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Eclampsia in Pregnancy: What Should You Watch Out For?

Medically reviewed by Mary Rani Cadiz, MD · Obstetrics and Gynecology

Written by Kristel Lagorza · Updated Jan 25, 2021

Eclampsia in Pregnancy: What Should You Watch Out For?

Pregnancy complications are what most expectant mothers wish to avoid. And of these, one of the most concerning is eclampsia. Learn more about eclampsia in pregnancy and why you should medical attention immediately for this condition. 

What is Preeclampsia?

Preeclampsia is one of the pregnancy-related hypertensive disorders. When an expectant mother has preeclampsia, the common findings are:

  • High blood pressure
  • Protein in the urine
  • Swelling of the hands, feet, legs, and sometimes entire body

If preeclampsia is not treated immediately, eclampsia may occur.  

Signs of Preeclampsia Mothers Should Watch Out For

What is Eclampsia?

Eclampsia occurs when preeclampsia worsens and affects the brain, leading to seizures and unexplained coma. A seizure is an abnormal electrical disturbance in the brain that causes abnormal movement and behavioral changes. 

Doctors consider eclampsia a medical emergency. The expectant mother is not the only one at risk, but the unborn baby as well.

Eclampsia occurs only in 1-2% of pregnancies. However, it can be fatal to both mother and child. It is important to address the concern immediately. 

Why Does Eclampsia Occur?

Eclampsia is more prevalent in young, first-time mothers, and it is easily detected in their case. Until now, the emergence of eclampsia is still unknown, but the causes of preeclampsia can be related to it. 

When the placenta fails to attach itself properly to the walls of the uterus, preeclampsia may occur. Other factors that may cause this abnormality, includes:

  •     Damaged blood vessels
  •     Certain genes of either the mother or the father
  •     Mother’s immunity
  •     Other conditions that the mother may have, such as high blood pressure or diabetes

Preeclampsia is diagnosed at 20 weeks of pregnancy and beyond and affects 2 to 8 out of 100 women. 

If you have more questions about what causes eclampsia, consult your doctor. 

How to Determine if You Have Eclampsia?

Since eclampsia is correlated with preeclampsia, you may experience some of the symptoms before a seizure episode:

  •     Edema or swelling of the hands, feet, legs, face; in some severe cases, the entire body
  •     Extreme headache
  •     Pain in the upper abdomen
  •     Change in vision like temporary blindness, blurred vision, and photophobia. These changes are only temporary and completely reversible.
  •     Nausea and/or vomiting
  •     Uterine pain

If you suffer from these, call your doctor right away, so you can receive immediate medical attention. If you need more information regarding the possible symptoms of eclampsia, do not hesitate to ask your doctor. 

How to Treat Eclampsia?

Eclampsia is a medical emergency that needs immediate care. Treatments for eclampsia must be done as soon as possible to stop the mother’s seizure, to regulate the high blood pressure, and to deliver the baby safely. 

The attending physician may give the mother magnesium sulfate to suppress ongoing seizures and to prevent future seizure episodes. Your doctor might also give hypertension medications to modulate blood pressure and a dose of labor drugs to help deliver the baby safely. 

Always remember to only take medications and receive treatments provided and prescribed by your trusted medical provider. 

What Are The Common 2nd Trimester Pregnancy Pains?

How to Prevent Eclampsia in Pregnancy?

To counteract the possible risks of having eclampsia, it is best to undergo a medical assessment to detect complications early on in the pregnancy. If you suffer from preeclampsia, have it treated as early as possible so it will not escalate to eclampsia. 

 Having regular check-ups, consistently taking prenatal medicines, and keeping a balanced diet during your pregnancy lessen the chances of acquiring complications like eclampsia. 

Key Takeaways

If you are pregnant, pay close attention to your overall health. This is to ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy journey for both you and your little one. 

For more information about eclampsia in pregnancy, seek advice from a medical professional.

Learn more about Being Pregnant here.


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Mary Rani Cadiz, MD

Obstetrics and Gynecology

Written by Kristel Lagorza · Updated Jan 25, 2021

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