Preeclampsia, also called toxemia, is a problem that occurs in some women during pregnancy. It usually occurs in the second half of pregnancy. Symptoms include swelling, high blood pressure and protein in the urine.
Swelling alone doesn't necessarily mean you have preeclampsia. Some swelling is normal during pregnancy. For example, your rings or shoes might become too tight. Swelling is more serious if it doesn't go away after resting, if it's very obvious in your face and hands, or if it's a rapid weight gain of more than 5 pounds in a week.
Most women with preeclampsia deliver healthy babies.
If you have preeclampsia, delivery of the baby is the best way to protect both you and your baby. This isn't always possible, because the baby may be too little to live outside of the womb.
If delivery isn't possible yet, steps can be taken to manage the preeclampsia until the baby can be delivered. These steps include making your blood pressure drop, with bed rest or medicines, and keeping a close eye on you and your baby. In some cases, hospitalization may be necessary.
One way to control high blood pressure when you're not pregnant is to cut the amount of salt you eat. This isn't a good idea if you have high blood pressure during pregnancy. Your body needs salt to keep up the flow of fluid in your body, so you need a normal intake of salt. Your doctor will tell you how much salt to eat each day and how much water you should drink each day.
Your doctor might tell you to take aspirin or extra calcium to prevent preeclampsia. Your doctor might also tell you to lie on your left side while you are resting, to increase the flow of urine and take weight off your large blood vessels. Many doctors give magnesium sulfate to their patients during labor and for a few days afterward, to help prevent eclampsia.
You and your doctor may choose how to deliver your baby if and early delivery becomes necessary. A cesarean section (an operation to deliver the baby) is more likely if your health or your baby's health is in danger. If things aren't this serious, your doctor may induce labor (with a drug called pitocin), and you can deliver your baby vaginally.
Signs and Symptoms:
Call your doctor immediately if:
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