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.
- Sometimes 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.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/16/2014
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