Warning Signs

Warning signs of severe preeclampsia include:

  • severe headaches;
  • blurred vision or seeing spots;
  • loss of appetite;
  • nausea or vomiting;
  • pain in right, upper abdomen;
  • jaundice (yellow skin or sclera);
  • bloody or tea-colored urine; and
  • pain in uterus or vaginal bleeding.

Contact your doctor immediately if you have any of these symptoms.

Preeclampsia describes a patient with elevated blood pressure in the presence of proteinuria (protein in the urine). Twenty-five percent of women diagnosed with hypertension before their 37th week of pregnancy develop preeclampsia before giving birth. Gestational hypertension and preeclampsia are separate disorders, however. The development of hypertension during pregnancy may be an indication of preeclampsia and should not be assumed a benign, transient condition. Preeclampsia affects many of the body's organs and can cause various symptoms. It is characterized as mild or severe based on how elevated your blood pressure is, the amount of protein in your urine, symptoms such as headaches or changes in your vision, and growth restriction of the baby .

Management of gestational hypertension involves close monitoring of both you and your baby. Gestational hypertension alone usually does not compromise your pregnancy; it does, however, increase your risk of developing preeclampsia and eclampsia. Women with gestational hypertension are encouraged to have more frequent prenatal visits, which should include:

  • blood pressure monitoring;
  • blood tests;
  • liver function tests;
  • tests for proteinuria (protein in the urine) or thrombocytopenia (decreased platelet count); and
  • fetal growth monitoring.

If you have gestational hypertension, you will likely have a normal (or spontaneous) labor and delivery. Most babies of women with gestational hypertension are delivered vaginally. During labor and delivery, your doctor monitors your blood pressure to ensure that hypertension does not worsen.

However, gestational hypertension is also associated with complications during labor and delivery such as preeclampsia. If you develop preeclampsia or your baby is receiving reduced oxygen due to your hypertension, you may have an induced labor or caesarean delivery.

If the hypertension is truly gestational, your blood pressure levels return to pre-pregnancy levels after delivery. If the hypertension does not resolve within 12 weeks of delivery, you may have chronic hypertension. Your blood pressure will be tested during follow-up visits with your doctor.

Depending on the severity of your hypertension, your doctor may encourage you to limit your activity and get plenty of rest.

If your pregnancy proceeds without complication, you usually deliver close to term.