Preeclampsia can also happen after you’ve given birth

Preeclampsia is a blood pressure condition that only happens during pregnancy and during the postpartum period. Women who have preeclampsia develop high blood pressure and may also have signs that some of her organs, like her kidneys and liver, may not be working normally. When preeclampsia happens shortly after having a baby, it is called postpartum preeclampsia.

Although postpartum preeclampsia is a rare condition, it is also very dangerous. Postpartum preeclampsia most often happens within 48 hours of having a baby, but it can develop up to 6 weeks after a baby’s birth. According to the Preeclampsia Foundation, postpartum preeclampsia can happen to any women, even those who didn’t have high blood pressure during their pregnancy. It can be even more dangerous than preeclampsia during pregnancy because it can be hard to identify.

After your baby is born, your attention is mostly focused on his needs. To identify the signs of postpartum preeclampsia you also need to make sure you are paying attention to your body and how you are feeling. Identifying the signs and symptoms of postpartum preeclampsia and getting help right away is extremely important. Postpartum preeclampsia needs to be treated immediately to avoid serious complications, including death.

Signs and symptoms of postpartum preeclampsia may include:

  • Changes in vision, like blurriness, flashing lights, seeing spots or being sensitive to light
  • Headache that doesn’t go away
  • Nausea (feeling sick to your stomach), vomiting or dizziness
  • Pain in the upper right belly area or in the shoulder
  • Swelling in the legs, hands or face
  • Trouble breathing
  • Decreased urination
  • High blood pressure (140/90 or higher)

What can you do?

  • Go to your postpartum checkup, even if you’re feeling fine.
  • Know how to identify the signs and symptoms of postpartum preeclampsia.
  • If you have any of the previous signs or symptoms, tell your provider right away. If you can’t talk to your provider right away, call the emergency services (911) or ask to be taken to an emergency room.

For more information visit marchofdimes.org

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