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Coronavirus: Be responsible. Be safe

Health information and advice to stop the spread of coronavirus


High blood pressure in pregnancy and pre-eclampsia

You may not have any symptoms if you have high blood pressure during your pregnancy.

This is why it is so important to attend all of your scheduled antenatal care appointments.

Your GP or obstetrician will diagnose high blood pressure if you have two or more blood pressure readings of 140/90 or higher.

Symptoms of pre-eclampsia

The main symptoms of pre-eclampsia are:

  • high blood pressure
  • excessive protein levels in your urine (wee)

Excessive protein levels in urine is known as proteinuria. Your GP, obstetrician or midwife will test your urine to see if you have proteinuria.

Other symptoms and signs include:

  • severe headache
  • changes in vision including blurring, spots or flashing lights
  • pain in the upper part of your tummy, particularly on the right-hand side
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • shortness of breath
  • swelling of hands, feet, ankles, neck or face, particularly if it is sudden

Have your blood pressure checked urgently if you have any symptoms during pregnancy or in the first six weeks after birth. Contact your GP, midwife or obstetrician

Bring a sample of urine (wee) with you to the appointment, so the protein levels in your urine can be checked. Sometimes you may need to have blood tests done. This is to check for organ damage that can be caused by pre-eclampsia.

Who is most at risk of pre-eclampsia

There are things that can increase your chances of developing pre-eclampsia, such as:

  • having diabetes, high blood pressure or kidney disease before starting pregnancy
  • having developed the condition during a previous pregnancy

Other things that can slightly increase your chances of developing pre-eclampsia include:

  • having a family history of the condition
  • being over 40 years old
  • it having been at least 10 years since your last pregnancy
  • expecting multiple babies (twins or triplets)
  • having a body mass index (BMI) of 35 or over

If you have two or more of these together, then your chances are higher.

page last reviewed: 17/09/2018
next review due: 17/09/2021