If you have preeclampsia, you will need regular exams to assess whether your condition is becoming more severe. Your exams may include:
- Measurement of your blood pressure while lying down on your left side, standing up, or sitting in a chair.
- Measurement of your weight to check for sudden weight gain (a sign of fluid retention caused by preeclampsia getting worse).
- An assessment of your heart and lung function with a stethoscope.
- A check for increased reflexes.
- A check for abdominal pain, especially in the upper right area where the liver is located.
- An assessment of your fetus. This is done by:
- Monitoring fetal heart tones.
- Checking fetal growth by measuring the distance between the base and top of your uterus (fundal height).
- Follow-up blood and urine tests.
- Questions to determine whether you are alert, such as asking you to state the current time, date, and place.
- Checking for signs of vision problems. You may be asked to read and may have your eyes examined.
With frequent physical exams, your doctor or nurse-midwife can closely monitor your condition. Noticing small but important changes makes it possible to catch complications in their early stages and to assess how rapidly they are progressing.
Laboratory tests are also important for monitoring preeclampsia. Often changes in the blood and urine occur before you start to notice physical symptoms of severe preeclampsia.