new high blood pressure after 20 weeks of pregnancy. It usually goes away after you give birth.
Not all high blood pressure is preeclampsia. In some women, blood pressure goes up very high in the second or third trimester. This is sometimes called gestational hypertension, and it can lead to preeclampsia.
Preeclampsia can be dangerous for the mother and baby. It can
keep the baby from getting enough blood and oxygen. It also can harm the
kidneys, and brain. Women with very bad preeclampsia
can have dangerous seizures. This is called
Experts don't know the exact cause.
Preeclampsia seems to start because the
placenta doesn't grow the usual network of blood vessels deep in the wall of
the uterus. This leads to poor blood flow in the
If your mother had
preeclampsia while she was pregnant with you, you have a higher chance of
getting it during pregnancy. You also have a higher chance of getting it if the
mother of your baby's father had preeclampsia.
Already having high blood pressure when you
get pregnant raises your chance of getting preeclampsia.
preeclampsia usually doesn't cause symptoms.
But preeclampsia can cause
rapid weight gain and sudden swelling of the hands and face.
preeclampsia causes symptoms such as a very bad headache and
trouble seeing and breathing. It also can cause belly pain and decreased
Preeclampsia is usually found during a prenatal
This is one reason why it's so important to go to all of your prenatal
visits. You need to have your blood pressure checked often. During these
visits, your blood pressure is measured. A sudden increase in blood pressure often is the first
sign of a problem.
You also will have a urine test to look for
protein, another sign of preeclampsia.
If you have high blood
pressure, tell your doctor right away if you have a headache or belly pain.
These signs of preeclampsia can occur before protein shows up in your
The only cure for preeclampsia is having the baby.
You may get medicines
to lower your blood pressure and to prevent seizures.
You also may get medicine
to help your baby's lungs get ready for birth.
Your doctor will try to deliver
your baby when the baby has grown enough to be ready for birth. But sometimes a
baby has to be delivered early to protect the health of the mother or the baby.
If this happens, your baby will get special care for premature babies.