Reducing the risk of pre-eclampsia – Information for women taking aspirin in pregnancy

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Who is this leaflet for?
This leaflet is for women who have been advised to take aspirin during their pregnancy.

Why have I been advised to take aspirin?
Low dose aspirin has been shown to reduce the risk of getting pre-eclampsia in those whom are at risk of developing the condition.

What is pre-eclampsia?
Pre-eclampsia is a condition that typically develops after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

It is a combination of:
• High blood pressure (hypertension) &
• Protein in your urine (proteinuria)

How do I know if I am at risk of pre-eclampsia?
Pre-eclampsia can occur in any pregnancy but you are at higher risk if you have the following:

If you are at higher risk of getting preeclampsia, taking aspirin may help reduce complications.

How may pre-eclampsia affect me?
Sometimes pre eclampsia can make you feel unwell with headaches, changes in vision, abdominal pain, excessive swelling.

How may pre-eclampsia affect my baby?
Pre-eclampsia affects the development of the placenta (the after-birth) and its blood vessels. The placenta feeds your baby to help them grow. If the blood vessels supplying the placenta do not work properly then your baby may be small and need to be born early. Babies born early due to placental problems may become very unwell and need longer stay in hospital.

When should I take aspirin?
You should take aspirin from 12 weeks in your pregnancy until your baby is born.

How should I take aspirin?
Take one tablet (75mg) once a day with some food.

Is aspirin safe in pregnancy?
There is no evidence that aspirin will harm your baby in pregnancy. In fact aspirin has been shown to reduce the risk of pre-eclampsia, which in turn can help to reduce complications mentioned

When should I not take aspirin?
You should check with your doctor if you have ever had bleeding from the stomach lining. You should also let your doctor know if you are taking any other medication.

What should I do if I miss a tablet?
You can just take a pill when you remember. Do not take 2 tablets in a 24-hour period.

What happens if I go into labour when I am on aspirin?
Aspirin can be continued until you give birth. It does not increase your risk of bleeding.

What are the symptoms and signs of pre-eclampsia that I should be aware of?
Often there are no symptoms and it may be picked up when your blood pressure and urine are checked at routine appointments. Therefore it is important you attend these. You may feel unwell and a small number of cases can develop into a serious condition.

The symptoms to look out for are:
• Severe headaches that do not go away with painkillers
• Blurred vision or flashing lights
• Heartburn
• Vomiting
• Severe pain under the ribs
• Sudden onset of swelling of face, hands or feet
• Generally feeling unwell

These symptoms can be serious and you should tell your doctor or midwife straight away if you have any of them.

If I develop pre-eclampsia, how will it be monitored?
If you are diagnosed with pre-eclampsia you should attend hospital for assessment. Your blood pressure and urine will be measured regularly and you will have blood tests done. Your baby’s heart rate will be monitored and you may have ultrasound scans to measure your baby’s growth. If you have any of the symptoms mentioned above or your baby is not moving well, you must inform your doctor, midwife, Antenatal Day Assessment Unit (ADAU) or Labour Ward straight away.

Who should I contact if I have any concerns or questions?
If you have any concerns, you can contact your midwife, GP or the hospital:

Antenatal Day Assessment Unit
Milton Keynes University Hospital
Direct Tel: 01908 996481

Labour Ward, Milton Keynes University Hospital
Direct Tel: 01908 996471
Switchboard Tel: 01908 660033

Further information
NICE guidelines: Hypertension in pregnancy: diagnosis and management, Clinical guideline [CG107] Published date: August 2010 Last updated: January 2011