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Preeclampsia is a condition that can develop during week 20 or later of your pregnancy. Preeclampsia means you have high blood pressure and may have protein in your urine. Preeclampsia can cause 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.


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 preeclampsia may cause seizures or coma. This condition is called eclampsia. Eclampsia is a life-threatening condition for you and your unborn baby. 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.

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.


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 helps lower your blood pressure to protect your heart, lungs, brain, kidneys, and unborn baby.

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

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


  • Blood tests are done to check your liver and kidney function.

  • Urine tests are checked for protein.

Fetal monitoring:

  • External fetal heart monitoring is used to monitor your baby's heartbeat, and the contractions of your uterus. A small 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. A paper printout shows a tracing of your uterus contracting, and the baby's heartbeat.

  • A fetal ultrasound is used to check the placenta and your baby's movement, heart rate, and position.

  • An amniotic fluid index is used 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.

  • An umbilical cord Doppler is used to check blood flow through the umbilical cord.


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

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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.