One of the scariest pregnancy complications that a mom can go through is having preeclampsia. It’s a whirlwind of emotions and if you had it as a first-time mom, it can be scary to consider having another child. If you had preeclampsia in your first pregnancy, should you be concerned about getting preeclampsia again?
Having preeclampsia in your first pregnancy can significantly increase your chances of having it in subsequent pregnancies. The severity and timing of when you were diagnosed, as well as other factors such as IVF treatments, developing hypertension or diabetes since your last pregnancy, and carrying multiples, can increase your likelihood.
Although preeclampsia is scary, it can be managed while under the care of your doctor. Keep reading to find out more about lowering your risk factors as well as what your doctor may recommend.
Table of Contents
Should you be scared to have another baby after preeclampsia?
It is perfectly natural to be scared to get pregnant again after having preeclampsia in your first pregnancy, especially if it was severe or your delivery was traumatic because of it.
Many women go on to have healthy pregnancies after having preeclampsia with their first so you should not let that alone be a deterrent from having another child. However, your risk of having preeclampsia increases if you had it in a previous pregnancy so it is important to discuss it with your doctor to decide if getting pregnant again is safe for you.
Mothers who developed preeclampsia during their first pregnancy are more likely to have it again during the next pregnancy – to the tune of about 20%, depending on your risk factors.
If your doctor recommends against having another child and you want to have another one, seek the advice of a maternal-fetal medicine physician before attempting to become pregnant to be sure if this is really the case.
If you do get pregnant again, the biggest issue may be trying to deal with your anxiety over developing preeclampsia again. Talk to your doctor about ways to keep calm and how they can work with you to ensure your anxiety and stress levels stay low.
A mom on a parenting forum on Facebook had severe preeclampsia with her first pregnancy, and the trauma from the birth affected her greatly: “I was so stressed about having preeclampsia again that during my second pregnancy my blood pressure would rise at every appointment. My doctors started taking my blood pressure at the end after we’d had a chance to talk so I could relax more. It helped!”
Can preeclampsia affect the second pregnancy?
You remember the trauma from your delivery with your first child, and the fear about what will happen next may get to you as you wonder how it will affect a second pregnancy.
Preeclampsia usually clears after you deliver your baby, although your doctor may continue to monitor your blood pressure for a few weeks after. Unless you had major complications, it will not affect conceiving another child, nor will it mean that you will have it again, but it does increase your chances.
Having preeclampsia in one pregnancy does not automatically mean you will have it in a subsequent pregnancy. It is important to consult with your obstetrician on what your plan is for subsequent pregnancies as well as ensuring your blood pressure is back to normal before getting pregnant again.
There is nothing you can do that will definitely prevent you from getting preeclampsia, but there are preventative measures you can take though to lower your chances. For example, if you have other risk factors such as a history of high blood pressure or diabetes, your doctor may recommend getting both of these under control before trying to conceive again. Both of these will increase your chances of getting it.
How long should you wait to get pregnant after preeclampsia?
You’re now fully healed from your first baby and your blood pressure is back to normal. You want to try to conceive soon, but how long should you wait before attempting to get pregnant again?
While there is no way to fully prevent preeclampsia, having a smaller interval can increase your chances of getting it, as well as having a larger gap so you should space your pregnancies apart.
According to the Mayo Clinic, your chances of a repeat occurrence increase if your children are less than two years apart or if they are over ten years apart.
Again, spacing out your pregnancies is not a guarantee you won’t have it again, but it does help to lower your risk factors.
Is preeclampsia common in second pregnancies?
Many moms wonder if preeclampsia is common in second pregnancies if they had it in their first.
Having developed preeclampsia in the first pregnancy makes you more likely to have it during a subsequent pregnancy. Overall, one in five women will get it again, but the actual likelihood ranges from 5-80% depending on your risk factors. Fortunately, secondary occurrences tend to be less severe than the first pregnancy.
Risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing preeclampsia in your second pregnancy include:
- Twins (or other multiples)
- Chronic hypertension or diabetes (developed since the previous pregnancy)
Can you get preeclampsia in the second pregnancy but not the first?
Many women are concerned about having preeclampsia in a second pregnancy but didn’t have it in their first. Is this a possibility?
The risks of getting preeclampsia in a second pregnancy without having it in your first are relatively low. The majority of women who suffer from preeclampsia are first-time mothers, but there are factors that could increase your chances of having it such as age, health, and the interval between children.
There are increased risks for developing preeclampsia if the mother is over 35. Having a large gap in between children may also increase the risks. Having hypertension is also another factor, so it may be good to get your blood pressure under control if you develop an issue between pregnancies.
How to avoid preeclampsia during your second pregnancy
There is always a concern about having preeclampsia after having it in a previous pregnancy. Is there anything you can do to prevent getting it again?
There is no fool-proof way to prevent having preeclampsia a second time, but there are things you can do to reduce your risks of having it again. The best thing you can do is work with your doctor and go to all your appointments so your doctor can monitor you regularly.
One of the most common risk-reducing methods doctors recommend is for you to begin taking baby aspirin daily at the end of your first trimester. But do not start this on your own and be sure to discuss it with a healthcare professional.
You may also be told to start taking a calcium supplement since there is also a link between calcium deficiency and preeclampsia. Doctors are mixed on whether this truly helps or not, but it may be a way to reduce your risks. Again, be sure to discuss this with a healthcare professional before starting any supplements or medications.
If you are planning this pregnancy out and have a history of high blood pressure or diabetes, having them under control before trying to conceive is another way to reduce your risks of developing it a second time.
It is important to remember though that there isn’t any one thing you can do to prevent you from developing preeclampsia. These are all just reducing your risk factors.
Does exercise prevent preeclampsia?
Some women turn to diet and exercise as a way to possibly prevent preeclampsia, but does that work?
Nothing you do can fully prevent you from developing preeclampsia, but diet and exercise are a great way to reduce your risks of having it again.
Doing both of these things can help keep your weight gain on the lower end, again reducing your risk factors. These are also great ways to have a healthy pregnancy, so it does not hurt to do either.
Can stress cause preeclampsia?
Your stress level can definitely affect your pregnancy and your baby. But can it cause preeclampsia?
While stress is not a direct cause of preeclampsia, it can potentially be a contributing factor, and having high levels of stress over a long period of time during pregnancy can increase your chances of developing preeclampsia.
Although it may be easier said than done, try to keep your stress levels low during pregnancy. For the instances when it is impossible to, find a hobby or some kind of outlet to help release the stress. This will help keep you calm and keep both you and your baby healthy throughout your pregnancy.
By the way, I’ve put together a MEGA resource on the most common differences between the first and second pregnancy along with frequently asked questions! Check it out!