Preeclampsia can develop gradually but often starts abruptly, after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Preeclampsia may range from mild to severe. If your blood pressure was normal before your pregnancy, signs and symptoms of preeclampsia may include:

  • High blood pressure (hypertension) — 140/90 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) or greater — documented on two occasions, at least six hours but no more than seven days apart
  • Excess protein in your urine (proteinuria)
  • Severe headaches
  • Changes in vision, including temporary loss of vision, blurred vision or light sensitivity
  • Upper abdominal pain, usually under your ribs on the right side
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Decreased urine output
  • Sudden weight gain, typically more than 2 pounds (0.9 kilogram) a week

Swelling (edema), particularly in your face and hands, often accompanies preeclampsia. Swelling isn't considered a reliable sign of preeclampsia, however, because it also occurs in many normal pregnancies.

When to see a doctor

Contact your doctor immediately or go to an emergency room if you have severe headaches, blurred vision or severe pain in your abdomen.

Because headaches, nausea, and aches and pains are common pregnancy complaints, it's difficult to know when new symptoms are simply part of being pregnant and when they may indicate a serious problem — especially if it's your first pregnancy. If you're concerned about your symptoms, contact your doctor.

Apr. 21, 2011