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Postpartum Preeclampsia: Yes, You're Still At Risk Even After Giving Birth

You’ve finally given birth and at last, you’ll soon be free from the struggles of pregnancy. However, there’s one condition you’re still at risk of: postpartum preeclampsia. This condition is characterised by high blood pressure and high protein levels in the urine. Although rare, this is a serious condition that mums and their families need to be wary of.

Risk factors and symptoms 

Postpartum preeclampsia develops from 48 hours to even up to six weeks after giving birth. Some risk factors that could lead to the condition post-delivery are:

  • Obesity
  • Having a family history of postpartum preeclampsia 
  • Having a history of preeclampsia in any of your previous pregnancies 
  • High blood pressure

Symptoms are almost similar with preeclampsia, making it easy to detect the condition:

  • High blood pressure
  • Proteinuria or high levels of protein in the urine
  • Nausea and severe headache
  • Lesser frequency of urinating
  • Abdominal and stomach pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weight gain

Prevention and treatment 

Preventing the condition requires familiarising yourself with the risk factors that can cause it. While there is no magic formula that can ensure prevention, knowing the symptoms is part of your postpartum care and can also help in detecting the condition early on. 

Remember that with a newborn in tow, you might be ignoring the signs because you’re busy attending to the needs of your little one. As soon as symptoms appear, make sure to consult with your doctor as this is a serious condition that can risk your life.

Diagnosing postpartum preeclampsia can be done through a blood pressure check, blood test, and urinalysis. Treatment may be in the following forms:

  • Blood pressure medication, which will help in managing your high blood pressure 
  • Anti-seizure medications which will help prevent seizures—a common risk for women who experience postpartum preeclampsia
  • Blood thinners to prevent blood clots

Treating postpartum preeclampsia is crucial as it may lead to even more serious health problems, such as the following:

  • Damage to the brain, liver, or kidney
  • Thromboembolism, which occurs when blood clot breaks into the blood vessels. This may potentially cause stroke or death 
  • HELLP (Hemolysis, Elevated Liver enzyme levels, and Low Platelet levels) Syndrome, a life-threatening condition, which destroys a person’s red blood cells
  • Pulmonary edema, which happens when a person has too much fluid in the lungs

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