Washington Blue Band Initiative

High Blood Pressure and Preeclampsia During and After Pregnancy

The Blue Band Initiative is an effort to alert health care providers about a patient's risk for preeclampsia. Patients who are at risk of developing preeclampsia or having elevated blood pressure after giving birth, will wear a blue wrist band during pregnancy and after delivery of their babies. 

If you have been asked to wear a blue band, keep it on until your provider takes it off or tells you to take it off, even after you’ve left the hospital.

Examples of Blue Bands:

A blue rubber wristband with Eclampsia Risk printed on it.
A pregnant woman wearing a rubber blue wrist band that says Alert Eclampsia Risk
A dark blue wristband that says Alert!! Eclampsia Risk!!


Preeclampsia is a serious blood pressure condition that can happen after the 20th week of pregnancy, or after giving birth (called postpartum preeclampsia). 

Preeclampsia occurs when a woman has high blood pressure and can sometimes lead to her organs, such as kidneys and liver, do not working normally. High blood pressure is when the pressure on the walls of your arteries, the blood vessels that carry blood away from your heart to other parts of the body, is too high. It can stress your heart and cause problems during pregnancy. For more info, visit the March of Dimes, CentraCare (MN), or the Minnesota Perinatal Quality Collaborative (MNPQC) webpages on preeclampsia.

Preeclampsia can cause:

  • Rising blood pressure
  • Protein in the urine
  • Organ damage
  • Seizure
  • Stroke
  • Death

Signs and symptoms of preeclampsia:

  • Swelling of face or hands
  • A headache that is severe or will not go away
  • Seeing spots or changes in vision
  • Pain in the upper right area of your belly or stomach pain
  • Nausea or throwing up
  • Sudden or rapid weight gain
  • Trouble breathing or feeling short of breath
  • Heartburn that will not go away
  • Decreased urination or none
  • Rising blood pressure
  • Chest pain
  • Confusion

What are the risk factors for preeclampsia?

  • First pregnancy
  • A history of preeclampsia in a previous pregnancy
  • Family history of preeclampsia
  • History of high blood pressure
  • History of kidney disease
  • Age 35 years or older
  • If you are carrying more than one baby
  • Having certain medical conditions such as diabetes, bleeding disorders, or some auto-immune conditions
  • BMI over 35
  • Pregnancy from fertility treatments

What are the risks for my baby if I develop preeclampsia?

  • Premature delivery
  • Stillbirth- death or loss of a baby before or during delivery

Long-term risks of preeclampsia

Preeclampsia can cause serious health problems for you and could have lifelong impacts. Women who have had preeclampsia have increased risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke, and high blood pressure.

If you had preeclampsia once, it increases your risk of preeclampsia with future pregnancies.

If you notice any of the symptoms of preeclampsia listed above, you should seek medical attention. Get a ride to your closest emergency room or call 911 and report the symptoms you have been experiencing.

Wearing a Blue Band

If you are at risk of developing or have preeclampsia, your health care provider will ask you to wear a blue wristband. 

  • Leave the blue wristband on until your health care provider takes it off or tells you to take it off.
  • Keep your follow-up appointments with your health care provider, even if you are feeling well.
  • Expect your first follow-up appointment after delivery to be within 2-5 days of discharge from the hospital.
  • Continue your prescribed medications as directed.
  • Tell your family and friends about the importance of wearing the band and getting care.

It is important to let health care providers know if you are pregnant or have recently been pregnant.

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