Preeclampsia (Toxemia)

Preeclampsia is a serious problem that causes high blood pressure and excess protein in your urine. It usually starts after 37 weeks of pregnancy but can develop any time during the second half of your pregnancy -- even during labor or up to six weeks after delivery.

As a precaution, your doctor may induce labor if you are far enough along. If it's too soon to induce labor, your doctor may prescribe medicine and bed rest.

Most women with preeclampsia have healthy babies, but it can cause low birth weight, premature delivery, and breathing problems for your baby. It can also put stress on your own organs.

Call Your Doctor If:

  • You feel bloated, your ankles are very swollen, or your face or upper body has swelling when you wake up.
  • You have headaches, blurred vision, or sensitivity to light.
  • You have seizures or convulsions.

Step-by-Step Care:

  • Get early and regular prenatal care so your doctor can monitor your blood pressure and protein levels in your urine. This can detect preeclampsia early even if you don't have symptoms.
  • If you have chronic high blood pressure, work with your doctor to keep it under control. Limit salt and get regular exercise. Rest on your left side as much as possible.
  • Don't smoke or drink alcohol.
  • Eat healthy, regular meals and take a prenatal vitamin.
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Trina Pagano, MD on October 14, 2016

Sources

SOURCES:

National Heart Lung and Blood Institute: "High Blood Pressure in Pregnancy."

Preeclampsia Foundation: "Symptoms."

St. David's Women's Center of Texas: "Pre-eclampsia."

© 2016 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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