Check the mother’s body
• D rink a lot of liquid. Have the woman drink plenty of
clean water, herb teas, soups, or other healthy fluids.
• A void very salty foods. A little salt is fine, but women
with high blood pressure should avoid foods with a
lot of salt like potato chips, salted nuts, or processed
Check for signs of pre-eclampsia (toxemia of pregnancy)
Pre-eclampsia is a very dangerous problem that can happen in late pregnancy,
during labor, or in the few days after a woman has a baby. It can lead to
convulsions (eclampsia) and even death.
Healthy signs Normal blood pressure.
Wa r nin g sig ns The 2 most sure signs of pre-eclampsia are:
• high blood pressure (140/90 or higher).
• protein in the urine (see page 126).
If a woman has both of these signs, she already has pre-eclampsia and needs
medical help right away.
If she has high blood pressure and any of these signs of pre-eclampsia, she
probably has pre-eclampsia — and you should get medical help:
• Strong headaches.
• Vision changes such as spots, blurriness, or double vision.
• Steady, severe pain in the top of the belly or the right side
just under the ribs. It may feel like acid indigestion.
If you think the pain may be caused by indigestion, you
can give an antacid. If the pain does not get better in
20 minutes, it is a danger sign.
• Overactive reflexes. Check the foot for overactive reflexes:
Have the woman lie down and
hold her foot like this. Give a
sharp push, then let go.
If the foot jerks 2 times or
more, it is a danger sign.
Get medical help immediately if you also see any of these signs:
• Baby seems too small. Your measurements of her womb show the baby’s
growth is too slow.
• Little urine. She is drinking enough liquid but making only a little urine.
• Trouble breathing, or wet-sounding lungs.
A Book for Midwives (2010)