pressure, do blood tests to check your liver and kidney function, and do a urinalysis to check your urine for protein.
If you’re diagnosed with postpartum preeclampsia, you’ll be given blood pressure meds. You may also be given blood thinners and anti-seizure treatment.
Does postpartum preeclampsia go away?
The answer is yes! With treatment, your blood pressure should stabilize and your other symptoms should hit the road.
Knowing the signs of preeclampsia after delivery is the best thing you can do to protect yourself as it means you’ll be able to get treatment as soon as possible. Look out for spikes in blood pressure, nausea and vomiting, vision changes, swelling, and severe abdominal pain. Check in with your doc should you experience any of these symptoms.
Because this disorder coincides with having a newborn, it can be a serious cause of stress. Don’t be shy about reaching out to your partner or friends and family for help and support. Allow yourself all the time you need to recover.
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