Postpartum eclampsia refers to the life-threatening seizures a woman experiences during postpartum preeclampsia that can permanently damage her organs and result in coma if not treated immediately, according to Mayo Clinic. Symptoms of postpartum preeclampsia that usually develop within 48 hours of childbirth include high blood pressure, large amounts of protein in the urine, vision changes, upper abdominal pain and vomiting. A woman might also experience severe headaches, swelling in the face or limbs, and sudden weight gain.
Nearly 80 percent of women who die from preeclampsia die after the birth, and some women do not exhibit preeclampsia symptoms until delivery, during the 48 hours after, or up to six weeks later, reports the Preeclampsia Foundation. Late postpartum preeclampsia refers to the onset at six weeks, explains Mayo Clinic. In addition to seizures, complications of postpartum preeclampsia include stoke, pulmonary edema, thromboembolism and HELLP syndrome. The woman also has a higher risk for heart disease later in life.
As of 2015, the exact causes of postpartum preeclampsia are unknown, but researchers believe obesity, a family history of preeclampsia and delivering a multiple birth are possible risk factors, notes Mayo Clinic. Women who developed gestational hypertension in their most recent pregnancies, women under 20 years of age and women over 40 are at greater risk for preeclampsia. Studies indicate that the father’s genes may also have an impact on higher risks for preeclampsia.