At each office visit, your health care provider will check your weight and blood pressure. This is done to check for signs of high blood pressure (known as pregnancy-induced hypertension) and the complication of preeclampsia.
Call your health care provider if you have any of these warning signs:
High blood pressure can cause problems for both you and your baby. When you have high blood pressure, your baby doesn't get enough oxygen and nutrients.
That can lead to your baby not growing well and being born too small. In addition, high blood pressure can damage your blood vessels and organs.
Preeclampsia is a condition in which you have high blood pressure, protein in your urine and swelling (edema). Although preeclampsia can be mild, it can quickly become more serious.
Untreated preeclampsia can lead to seizures (eclampsia); damage your blood vessels, nervous system and organs; and even cause death.
Untreated preeclampsia also puts your baby at risk for problems with the placenta and can cause death.
Blood tests are needed for your health care provider to make a diagnosis.
Call your health care provider if you have any of these signs:
Treatment for preeclampsia depends on whether it is mild or severe.
In general, if you have mild preeclampsia, you will have more visits with your health care provider and more tests to check on your baby's health. These tests include ultrasounds and fetal movement counts. You may also be put on bedrest (see below). It is important to follow your health care provider's advice about resting.
If the preeclampsia becomes severe, you may need to have home nursing services or stay in the hospital. The decision of when and how to deliver your baby depends on the risks to you and the health of your baby.
Red blood cells can contain a protein called Rh factor. Most people have this protein and are known as Rh positive. People who do not have Rh factor are known as Rh negative. A blood test can tell if you are Rh positive or Rh negative.
Problems can develop during pregnancy if you are Rh negative and your baby is Rh positive. During pregnancy you and your baby do not share blood. However, your baby's blood cells can cross the placenta into your blood.
Your Rh negative blood then reacts to your baby's Rh positive blood by making antibodies against your baby's blood. These antibodies can affect your baby by causing:
A blood test can tell if your body has made these antibodies against your baby's blood. If there are no antibodies, you can take a medicine (RhoGAM®) to prevent your blood from reacting against your baby's blood. RhoGAM is given as an injection (shot) in your arm. You may receive RhoGAM at 28 to 32 weeks of pregnancy and/or within 72 hours of giving birth to an Rh positive baby.
If you have a health complication or high-risk pregnancy, you may be put on bedrest.
This can mean:
Ask your health care provider to be specific about the kind of bedrest you need and what you can and cannot do.
Common reasons for bedrest and ways to cope while on bedrest
Your due date is only an estimate for when your baby is likely to be born. Most babies are born between 37 and 42 weeks. It is normal to give birth to your baby one to two weeks after your due date. Your health care provider will monitor you and your baby during your office visits.
Your health care provider may:
Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Beginnings: Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond, sixth edition, preg-ahc-90026, ISBN 1-931876-25-8
Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts
health care provider right away if you have signs of preterm
labor before 37 weeks of pregnancy: