Postpartum preeclampsia

Postpartum preeclampsia is a rare condition that occurs when a woman has high blood pressure and excess protein in her urine soon after childbirth.

Most cases of postpartum preeclampsia develop within 48 hours of childbirth. However, postpartum preeclampsia sometimes develops up to four to six weeks after childbirth. This is known as late postpartum preeclampsia.

Postpartum preeclampsia requires prompt treatment. Left untreated, postpartum preeclampsia can result in seizures and other serious complications.

Preeclampsia is a similar condition that develops during pregnancy and typically resolves with the birth the baby.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications Prevention

Postpartum preeclampsia can be difficult to detect on your own. Many women who experience postpartum preeclampsia show no signs or symptoms during pregnancy. Also, you might not suspect that anything is wrong when you're focused on recovering after childbirth and caring for a newborn.

Signs and symptoms of postpartum preeclampsia — which are typically similar to those of preeclampsia that occurs during pregnancy — might include:

  • High blood pressure (hypertension) — 140/90 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) or greater
  • Excess protein in your urine (proteinuria)
  • Severe headaches
  • Changes in vision, including temporary loss of vision, blurred vision or light sensitivity
  • Upper abdominal pain, usually under the ribs on the right side
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Decreased urination
  • Sudden weight gain, typically more than 2 pounds (0.9 kilogram) a week

If you have signs or symptoms of postpartum preeclampsia shortly after childbirth, contact your health care provider right away. Depending on the circumstances, you might need immediate medical care.

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