What happens after a preeclampsia diagnosis?

There are a lot of things that can be scary about the possibility of a preeclampsia diagnosis, and the possibility of being admitted to the hospital for as long as several weeks or months, right up until birth, can be a pretty big deal, too. So is a preeclampsia diagnosis a ticket into the hospital for a long stay? It depends.

Which women with preeclampsia are admitted to the hospital right away?

One of the big factors of whether or not women with preeclampsia are admitted to the hospital right away is the doctor’s policy regarding the severity of the condition. Normally women with more serious preeclampsia (higher blood pressure, abnormal laboratory testing, persistent symptoms) are admitted right away, but women with more moderate preeclampsia are advised to rest at home instead.

Other factors that affect whether or not women with preeclampsia are admitted to the hospital for the rest of their pregnancies include how close they live to the hospital, and whether they can reliably be monitored in an outpatient setting. Another factor is whether she has somebody around to take her to the hospital whenever is required.

Strict bed rest isn’t recommended anymore, but women with preeclampsia are recommended to decrease their activity, let go of many or most household tasks, get plenty of rest, and keep stress low. For some women, home is the perfect place to be able to do that, while for others, being admitted to the hospital is the best way to help them slow down a little.

Why are many women with preeclampsia admitted to the hospital on diagnosis?

Women who are admitted to the hospital after a preeclampsia diagnosis can be monitored by a medical staff much more closely than women who are resting at home and attending weekly prenatal appointments. This is important, because one of the trickiest parts of treating preeclampsia is balancing the baby’s need to gestate for as long as possible with the mother’s growing difficulty carrying the baby. Many pregnancies complicated by preeclampsia end up coming to an end through labor induction, and round-the-clock monitoring at the hospital can be helpful in figuring out the right time to induce.

Another important reason why women are often admitted after a diagnosis is that preeclampsia is unpredictable and can change and worsen as quickly as a matter of hours, and women who don’t live right near the hospital may have trouble getting there as fast as they need to. Additionally, sometimes the first signs of preeclampsia worsening are subtle and may be more difficult to detect at home.

High blood pressure during pregnancy is no guarantee that preeclampsia is coming, but it can be a good idea to talk to your healthcare provider about what their policies are around preeclampsia diagnoses. No matter what though, in the end, your medical care will end up being centered around the specific concerns of your unique life and physical health.

  • “Preeclampsia and Hypertension in Pregnancy: Resource Overview.” ACOG.  American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 2017. Web.
  • Shivani Patel. “Preeclampsia can strike suddenly during pregnancy.” UTSWMedicine. The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Sep 29 2015. Web.
  • “FAQs.” Preeclampsia. Preeclampsia Foundation, Dec 20 2013. Web.
  • Mayo Clinic Staff. “Preeclampsia: Tests and diagnosis.” MayoClinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, Jul 3 2014. Web.
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