Sunday, 17 February 2013



How is Pre-eclampsia treated?

If you are diagnosed with pre-eclampsia during your pregnancy, you will be classed as high risk and will need a full assessment by an Obstetrician. You may need to be admitted to hospital for this assessment.

Tests will be performed to check on the well being of you and your baby during this time. Your baby will be monitored on a CTG machine that records your baby’s heartbeat.

You will need your blood pressure monitoring regularly and also several blood tests to determine the severity of the illness and if it is affecting your internal organs.

Because it is known that delivery of the placenta is the only cure for pre-eclampsia, a plan will be made on when it is the best time to deliver your baby.

Factors of this plan will include:

  • The severity of the illness and the affect it is having on yours and your baby’s health
  • The maturity of your baby and the affects the immaturity will have should it be delivered
Until your baby is born there are treatments that will be considered.

  • You may be given medication to reduce your blood pressure to allow your pregnancy to continue a little further and also to stabilise you prior to delivery.
  • 2-4 injections of steroids may be administered which will help to mature your baby’s lungs should it be under 34 – 36 weeks gestation.
  • You may be administered a drug called Magnesium Sulphate via an infusion as studies have proven that it roughly halves the incidence of eclampsia (fit or seizure).

Can pre-eclampsia be avoided?

Some women that are at risk of developing pre-eclampsia or who have suffered  with the disease previously, may be offered regular low dose aspirin in early pregnancy. Research has shown that this reduces the chance of developing pre-eclampsia and also lessens the chances of your baby being born prematurely or being growth retarded (small for dates).

It is important that you only take aspirin if it has been prescribed for you by an Obstetrician. There are also some recent studies that show that Calcium supplements may also have benefits in pre-eclampsia but again this should be prescribed by your Obstetrician.
Risks of developing pre-eclampsia in a future pregnancy

If you had pre-eclampsia in your first pregnancy you have somewhere between 1:2 and 1:8 chance of developing gestational high blood pressure in any future pregnancies. You have approximately a 1:6 chance of developing pre-eclampsia.

If your pre-eclampsia was severe or you had HELLP syndrome or suffered an Eclamptic fit where your baby had to be delivered before 34 weeks your risks are approximately 1:4.

If your baby had to be delivered before 28 weeks due to severity of the illness that risk increases to 1:2. Being obese also increases your chance of developing pre-eclampsia, therefore if you developed the illness in your first pregnancy it would be wise to try to reduce your BMI within the healthy range prior to becoming pregnant again.

Effects on future health

Research has shown that women who developed pre-eclampsia may have an increased risk of developing high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease in later life. Therefore to reduce your chances of suffering a stroke or heart disease you should look into ways to changing your lifestyle.

Things to look at may be, stopping smoking, increasing exercise and maintaining a healthy diet.

Further Reading

Hofmeyr GJ, Lawrie TA, Atallaj An etal;

Calcium supplementation during pregnancy for preventing hypertensive disorders. Cochrane Database System. Rev. 2010 Aug 4;8: CD001059 [abstract].

Please feel free to ask any questions relating to this any or any of my previous blogs. You can do this by leaving a comment on this blog or contacting me through my "confidential 1 to 1 live web chat" at

I will be available for online midwifery advice chats most evenings from 8pm (GMT) so click on the icon on the home page to access the web chat and 'Ask the Midwife'.
If you enjoy what you read on these blogs please like our
facebook page and follow us on Twitter or email us at


  1. I delivered my baby on August 31 and developed pre-eclampsia on September 5th. Until then, I had no idea it was something that could happen after delivery, and found the experience to be very scary due to lack of knowledge. I now know how rare of a situation it is, but still worry very much if we decide to have another, whether I will have it again.

  2. I had severe pre eclampsia in my little boy and went through an horrific time.
    I suffered severe hyper emesis from the start of my pregnancy and at around twenty weeks I began experiencing other pains and feeling ill and this went on right up until I was 34 weeks where I was finally diagnosed with pre eclampsia.
    I knew a little about it but was unsure of the severity of it.
    I had my little boy via an emergency section under ga.He was four weeks prem weighing 4lbs and 13oz and spent time in Scbu.I was later told by the consultant that the medication that they gave me can affect the baby's weight and growth and due to having a severe form of pre eclampsia I had to take a high dosage of it.I was shocked that this information hadn't been passed on to us before I went onto it, but it came to a point where the medication wasn't doing anything as the degree of pre eclampsia was so bad they decided to induce me.
    I was petrified through out the whole experience and it scared me off the idea of having another child.l have in recent times decided I am ok with the idea of it, its taken me three years, my son was three in December.

    1. I also hasten to add my son's heartbeat and foetal movements began to drop dramatically due to the pre eclampsia and I was in a lot of pain.
      I actually thought I was suffering from really bad heart burn from twenty weeks and due to having such bad sickness I thought it was normal.When I spoke to the Dr they agreed it was heart burn.Then after a severe bout of being in pain and literally crying as I couldn't cope I went into hospital and discussed all the pains etc with another consultant who told me that it was the pre eclampsia that caused the pain and I wasn't suffering heartburn.I was shocked that I had just been dismissed before as just being a bit over cautious because of everything else that was going on and the fact that I was in hospital constantly and it took that long to be diagnosed really makes you wonder are you just being to much of a worrier when in truth you are probably doing the right thing.


Many thanks for your coment