After any birth, most mothers will experience a slight increase in blood pressure. In most cases, it returns to normal on its own. However, in some cases, it doesn’t, and if this happens, it could turn into a life-threatening situation. According to a recent study from The Obstetrician and Gynecologist, the risk of this happening is highest for mothers that were diagnosed with preeclampsia during their pregnancy.
For their review, researchers analyzed the outcomes of women who were readmitted to the hospital during their postnatal period (up to 24 days after birth). All of these women had been diagnosed with preeclampsia during their pregnancy. During that postnatal analysis, 16% were diagnosed with eclampsia, 9% with pulmonary edema (fluid build-up in the lungs), and one mother died.
NICE recently published postpartum care guidelines stating that blood pressure should be measured within six hours of delivery. However, most women with uncomplicated pregnancies are discharged within 24 hours after birth. Because of the heightened risk for women diagnosed with preeclampsia during their pregnancies, researchers on the recently published study say that the monitoring for these women should be extended to a full 72 hours.
In addition to the extended monitoring hours in hospital, researchers said that hospital and community teams should provide monitoring systems to women at risk during the postpartum healing period. What’s more, women should be educated on the symptoms of postpartum hypertension so they can seek professional help if needed.
“There is little evidence to guide clinicians treating postpartum hypertension. Poorly managed postpartum hypertension frequently causes unnecessary concern for the patient and her careers, delays discharge from the hospital and will occasionally place women at risk of significant complications,” Jason Waugh, co-author of the review and The Obstetrician and Gynecologist’s Editor-in-Chief told Medical News Today. “Women with preeclampsia should be encouraged to delay discharge and once they leave hospital the community midwife should monitor blood pressure for the first two weeks. This is then followed up at the six week postnatal visit. If symptoms persist there may be an underlying cause.”
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