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Health & Pregnancy

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Preeclampsia - Treatment Overview

Mild preeclampsia

For mild preeclampsia that is not rapidly getting worse, you may only have to reduce your level of activity, monitor how you feel, and have frequent office visits and testing.

Moderate to severe preeclampsia

For moderate or severe preeclampsia, or for preeclampsia that is rapidly getting worse, you may need to go to the hospital for expectant management. This typically includes bed rest, medicine, and close monitoring of you and your baby.

Severe preeclampsia or an eclamptic seizure is treated with magnesium sulfate. This medicine can stop a seizure and can prevent seizures. If you are near delivery or have severe preeclampsia, your doctor will plan to deliver your baby as soon as possible.

Life-threatening preeclampsia

If your condition becomes life-threatening to you or your baby, the only treatment options are magnesium sulfate to prevent seizures and delivering the baby.

If you are less than 34 weeks pregnant and a 24- to 48-hour delay is possible, you will likely be given antenatal corticosteroids to speed up the baby's lung development before delivery.

Delivery

A vaginal delivery is usually safest for the mother. It is tried first if she and the baby are both stable.

If preeclampsia is rapidly getting worse or fetal monitoring suggests that the baby cannot safely handle labor contractions, a cesarean section (C-section) delivery is needed.

After childbirth

If you have moderate to severe preeclampsia, your risk of seizures (eclampsia) continues for the first 24 to 48 hours after childbirth. (In very rare cases, seizures are reported later in the postpartum period.) So you may continue magnesium sulfate for 24 hours after delivery.1

Unless you have chronic high blood pressure, your blood pressure is likely to return to normal a few days after delivery. In rare cases, it can take 6 weeks or more. Some women still have high blood pressure 6 weeks after childbirth yet return to normal levels over the long term.

If your blood pressure is still high after delivery, you may be given a blood pressure medicine. You will then have regular checkups with your doctor.

After having preeclampsia, you have a higher-than-average risk of heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease. This may be because the same things that cause preeclampsia also cause heart and kidney disease. To protect your health, work with your doctor on living a heart-healthy lifestyle and getting the checkups you need.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: June 04, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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