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, or he or she might have you collect your urine for 24 hours so it can be tested for the total amount of protein.

More Information

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. Magnesium sulfate can help prevent seizures in women with postpartum preeclampsia who have severe signs and symptoms. 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 breastfeeding, it's generally considered safe to breastfeed while taking these medications. Ask your health care provider if you have any questions or you're not sure.

Preparing for your appointment

If you've recently given birth and you 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:

  • Make a list of symptoms you're having. Include detailed descriptions and include any symptoms that may seem unrelated.
  • 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.
  • Make a list of 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.

Basic questions to ask your health care provider may include:

  • How serious is my condition?
  • What are the treatment options?
  • What kinds of tests do I need?
  • Can I continue to breastfeed and care for my newborn?
  • 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?

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 usually 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?
Aug. 17, 2021
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  4. Redman EK, et al. Clinical course, associated factors, and blood pressure profile of delayed-onset postpartum preeclampsia. Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2019: doi:10.1097/AOG.0000000000003508.
  5. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Committee Opinion No. 692: Emergent therapy for acute-onset, severe hypertension during pregnancy and the postpartum period. Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2017; doi:10.1097/AOG.0000000000002019.
  6. Dipierto L, et al. Benefits of physical activity during pregnancy and postpartum: An umbrella review. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 2019; doi:10.1249/MSS.0000000000001941.
  7. Katsi V, et al. Postpartum hypertension. Current Hypertension Reports. 2020; doi:10.1007/s11906-020-01058-w.
  8. Powles K, et al. Postpartum hypertension. CMAJ. 2017; doi:10.1503/cmaj.160785.
  9. Giwa A, et al. Late onset postpartum preeclampsia 3 months after delivery. American Journal of Emergency Medicine. 2017; doi:10.1016/j.ajem.2017.07.024.
  10. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Practice Bulletin No. 222: Gestational hypertension and preeclampsia. Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2020; doi:10.1097/AOG.0000000000003891.
  11. Wick MJ (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic. May 14, 2021.

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