Preeclampsia is a complication of pregnancy that can endanger both the mother and baby. It is characterized by increased blood pressure, protein in the mother’s urine and often by swelling. Preeclampsia can lead to seizures, stroke or other organ failure and can also put the baby at risk.
“Patients need to be aware of the symptoms of preeclampsia, which can include swelling, headaches, vision changes, nausea and vomiting,” says Naomi L. Wahl, MD, FACOG, perinatologist at Saint Francis Medical Center. “If some or all of these symptoms occur, you should contact your doctor.”
When patients develop preeclampsia, they are carefully monitored to determine when delivery is indicated. “If the disease is mild, most patients are closely followed and are often delivered around 37 weeks, or three weeks before the due date. However, if the disease is severe, patients may be required to deliver much earlier,” says Wahl.