High blood pressure problems shortly after birth and late onset pre-eclampsia

Pre-eclampsia can still be a concern for several weeks after birth. Women can still have high blood pressure or go on to develop pre-eclampsia up to eight weeks after giving birth. For those who were ill during pregnancy, it can take a while for their health to return to normal and their blood pressure may need to be controlled by medication for some time. Women are monitored whilst recovering in hospital after giving birth, and usually have health checks after discharge. It is advised by doctors that women who have had pre-eclampsia see their GP on a yearly basis for health checks (see also section on future health).

Not everyone we interviewed was told about the risks of high blood pressure problems and pre-eclampsia after birth, and it could come as a shock. Some thought it should be flagged more clearly. Paige found out about the risks from a family friend who had experienced it herself. For Angela, the possibility got ‘stuck in my head’ and made her anxious.

Paige was readmitted to hospital for high blood pressure problems after she gave birth. She was given more information the second time she was discharged.

Age at interview 20

Gender Female

Age at diagnosis 19

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Dr Khan describes when women tend to get pre-eclampsia.

Gender Male

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Returning to hospital

Some of the women we spoke to needed to go back into hospital because of high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia after giving birth and being discharged home. Vicki was re-admitted after she began to feel unwell. Although she thought it was scary for her husband being told to ‘just follow the ambulance with the new baby’ when she was taken into hospital, the stay helped get her blood pressure back under control: ‘it kept going down when I was there [partly because] when you are in hospital, you have got your feet up and you are doing nothing’.

Vicki had high blood pressure a few days after giving birth and returning home with her baby.

Age at interview 36

Gender Female

Age at diagnosis 36

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Kate developed some pains by her ribs just before she was discharged from hospital. She was reluctant about being readmitted.

Age at interview 35

Gender Female

Age at diagnosis 34

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Postnatal care in hospital

Women we interviewed who had pre-eclampsia or HELLP syndrome in pregnancy sometimes stayed in hospital for longer than normal. Many had a caesarean section and...

Baby’s health soon after birth

If a woman develops severe pre-eclampsia or HELLP syndrome, her baby may need to be born early if continuing the pregnancy becomes too risky. But...