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Pre-eclampsia And Eclampsia


Preeclampsia (toxemia) and eclampsia are conditions that can develop during week 20 or later of your pregnancy. With preeclampsia, you have high blood pressure and protein in your urine. Preeclampsia progresses to eclampsia if you have a seizure. This does not include women with a known seizure disorder. These conditions can create mild to life-threatening health problems for you and your unborn baby.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.


Preeclampsia and eclampsia can create serious health problems for you and your unborn baby. Your baby may not grow as he should and may need to be delivered early. Placental abruption can occur if the placenta pulls away from the uterus too soon. This condition is life-threatening for your baby. High blood pressure that is not controlled can lead to blood clots, kidney or liver failure, or stroke in the mother. Severe forms of preeclampsia cause seizures or coma. Preeclampsia and eclampsia can sometimes develop up to 30 days after birth, and the risk is highest 1 to 2 days after delivery.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.


is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.

Vital signs:

Healthcare providers will check your heart rate, breathing rate, and temperature. They will check your blood pressure often to watch for changes. These vital signs give healthcare providers information about your current health.

You may need extra oxygen

if your blood oxygen level is lower than it should be. You may get oxygen through a mask placed over your nose and mouth or through small tubes placed in your nostrils. Ask your healthcare provider before you take off the mask or oxygen tubing.

Intake and output:

Healthcare providers will keep track of the amount of liquid you get. They also may need to know how much you urinate. Ask healthcare providers if they need to measure or collect your urine.

Padded bed rails:

Healthcare providers will pad the side rails of the hospital bed to protect you in case you have a seizure.


Healthcare providers may want you to stay in bed. Try to lie on your left side. Ask your healthcare provider about activities you can and cannot do.


  • Blood pressure medicine: This medicine helps lower your blood pressure to protect your heart, lungs, brain, kidneys, and unborn baby.

  • Magnesium sulfate: This medicine prevents seizures. This medicine is usually given through an IV.

  • Steroids: This medicine is given 12 to 24 hours before your baby is delivered if he needs to be born early. The medicine helps your baby's lungs develop.


  • Blood tests: Blood tests are done to check the function of your liver and kidneys. The blood can be taken from a blood vessel in your hand, arm, or the bend in your elbow. You will need blood tests more than once.

  • Urine test: Healthcare providers collect a urine sample to test for protein.

  • Reflexes: Healthcare providers may check your deep tendon reflexes (DTRs). DTRs are done to check your nervous system. A soft rubber hammer is tapped on different tendons (tissue that attaches muscle to bone), such in your elbow or knee.

Fetal monitoring:

  • External fetal heart monitoring: Caregivers may use this to monitor your baby's heartbeat, and the contractions of your uterus. A small metal disc (monitor) with gel on it is placed on your abdomen. A belt will be fastened around your waist to hold the monitor in place. The monitor may need to be moved as your baby moves inside you. It may also be put on and taken off, or left in place. The monitor is attached to a machine with a TV-type screen, or a printer. The screen or the paper print out shows a tracing of your uterus contracting, and the baby's heartbeat.

  • Nonstress test (NST): This test is a simple way for your caregiver to check how your baby is doing. It uses a fetal heart monitor to watch your baby's heart rate. A baby's heart rate usually increases when he moves around or when your uterus has a contraction. A contraction is when the muscles of your uterus tighten and loosen. You may sit in a reclining chair or with the head of your bed raised during this test. Your caregiver may ask you to stand up or move around during the test. You may need this test more than once.

  • Fetal ultrasound: This test uses sound waves to show pictures of your baby on a monitor. Healthcare providers can see the placenta and your baby's movement, heart rate, and position.

  • Amniotic fluid index: Healthcare providers use an ultrasound to measure the amniotic fluid around your unborn baby. Amniotic fluid cushions and protects your baby as he grows. Low amounts of amniotic fluid can limit his growth.

  • Umbilical cord Doppler: An umbilical cord Doppler test checks blood flow through the umbilical cord.


Preeclampsia and eclampsia usually end after your baby is born. Healthcare providers may deliver your baby right away if he is full-term. You may need to deliver your baby early if you or the baby has life-threatening symptoms.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Pre-eclampsia And Eclampsia (Inpatient Care)