May is Preeclampsia Awareness Month, which seeks to raise awareness about the disorder that occurs in women during pregnancy and the postpartum period. It is a rapidly progressive condition characterized by high blood pressure and usually the presence of protein in the urine. Swelling, sudden weight gain, headaches and changes in vision are important preeclampsia symptoms.
WSHA’s Safe Deliveries Roadmap “Maternity Watch” program is working to help hospital providers and staff identify early warning signs of potentially severe maternal events — like severe hypertension/preeclampsia and maternal hemorrhage — to reduce severe maternal morbidity and mortality.
Part of this program involves highlighting the need to educate patients of potential post-discharge warning signs and train providers and emergency room staff to properly recognize preeclampsia symptoms in postpartum women.
For this year’s Preeclampsia Awareness Month, the Preeclampsia Foundation seeks to debunk the common myth that delivery is the “cure” to preeclampsia. According to Creanga et al., 97 percent of maternal deaths related to preeclampsia and other hypertensive disorders happen in the first six weeks postpartum1.
Here are some facts about postpartum preeclampsia:
- Any woman can develop preeclampsia after her baby is born, whether she experienced high blood pressure during her pregnancy or not.
- For some women who experience preeclampsia during pregnancy, it doesn’t always go away after delivery.
- Preeclampsia may occur for the first time after delivery.
- The first week after birth is the most critical for moms (and providers) to stay alert for symptoms.
Please help spread awareness of postpartum preeclampsia with both your providers and with patients. The Preeclampsia Foundation has helpful infographics to share with women at time of discharge to educate them on the signs and symptoms of postpartum preeclampsia. The foundation also has an informative FAQ section. (Janine Reisinger)
1: Creanga, A. (2017). Pregnancy-Related Mortality in the United States, 2011-2013. Obstetrics & Gynecology, Page 6