Treatment of Preeclampsia in Pregnancy
Last Updated on November 2, 2020 by Ines
The primary goal of preeclampsia treatment is preventing complications in pregnant women and prolonging the pregnancy until the fetus is mature enough to give birth.
Only childbirth can resolve the mother’s symptoms of preeclampsia. In rare cases, can symptoms continue after birth and usually last up to 12 weeks after delivery. Some symptoms may be even severe and require further hospital treatment. But in most cases is everything back to normal soon after delivery.
Delivering the baby is the most effective treatment for preeclampsia.
The same applies to the baby. If pregnancy is far enough for the baby to mature and develop properly, she most likely won’t have any problems caused by preeclampsia as well.
However, if it is too early in your pregnancy, the delivery may not be the best thing for your baby. Possible complications for the baby are thus tied mostly to the time of birth.
To save at least the mother, in severe cases of preeclampsia, doctors must induce labor regardless of the gestational age. But in most cases, they manage to control the condition until the baby is mature enough.
What are the Treatments for Preeclampsia?
When treating preeclampsia in pregnant women who are 37 weeks pregnant or more, doctors usually decide to deliver the baby. The baby is fully developed, so birth is the best way to avoid further complications for the mother and child.
In those who develop preeclampsia before 37 weeks of gestation, healthcare providers consider one of the several different treatments for preeclampsia.
Doctors choose the best approach based on various factors:
- the severity of the condition
- how far along the pregnancy is
- what potential risks for the mother and fetus are
Treatment of preeclampsia strives to minimize the risk for pregnant women and prolong the pregnancy as far as possible. As the only cure for preeclampsia is birth, doctors are basically trying to manage preeclampsia as long as possible, to give the baby more time to develop.
Potential Treatments for Mild Preeclampsia
Women with mild preeclampsia have elevated blood pressure, without other signs and symptoms, such as headache, visual disturbance, pain, etc.
Usually, it is possible to wait until the delivery, with no further complications for the mother or child. But a pregnant woman must be closely monitored so that doctors can quickly determine if her condition is progressing.
- A pregnant woman diagnosed with preeclampsia need to come in for prenatal visits more frequently than others, usually once or twice a week. Healthcare providers check her blood pressure and conduct urine tests to assess protein levels. If necessary, they also perform blood tests where they assess platelet counts and liver enzymes.
- Of course, they also monitor the fetus, where tests may include heart rate monitoring, ultrasound, and assessment of fetal growth and amniotic fluid.
- However, it is advisable that she also monitors her condition at home. She should measure blood pressure and track how often the baby moves.
How to track baby movements? *
- Every day: You can count how long it takes for your baby to kick ten times. If it takes longer than 2 hours, talk with your healthcare provider.
- Three times a week: Count the number of kicks in 1 hour and compare it with the previous number. Tell your provider if the number decreases.
*Count the kicks at about the same time in the day.
Women with mild preeclampsia can usually stay at home.
Used to, bed rest was almost always the first recommendation for women with preeclampsia. But recent research hasn’t shown significant benefits of such practice. Therefore, most women with mild preeclampsia are now advised to rest, where it is not necessary to lie in bed all the time.
Your healthcare provider will determine which type of rest is best for you. However, if he does recommend bed rest, experts advise that it is better to spend more time lying on the left side.
A pregnant woman with preeclampsia should also avoid stress and consume a diet with less salt and fat. These measures may lower her blood pressure and increase blood flow to the placenta.
If the condition worsens, she might get medicine to lower blood pressure or be admitted to the hospital for close monitoring.
Treatments of severe preeclampsia
Women with severe preeclampsia need to stay in the hospital. Their blood pressure and protein levels in the urine are closely monitored, to immediately identify any progression of the disease. The part of the monitoring are also regular blood tests to check the woman’s organs, such as liver or kidney health.
Of course, they also carefully monitor the baby’s condition, where the most common are heart rate measurement and ultrasound.
Ultrasound shows the baby’s well-being. It enables growth measurements, breathing and movement monitoring, checking blood flow through the placenta, and determining the volume of amniotic fluid. (A decreased volume of amniotic fluid indicates a low blood supply to the baby.)
In severe cases of preeclampsia, where no treatment works, delivery is the only option to save the mother. A pregnant woman is at increased risk of seizures, placental abruption, stroke, and severe bleeding. Doctors must induce labor or schedule a C-section right away, regardless of the baby’s gestational age.
Medications for managing svere preeclampsia
Your doctors may prescribe one of the following medications:
Medications to lower blood pressure during preeclampsia:
Treatment of preeclampsia may include taking antihypertensives, which lowers the blood pressure if it is too high. There are more types of such medications, and only doctors can select and prescribe those who are safe for pregnant women.
Corticosteroids help prolong the pregnancy in severe preeclampsia:
Corticosteroids can help both mother and baby. They temporarily improve the liver and platelet function of pregnant women and helps the baby’s lungs become more mature in only 48 hours.
Anticonvulsant medications help prevent eclampsia:
By preventing the first seizure, anticonvulsant medication, such as magnesium sulfate, prevent severe preeclampsia from progression into eclampsia.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The only cure for preeclampsia is delivery. Treatment of preeclampsia can only manage the condition, prevent complications, and prolong pregnancy long enough for the baby to mature.
Once diagnosed with preeclampsia, pregnant women are closely monitored to prevent further complications. Depends on the severity of their condition, they are admitted to the hospital or advised to rest at home and attend prenatal care more frequently.
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