Preeclampsia can lead to eclampsia, a serious condition that can put you and your baby at risk, and in rare cases, cause death. Pre-eclampsia is related to abnormal blood pressure. Women who develop pre-eclampsia have high blood pressure, swelling. If untreated it can lead to serious complications. Preeclamptic women will have a high level of protein in their urine and often also have swelling in the feet, legs, and hands. This condition usually appears late in pregnancy, generally after the 20-week mark, although it can occur earlier.

There’s no way to cure preeclampsia, and that can be a scary prospect for soon to be moms. But don’t worry, you can help protect yourself by learning the symptoms of preeclampsia and by seeing your doctor for regular prenatal care. When detected preeclampsia, it’s easier to manage.

What Causes Preeclampsia?

The condition is a result of a placenta that doesn’t function properly. Though precise reason is unknown, genetics plays a role.

Who Is at Risk for Preeclampsia?

Often seen in first-time pregnancies, in pregnant teens, and in pregnant women over 40. While it is defined as occurring in women have never had high blood pressure before, other risk factors include:

A history of high blood pressure prior to pregnancy

A history of preeclampsia

Having a mother or sister who had preeclampsia

A history of obesity

Carrying more than one baby

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Preeclampsia?

Swelling, protein in the urine, and high blood pressure, preeclampsia symptoms can include:

Rapid weight gain caused by a significant increase in bodily fluid

Abdominal pain

Severe headaches

Change in reflexes

Reduced urine or no urine output


Excessive vomiting and nausea

Sudden and new swelling in your face, hands, and eyes (some feet and ankle swelling is normal during pregnancy.)

Blood pressure greater than 140/90.

Sudden weight gain within 1 or 2 days

Abdominal pain, especially in the upper right side

Severe headaches

What Is the Treatment for Preeclampsia and Eclampsia?

The only cure for preeclampsia and eclampsia is to deliver your baby. If your baby has developed enough, usually by 37 weeks or later, your doctor may want to induce labor or perform a cesarean section. This is will keep preeclampsia from getting worse. If your baby is not close to term, you and your doctor may be able to treat preeclampsia until your baby has developed enough to be safely delivered. The closer the birth is to your due date, the better for your baby.

Treating pre-eclampsia

Bed rest either at home or in the hospital; you’ll be asked to rest mostly on your left side.

Careful observation with a fetal heart rate monitor and frequent ultrasounds

Medicines to lower your blood pressure

Blood and urine tests

Monitoring fluid intake and urine output