Managing your preeclampsia

If you’ve been diagnosed with preeclampsia, you might be wondering what your road to giving birth will look like. Management of preeclampsia can vary, because it depends on factors like how early in pregnancy the diagnosis is made and how severe the condition is. No matter where you are in your preeclampsia journey, there are some things that you’ll want to know about the rest of your pregnancy.

Prenatal care is essential

This goes for all those with preeclampsia because prenatal care is one of the most important factors that will increase the chances for a healthy birth and will protect an infant’s wellbeing. Good prenatal care includes early detection of the condition, close monitoring of your health, help in managing the symptoms, and testing for fetal wellbeing.

You’ll be monitored closely

Once diagnosed, some people are able to stay at home while others need inpatient hospital admission. The severity of your condition, your ability to care for yourself at home, and your provider’s preferences all play a role in this decision. If you aren’t hospitalized, you’ll have to record a daily kick count for your baby, monitor blood pressure at least twice every day, reduce physical activity, and keep scheduled OB appointments.

You might be prescribed medication

While the only ‘cure’ for preeclampsia is giving birth, you might be prescribed medication to manage certain aspects of your condition or to prolong the pregnancy. Some of the most common medications are:

  • Antihypertensive medications which help manage high blood pressure. Some anti-hypertensive medications aren’t safe to use during pregnancy, and others have side effects that make them contraindicated (not recommended during pregnancy), so you’ll want to make sure that any antihypertensive medication you take is only through a healthcare provider’s prescription.
  • Corticosteroids are often prescribed to people with preeclampsia who are likely to have their babies early. These shots help accelerate fetal lung maturation and development to reduce the risk of respiratory distress when the baby is born.
  • Seizure-prevention medication is for people who have been admitted to the hospital and who are at high risk of eclampsia (seizures). Magnesium sulfate may be administered prenatally, during labor, or postpartum because it reduces the risk of these seizures.

Your birth plan might change

Your birth preferences are still very important to you and your team after your diagnosis. For safety reasons, if you’ve been planning a birth center or home birth, changing to a hospital birth is recommended. Often having preeclampsia means you may need to be induced or even schedule a cesarean before your due date. Preparing a birth plan can help your team know what’s most important to you and give you time to talk about what your care and your baby’s care may look like after giving birth.

It’s okay to feel scared or to want more emotional support

Upon getting pregnant, many people imagine their pregnancy and birth experience going a certain way. Unfortunately, being diagnosed with preeclampsia can change this plan, which can be shocking or scary. If you find yourself worrying excessively about the health of your pregnancy, or if you’re still confused about treatment or any of the risks involved, don’t hesitate to ask your healthcare provider for more information, and definitely reach out to a partner, family member, or a friend, if you’re having a hard time taking your mind off the situation.

For more support resources, you can check out the Preeclampsia Foundation at or connect with PSI counselors experienced with preeclampsia at

Want to help other women with preeclampsia? The Preeclampsia Registry provides approved researchers with access to “de-identified” health information – information that does not contain participant names or contact information. This helps researchers to find patterns among preeclampsia survivors that can lead to findings and further studies. Researchers may also pose new questions to a large and willing audience, a strategy that usually takes much longer without a registry.

The Preeclampsia Registry also gives its participants the option of learning about other research studies for which they may qualify, and provides them with the means of connecting with these researchers.

Most importantly, patient registries unite the patient voice with clinical research. Patients have questions, theories, and interests that are often different from investigators conducting formal research. By engaging patients in the research process, as we can through patient registries, the chances for discovery and improvement are an even greater possibility.

For more information about patient registries, visit        

To learn more about The Preeclampsia Registry, go to

Learn more

  • Lelia Duley, et al. “Management of pre-eclampsia.” BMJ. 332(7539). Web. Feb 2006.
  • Lana K Wagner. “Diagnosis and Management of Preeclampsia.” Am Fam Physician. 70(12):2317-2324. Web. Dec 15 2004.
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