What is postpartum preeclampsia?

Postpartum preeclampsia is a rare condition that can occur after a woman has given birth. A woman with postpartum preeclampsia will have high blood pressure and high levels of protein in her urine.

Postpartum preeclampsia is related to preeclampsia, a condition that can occur during pregnancy. Pregnant woman with preeclampsia develop high levels of urine protein and high blood pressure.

Most women who develop postpartum preeclampsia do so within 48 hours of childbirth. However, the condition can develop as long as six weeks after childbirth.

Postpartum preeclampsia is a very serious condition. It can lead to strokes, seizures and other complications if not promptly treated. The causes of postpartum preeclampsia are not known.

What are risk factors for postpartum preeclampsia?

Certain risk factors can raise a woman’s chances of getting postpartum preeclampsia. These include:

  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure (hypertension) during pregnancy
  • Family history of postpartum preeclampsia
  • Being a young mother under age 20
  • Being an older mother above age 40
  • Having twins or multiple babies

What are the symptoms of postpartum preeclampsia?

There are several symptoms that women who have just given birth might experience if they have postpartum preeclampsia. These include:

  • High blood pressure, usually over 140/90
  • High levels of protein in an individual’s urine, called proteinuria
  • Headache, often severe
  • Changes in vision
  • Swelling of the face, hands, feet or limbs
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain, usually on the upper right side of the abdomen
  • Decreased urination
  • Blurred vision
  • Rapid weight gain

If you have recently given birth and are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should seek immediate medical care. Postpartum preeclampsia can have serious consequences if not treated.

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy