Postpartum Preeclampsia : Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

on April 10, 2017

There can be many complications that a woman experiences after childbirth. One of them is postpartum Preeclampsia. Here we will look at one of them – postpartum preeclampsia.

What is Postpartum Preeclempsia?

It is a rare condition that occurs when a woman experiences high blood pressure and excess protein in her urine post childbirth. This happens right after childbirth. It has been seen that most cases of postpartum Preeclempsia develops within the first 48 hours of childbirth.

That said, in some cases postpartum Preeclempsia can even develop up to six weeks after childbirth. This is known as late postpartum Preeclempsia.

It is a very serious condition and requires immediate medical attention. If left untreated, postpartum Preeclempsia can result in seizures and other life threatening complications.

What causes Postpartum Preeclempsia?

The causes of Preeclempsia occuring during pregnancy are not known for certain. Similarly the causes for postpartum Preeclempsia are also not well understood. It is believed that postpartum Preeclempsia is set into motion during the pregnancy. However, the symptoms do not occur till after childbirth.

Understanding Postpartum Preeclampsia - Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

What are the Symptoms of Postpartum Preeclempsia?

It may be difficult to detect postpartum Preeclempsia on your own. The mother is more likely to be concerned with recovering from childbirth and taking care of the baby. Most women who have been detected with postpartum Preeclempsia do not even show any of the signs during pregnancy.

The signs and symptoms of postpartum Preeclempsia are similar to those of Preeclempsia that occurs during pregnancy. These are likely to include:

  • High blood pressure. This can be as high as 140/90 millimeters of mercury — mm Hg. The normal blood pressure for everyone is 120/80 mm Hg. If you notice high blood pessure following childbirth contact your doctor immediately.
  • Excess protein in your urine (proteinuria). Your doctor is likely to order the test of a sample of your urine to see if there is any protein present in it.
  • Sudden, severe, and prolonged headaches right after childbirth. The cause for these headaches are not known. But if you experience persistent ones immediately after childbirth then inform your doctor. It maybe a sign of postpartum Preeclempsia.
  • Changes in vision, including temporary loss of vision, blurred vision or light sensitivity
  • Swelling or bloating of the face and limbs. If you notice swelling in your legs within 48 hours of childbirth it is a good idea to inform the same to your doctor immediately.
  • Upper abdominal pain, usually under the ribs on the right side. You may notice sharp pain in your stomach near the ribs. Report this type of pain, especially if it occurs right after childbirth, to your doctor
  • Nausea or vomitting. If you get severe nausea or vomiting within 72 hours after childbirth. It maybe due to postpartum Preeclempsia. It is especially alarming if it is accompanied by severe persistent headache and blurred vision
  • Decreased urination. If you have had your baby at the hospital the nurses and midwives keep a close watch on how much urine you pass after six hours of childbirth. If you are at home, try taking a warm bath or shower. If you are still unable to urinate it is advisable to contact your doctor
  • Sudden weight gain, typically more than 2 pounds (0.9 kilogram) a week

If you notice one or more of the above symptoms right after childbirth contact your doctor. Immediate medical attention is very important in the treatment of postpartum Preeclempsia.

How can Postpartum Preeclempsia be detected?

If you’ve already been discharged from the hospital after childbirth and your health care provider suspects that you have postpartum preeclampsia, you might need to be readmitted to the hospital.

Postpartum preeclampsia is usually diagnosed with lab tests:

  • Blood tests. These tests can determine how well your liver and kidneys are functioning and whether your blood has a normal number of platelets — the cells that help blood clot.
  • Your health care provider might test a sample of your urine to see if it contains protein.

Read also : 11 Common Pregnancy Complications You Should Know

What are the Risk Factors associated with Postpartum Preeclempsia?

Are you wondering whether you are likely to develop postpartum preeclempsia? Here are a few risk factors that are known to increase your risk of developing it. Remember that there has been limited research in the field and further enquiry is pending.

  • High obesity. If you are obese there is an increased possibility for you to develop postpartum preeclempsia.
  • High blood pressure during your most recent pregnancy (hypertensive disease). You’re at increased risk of postpartum preeclampsia if you developed high blood pressure after 20 weeks of pregnancy (gestational hypertension).
  • Pregnant women under the age of 20 years or over 40 years are more prone to having postpartum Preeclempsia
  • Family History. If your family (first degree relative) has a history of postpartum Preeclempsia or Preeclempsia, you are at a greater risk. If your mother or sibling has suffered from preeclempsia or postpartum preeclempsia, it is a good idea to have yourself checked for the symptoms soon after childbirth.
  • Having multiples. Having twins or more babies increases your risk of preeclampsia.

Recent research has also pointed to the role a father’s genes may have in an increased risk of preeclampsia.

How can Postpartum Preeclempsia be treated?

The good news is that when detected in time, postpartum preeclempsia can be treated and cured with proper medication. Your doctor is likely to prescribe medication for lowering your blood pressure and to prevent possible seizures.

Let’s have a look at the benefits of these medications.

Blood Pressure Medication: One of the most noteable symptoms of postpartum Preeclempsia is high blood pressure or hypertension. Medication can be prescribed by your doctor to help lower the dangerously high blood pressures to normal range.

Seizure Prevention Medication: An anticonvulsive medication, such as magnesium sulfate, can help prevent seizures. Magnesium sulfate is typically taken for 24 hours. After treatment with magnesium sulfate, your health care provider will closely monitor your blood pressure, urination and other symptoms.

It is generally considered to be safe to breast feed while under either or both of the above types of medication. However, if you still feel unsure, it is always best to ask your doctor about all possible side effects. It is also good to inform your doctor of any known allergies to any particular component in the medical composition.

How can I cope after Postpartum Preeclempsia?

The time after childbirth is usually a time full of emotional and physical upheavals. You are already coping with the physical and mental recovery from childbirth. In such a time being diagnosed with postpartum Preeclempsia can lead to additional stress.

A positive diagnosis for postpartum preeclempsia could mean a longer than anticipated stay at the hospital. Getting readmitted to the hospital right after childbirth can be an emotinally taxing time for any person.

In such a vulnerable and delicate state it is most important to have the support and care of your loved ones. Remember to cooperate fully and work with your doctor and caregivers to speed the recovery process. Don’t forget to embrace your new role as the mother of your baby. Performing all your motherly duties will keep you steady on the path to recovery.

Due to little research in the field, there is no known way of preventing postpartum preeclampsia. The best way is to be prepared with the knowledge of the signs and symptoms of postpartum Preeclampsia. If you feel you have any concerns with your health right after childbirth feel free to talk to your doctor.

Don’t worry about sounding paranoid, your doctor is prepared for all questions and he or she should be able to help you out adequately. In any case they can help diagnose the symptoms and point out if you indeed do have a case of postpartum preeclempsia.

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