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What is pre-eclampsia?

Pre-eclampsia FAQs

What is pre­eclampsia?

Pre-eclampsia is a condition that causes high blood pressure during pregnancy and after labour.

How many women are affected by preeclampsia?

Mild cases of this condition affect around 5% of pregnancies. 1-­2% of pregnancies are affected by more severe instances of pre-­eclampsia.

What are the early warning signs of pre­eclampsia?

Early indications of pre-­eclampsia include:

  • High blood pressure, also known as hypertension
  • Proteinuria – which is the term for when protein is present in your urine
  • Swollen feet
  • Swollen ankles
  • Swollen hands
  • Swollen face
  • Impaired vision
  • Bad headaches
  • Pain below the ribcage

Of course, some signs may be easily passed off as part of the experience of being pregnant, however, being aware of these tell-tale signs may help you to spot them earlier. As you go for your ante-­natal check­ups, your healthcare provider will pick up on these indicators, even if you don’t yourself. If pre-­eclampsia is untreated, it can potentially lead to serious problems for both you and your baby. The sooner pre-eclampsia is identified and monitored, of course, the better the prognosis is, in general, for Mum and baby.

Who is at higher risk of pre­eclampsia?

There are a variety of factors which may increase your odds of developing this condition during your pregnancy, such as:

  • Kidney disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Anti­phophlipid syndrome
  • Lupus
  • Being over 40 years of age
  • Having a pre­dispostion because of your family’s medical history
  • Your BMI (body mass index) is 35 or more
  • You are expecting twins or other sets of multiples

What happens if I have pre­eclampsia?

While in the hospital, you will be tracked carefully to discover how serious the problem is and whether a hospital stay is desired. This may typically be at around 37/­38 weeks of maternity, however, it might be before in more serious instances. At this point, labour can be started artificially or you can have a caesarean section. Medication can be employed to reduce your blood pressure level while you wait for your baby to be delivered.

What are pre­eclampsia treatment and outcomes?

The only cure for pre­eclampsia when it happens during pregnancy is to deliver the fetus. Treatment decisions have to take into consideration the seriousness of the illness and the possibility of maternal problems, how far along the pregnancy is, and the possible hazards to the fetus. Preferably, the healthcare provider will minimize hazards to the Mum while offering the fetus as much time as possible to develop before delivery. In case the baby is at 37 weeks or after, the healthcare provider will most likely want to deliver him to prevent any additional complications. In the case when the unborn baby is younger than 37 weeks, both Mum and her healthcare provider might want to think about other alternatives that give the foetus more time to develop, depending upon how serious the state is.

In case the pre­eclampsia is mild, it might be possible to wait longer before delivering the baby. To assist in preventing further complications, the healthcare provider might ask the Mum to go on bed rest. Close observation of both here and her foetus will be necessary. Evaluations for the Mum can include blood and urine checks to see if, and how, the pre­eclampsia is progressing. Evaluations for the foetus might include ultrasonography, heart rate tracking, evaluation of fetal development, and amniotic fluid evaluation. Anticonvulsive medication, like magnesium sulfate, could be utilized to prevent a seizure.

In several cases, like with severe pre­eclampsia, the mother to be will be admitted to a hospital so she can be tracked carefully. Treatment in the hospital can possibly include intravenous drugs in order to regulate blood pressure level and avoid seizures or alternative complications, as well as steroid shots to help hasten the evolution of the fetus’s lungs. When a female has severe preeclampsia, the physician will quite likely want to delivery the baby fetus as quickly as possible. Delivery normally is indicated if the pregnancy has continued more than 34 weeks. In cases when the foetus is less than 34 weeks, the physician will consider prescribing corticosteroids to help hasten the maturation of the lungs.

In several cases, the physician may be required to deliver the fetus prematurely, even when that indicates potential problems for the baby due to the potential risk of serious maternal complications. Most often, the symptoms and signs of pre­eclampsia will have vanished, six weeks or so after delivery.


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What Our Patients Say

Gráinne Macken

This is my second visit to Merrion Fetal, I was very pleased on both occasions. Lovely quiet waiting room, appointment was on time. The 20-week scan is very detailed we enjoyed watching our baby on the large TV screen. We got some beautiful photos. The nurse was very pleasant and talked us through all the measurements and anatomy. I would highly recommend this scanning clinic.”

Áine Gibney

I had the best experience at the Merrion Fetal Health clinic for my 20-week big scan. The staff were so friendly and so nice and the lovely lady who did my ultrasound scan was amazing. She was so thoroughgoing to absolutely everything and gave me such reassurance on how my baby was growing and developing. I would recommend any Mother to be to attend here if you are looking for a comfortable, reassuring and super pleasant experience.”

Linda O'Sullivan

Highly recommend! We had an early scan due to a little scare at the start of pregnancy and then another at 12 weeks to make sure all was good again. Helen who was scanning on both days was fantastic. We felt totally relaxed and un-rushed while she took her time finding the best angle of baby to get us the clearest pictures as keepsakes all while making sure everything was perfect with baby. She reassured us throughout and I can honestly say it was the best money we ever spent getting both scans done.

Please let Helen know we are 18 weeks now and flying along Highly recommend!



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All articles on the blog and website are intended as information only. Please do not consider any of the information provided here as a substitute for medical advice. At all times seek medical advice directly with your own doctor and medical team.


This website was formerly Merrion Fetal Health. The clinic has undergone a rebrand and is now known as Merrion Ultrasound.