Postpartum preeclampsia is a serious condition, and it can happen to any woman who has just delivered a baby.
Giving birth drains you physically and mentally. And being diagnosed with preeclampsia after your baby is born can be all that more challenging.
You will need to work together with your health care provider to avoid any further problems and to get timely treatment.
In addition, you need to understand about your condition to know your options.
It is important to note that the information given in this article is for educational purpose only. Please do not take it as medical advice and consult your health care provider before deciding for a treatment option.
So, what is postpartum preeclampsia?
What Is Postpartum Preeclampsia?
Postpartum preeclampsia happens when you have high blood pressure and too much protein in your urine soon after giving birth. It develops within 48 hours of delivery. However, sometimes, preeclampsia can happen as long as six weeks or later after delivery.
This condition needs immediate medical attention. If left untreated, it can lead to serious complications such as seizures and death.
What Are the Symptoms of Postpartum Preeclampsia?
It may be hard to detect this condition on your own. And unfortunately, most women suffering from postpartum preeclampsia do not exhibit any signs or symptoms during their pregnancy.
Symptoms of this condition include intense headaches, additional protein in your urine, temporary vision loss, light sensitivity, blurred vision, high blood pressure (140/90 millimeters of mercury (Hg) or more), decreased urine output, and abdominal pain.
What Causes Postpartum Preeclampsia?
The causes of this condition are not well-known. However, there are some risk factors for postpartum preeclampsia.
- Chronic high blood pressure
- High blood pressure after 20 weeks gestation
- Having twins or multiples
Complications of Postpartum Preeclampsia
Postpartum preeclampsia can lead to a number of complications. Some of them are listed below:
HELLP (hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelet count) syndrome can be seriously dangerous and can happen right after your delivery or when you are pregnant.
It causes problems with your blood pressure, blood, and liver. These problems can harm you and your child if left untreated. In addition, HELLP syndrome can lead to complications such as stroke, liver rupture, and seizures.
It is the accumulation of fluid in the lungs. Symptoms of pulmonary edema include cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain.
Thromboembolism happens when a blood clot forms in a blood vessel. It is a major cause of death, particularly in adult people. Treatment of thromboembolism may include aspirin and blood thinners.
A stroke happens when an artery carrying blood to your brain is blocked or a blood clot bursts. Without blood, brain cells start to die within minutes. This can lead to mental, cognitive, and physical disabilities.
Eclampsia causes seizures and can damage your kidneys, liver, eyes, and brain.
How to Diagnose Preeclampsia After the Baby is Born
Lab tests help diagnose the disorder:
- Urinalysis: Your doctor may test your urine taken over a 24-hour period to check if it contains protein
- Blood tests
- Blood pressure check
How to Treat Postpartum Preeclampsia?
It can be treated in the following ways:
Women suffering from preeclampsia can benefit from antiseizure medications like magnesium sulfate. The medication helps prevent seizures and is given intravenously (injected directly into the vein). It is given for 24 hours after delivery of the baby. Also, women who receive this medication are required to stay in the hospital for monitoring of the treatment.
If your blood pressure is extremely high, your doctor may recommend an antihypertensive medication to reduce your blood pressure.
How to Cope with the Disorder?
We all know that the postpartum phase brings emotional as well as physical changes. You may be required to stay in the hospital longer if you are detected with postpartum preeclampsia. This can undoubtedly cause more stress.
Support from loved ones, friends and family will be needed to help you cope with this condition. Also, you should talk with your physician to determine how you can safely manage your condition.
What Should You Expect from Recovery?
To help control your blood pressure, your physician will work to find the right medicine that will help relieve your symptoms.
It is also important to note that recovering from childbirth includes emotional as well as physical changes. These changes include constipation, mood swings, abdominal discomfort, vaginal discharge, sleep problems, tender breasts, and fatigue.
Additionally, you should know that you might need to spend more time in the hospital than you would otherwise. You may also face a challenge in taking care of your baby and yourself. So, try to do the following:
- Focus on regaining your energy and let go of tasks that are not important
- Learn about the symptoms that indicate an emergency
- Keep track of and get to follow-up medical appointments
- Return to work only when your doctor says
- Invest in a babysitter if it’s possible so that you can take rest
Talk to your physician to know about how to care for yourself and what’s okay to do. Ask questions if you have any doubts. Remember to discuss any new symptoms with your physician immediately.
Most importantly, if you experience symptoms of depression or anxiety, let your doctor know.
How to Prepare for Your Appointment?
If you have just been through delivery and you have symptoms and signs of postpartum preeclampsia, visit your doctor immediately.
We suggest you do the following things before making an appointment with your doctor.
- Note down the questions you want to ask your doctor
- Be sure to take a friend or a relative with you to your appointment as it can help you remember all the vital information
Here are some of the questions you may ask your doctor about:
- How serious is your condition?
- What kind of treatment is best for you?
- What type of tests do you have to take?
- Can you continue to breastfeed your baby?
- How can you handle other conditions together with postpartum preeclampsia?
- What symptoms need immediate medical care?
What to Expect from Your Doctor?
Here’s what your health care provider might ask you.
- Have you had headaches or blurred vision recently?
- When did you first observe your symptoms?
- Is your blood pressure usually high?
- Did you suffer from postpartum preeclampsia with a previous pregnancy?
- Have you experienced any other complications during your previous pregnancy?
- Do you suffer from other conditions?
- Do you often suffer from headaches or migraines?
Pay Attention to Your Health
Postpartum preeclampsia is a serious condition. Fortunately, you can successfully recover from this condition with proper care and treatment.
No doubt, taking care of your newborn is important. But your health is important too. So, you should also pay attention to your own health. If you notice symptoms and signs of postpartum preeclampsia, visit your health care provider right away.
You should also reach out to your family and close friends for support during this time. If you have any questions about your condition, you should discuss them with your health care provider.
Do you have postpartum preeclampsia? How was it diagnosed and how has it affected you? Let us know in the comment section.
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