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Preeclampsia And Eclampsia, Ambulatory Care

Preeclampsia and eclampsia

are conditions that can develop during week 20 or later of your pregnancy. Preeclampsia means you have high blood pressure and protein in your urine. Preeclampsia progresses to eclampsia if you have a seizure. These conditions can create mild to life-threatening health problems for you and your unborn baby.

Common symptoms include the following:

  • Swollen face and hands
  • Weight gain of 2 or more pounds each week
  • Headache
  • Spotted or blurred vision
  • Pain in the upper abdomen

Call 911 for any of the following:

  • Seizure
  • Severe abdominal pain with nausea and vomiting

Seek care immediately for the following symptoms:

  • A severe headache that does not go away
  • Bleeding from your vagina
  • New or increased swelling in your face or hands
  • Urinating little or not at all

Seizure first aid:

You may have seizures with eclampsia. You may feel confused, tense, or aggressive when the seizure ends. Tell your family, friends, or coworkers to do the following if you have a seizure:

  • Clear the area to help prevent injuries from falls
  • Place you on your left side so you do not choke
  • Give oxygen if it is available
  • Call 911
  • Stay with you until medical help arrives

Treatment for preeclampsia and eclampsia

may include any of the following:

  • Medicines may be given to lower your blood pressure, protect your organs, or prevent seizures. Low doses of aspirin after 12 weeks of pregnancy may be recommended if you are at high risk for preeclampsia. Aspirin may help prevent preeclampsia or problems that can happen from preeclampsia. Do not take aspirin unless directed by your healthcare provider.
  • Rest as directed. Your healthcare provider may tell you to rest more often if you have mild symptoms of preeclampsia. Lie on your left side as often as you can. You may need complete bedrest if you have more severe symptoms. You may need to be in the hospital if your condition worsens.
  • Delivery usually stops preeclampsia and eclampsia. Healthcare providers may deliver your baby right away if he is full-term (37 weeks or more). You may need to deliver your baby early if you or the baby has life-threatening symptoms.

Blood pressure checks:

You may need to check your blood pressure each day. Your obstetrician will teach you how to check your blood pressure at home. Measure your blood pressure on the same arm and in the same position each time. Write down the date and time you take your blood pressure, and bring your notes to your prenatal visits.

Kick counts:

You may need to keep track of how often your baby moves or kicks over a certain amount of time. Ask your obstetrician how to do kick counts and how often to do them.

Daily weight:

Weigh yourself every day before breakfast. Weight gain can be a sign of extra fluid in your body. Call your obstetrician if you have gained 2 or more pounds in a week.


Your obstetrician may tell you to rest more often if you have mild symptoms of preeclampsia. You may need total bedrest for more severe symptoms. Try to lie on your left side.

Follow up with your obstetrician as directed:

You will need tests 1 to 2 times a week to check your condition. Tests include blood pressure checks, urine and blood tests, and fetal monitoring. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Care Agreement

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. 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.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

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Associated drugs

Micromedex® Care Notes