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.
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. This 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). Preeclampsia 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.
In general, if you have 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 reduced activity. It is important to follow your health care provider's advice about resting.
If the preeclampsia becomes more 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.
Call your health care provider if you have any of these signs:
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, but your baby's blood cells can cross the placenta into your blood.
Your Rh negative blood 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 at 28 to 32 weeks of pregnancy, within 72 hours of giving birth to an Rh positive baby, or both.
If you have a health complication or high-risk pregnancy, your health care provider may suggest you reduce your activity. This is sometimes called bedrest, even though it doesn't mean just "lying in bed."
This can mean working less and spending at least half of each day with your feet up; being in bed, lying down or sitting up; or lying in bed or on the sofa, getting up only to go to the bathroom.
Ask your health care provider to be specific about the kind of reduced activity you need and what you can and cannot do.
Common reasons for reduced activity include:
Reduced activity will not cure any of these conditions but it can help manage them.
Reduced activity can bring major changes to your household. You will have to rely on your partner, family members, or friends to help you with shopping, meals, laundry, and getting ready for your baby. You may feel fine, making it hard to not be active. It may help to think about reduced activity as being one way to parent your baby right now. Each member of your family can take on new tasks to help your baby.
Tips to help you cope with being on reduced activity:
Call your health care provider right away if you have signs of preterm labor before 37 weeks of pregnancy:
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 week or longer after your due date. Your health care provider will monitor you and your baby during your office visits.
Your health care provider may:
Call your health care provider if you:
Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Beginnings: Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond, seventh edition, ob-ah-90026
Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts
If you are on reduced activity, your pregnancy is considered high-risk or both, your health care provider may want you to have home visits by an OB nurse.
The nurse will visit you in your home, monitor you and your baby as needed, and support you and your family during this time.
Talk with your health care provider to see if home visits are right for you.