What is the treatment for preeclampsia?
Preeclampsia has no cure except for delivery of the baby. However, delivery may not always be the best option at the time
preeclampsia is diagnosed. The treatment that the patient receives depends the severity (mild versus severe) of the associated symptoms and the stage of the pregnancy.
- The closer the patient is to her due date, the more likely the cervix will be ripe (ready for delivery), and that induction of labor will be successful. Sometimes medications are given to help induce labor.
- Earlier in pregnancy (24-34 weeks), there is less chance of a successful induction (although induction it is still possible). It is more common to have a cesarean delivery when
preeclampsia necessitates delivery early in pregnancy.
preeclampsia is too severe and/or the baby shows signs of compromise, such as decreased fetal heart rate, and thus an immediate cesarean delivery must be performed.
- If the disease is severe and the baby is premature, the patient may first be given a medication called betamethasone (a corticosteroid) to help mature the baby's lungs before the baby is delivered.
- If the disease is more severe and immediate delivery is not required, the patient may be admitted to the hospital for bed rest and closer observation of the patient and the baby.
- If the disease is mild, the patient is early in the third trimester, or both, she may be sent home for bed rest with close follow-up with the health care professional office.
- If the patient is at or near term (at least 37 weeks), expect either that labor will be induced or a cesarean delivery will be performed. The decision to induce labor or perform a cesarean delivery will be made by the obstetrician depending upon the patient's health, the baby's health, and the condition of the woman's cervix (which is a factor in whether induction of labor is likely to be successful).
- Also remember that a change in either the patient's condition or the baby's condition can occur quickly. If this happens, notify the health care professional immediately and expect management to change as well.
Can preeclampsia be cared for at home?
If preeclampsia is suspected during a pregnancy, do not try to self-diagnose and treat at home; see the obstetrician as soon as possible. If the doctor suggests home care, try to get help with household chores and assistance watching other children if the patient is sent home on bed rest. The doctor may recommend that the patient or caregiver take and record blood pressures at home and provide the patient with instructions if certain symptoms or blood pressure levels occur. If questions or problems occur, call the obstetrician.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/7/2015
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