Diagnosis

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.
  • Urinalysis. Your health care provider might test a sample of your urine to see if it contains protein.

Treatment

Postpartum preeclampsia may be treated with medication, including:

  • Medication to lower high blood pressure. If your blood pressure is dangerously high, your health care provider might prescribe a medication to lower your blood pressure (antihypertensive medication).
  • Medication to prevent seizures. 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.

If you're breast-feeding, it's generally considered safe to breast-feed while taking these medications. Ask your health care provider if you have any questions or you're not sure.

Coping and support

The postpartum period often brings physical discomfort as well as emotional ups and downs. If you're diagnosed with postpartum preeclampsia, you might need to stay in the hospital longer than you planned or be readmitted to the hospital. This can cause additional stress.

Lean on loved ones and other close contacts for support. Also, work with your health care provider to determine how you can safely manage your condition and your role as mother of a newborn.

Preparing for your appointment

If you've recently given birth and have any signs or symptoms of postpartum preeclampsia, contact your health care provider right away.

Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment, as well as what to expect from your health care provider.

What you can do

Before your appointment, you might want to:

  • Ask about pre-appointment restrictions. In most cases you'll be seen immediately. If that's not the case, ask whether you should restrict your activities while you wait for your appointment.
  • Find a loved one or friend who can join you for your appointment. Fear and anxiety might make it difficult to focus on what your health care provider says. Take someone along who can help you remember all the information.
  • Write down questions to ask your health care provider. That way, you won't forget anything important that you want to ask, and you can make the most of your time with your health care provider.

Below are some basic questions to ask your health care provider about postpartum preeclampsia.

  • How serious is my condition?
  • What are the treatment options?
  • What kinds of tests do I need?
  • Can I continue to do my usual activities?
  • How can I best manage other health conditions along with postpartum preeclampsia?
  • What signs or symptoms should prompt me to call you or go to the hospital?

In addition to the questions you've prepared, don't hesitate to ask other questions during your appointment.

What to expect from your doctor

Your health care provider is likely to ask you a number of questions, too. For example:

  • Have you had any unusual symptoms lately, such as blurred vision or headaches?
  • When did you first notice your signs or symptoms?
  • Do you normally have high blood pressure?
  • Did you experience preeclampsia or postpartum preeclampsia with any previous pregnancies?
  • Have you had any other complications during a previous pregnancy?
  • Do you have any other health conditions?
  • Do you have a history of headache or migraine?
March 21, 2015
References
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  2. August P, et al. Clinical features and diagnosis of preeclampsia. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 15, 2015.
  3. Clark TP. Late-onset postpartum preeclampsia: A case study. The Nurse Practitioner. 2014;39:34.
  4. Goldman L, et al. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Jan. 15, 2015.
  5. Magee LA, et al. Diagnosis, evaluation, and management of the Hypertensive Disorders of Pregnancy: Executive Summary. Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada. 2014;36:416.
  6. Marx JA, et al. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2014. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Jan. 15, 2015.
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  8. Wick MJ (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Jan. 27, 2015.