Gestational hypertension, or otherwise uncomplicated high blood pressure of pregnancy occurring after 20 weeks of gestation, appears in up to 10 percent of pregnancies. When high blood pressure in pregnancy is accompanied by proteinuria (protein in the urine) and edema (swelling), it is known as preeclampsia. Symptoms of preeclampsia include:
High blood pressure (140/90 or higher)
Excessive swelling of hands and/or feet
Sudden weight gain
Protein in the urine
Abdominal pain (usually on the upper right side)
Preeclampsia typically happens in the third trimester. If characterized as mild, it may be controlled by bed rest, medication, and careful monitoring of the fetus. Hospitalization may be required. If the pregnancy has reached week 37, delivery may be induced or performed via C-section to avoid further risk.
If the preeclampsia worsens or is severe, delivery may be required earlier than week 37. In some cases seizures may develop, which indicates that preeclampsia has progressed to eclampsia. Eclampsia is rare but potentially life-threatening, and your physician will weigh the risks and benefits to you and your baby when deciding when delivery is right in preterm pregnancies.