• antihypertensive;
  • drug therapy;
  • pre-eclampsia

Key content

  • Appropriate treatment of postnatal hypertension is essential to prevent maternal morbidity and mortality from cerebral haemorrhage.
  • Women with pre-eclampsia remain at risk of serious complications following delivery and should continue to be monitored as an inpatient for at least 72 hours.
  • Compared with the antenatal period, a wider choice of antihypertensive agents are available to prescribe for the postnatal patient. An understanding of the basic pharmacology and risk–benefit profiles of each agent will facilitate patient-centred prescribing.
  • Following discharge, the community team should be given clear guidelines for ongoing management of hypertension. A hospital postnatal appointment should be offered to discuss future pregnancy and cardiovascular risk.

Learning objectives

  • Review postpartum cardiovascular physiology following normal and hypertensive pregnancies.
  • Demonstrate the principles of management and a suggested approach to management of postpartum hypertension based on NICE guidance.
  • Discuss antihypertensive agents prescribed for women in the postpartum period.