Preeclampsia is a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure. It usually begins after 20 weeks of pregnancy, but can also happen during labor or after delivery.

Overview and Symptoms

Preeclampsia affects 3-5% of pregnancies. In addition to high pressure, it can affect other parts of the body, including liver, kidneys, brain, eyes, placenta or blood clotting systems.

If preeclampsia is mild, a patient might not feel any particular symptoms. However, signs of severe preeclampsia can include visual changes like blurry vision or spots before the eyes, a bad headache, abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting. These are symptoms that you should notify your care team of immediately.


The cure for preeclampsia is delivery. If you develop preeclampsia before 37 weeks, we’ll try to give the baby more time to grow and develop, as long as the preeclampsia is mild. We admit patients with preeclampsia to the hospital, so we can monitor you and your baby closely until it is time to deliver.

For severe preeclampsia, we’ll deliver at 34 weeks or earlier if concerns arise. Most women with preeclampsia are able to have a vaginal delivery, although sometimes a cesarean section is necessary.

Maternal-Fetal Medicine

The Center for Maternal-Fetal Medicine at BIDMC provides extraordinary care for pregnancies with potential complications to mother or baby.

Learn More