While pregnancy is a natural physiological process, women sometimes develop complications due to unknown factors. One such complication is hypertension or high blood pressure during pregnancy.
It is called gestational hypertension when your blood pressure is 140/90 or above after the 20th week of pregnancy. In most cases, it resolves spontaneously after you give birth.
What is the main cause of this during pregnancy?
There is usually no specific reason why someone would develop hypertension during pregnancy. However, certain factors can put you at risk for it.
- History of hypertension during previous pregnancies
- History of hypertension in mothers or sisters during their pregnancies
- History of kidney disease or other conditions like lupus
- Age is less than 20 or more than 40
- Twins or higher multiple gestations
- Having diabetes
What happens if you have high blood pressure during pregnancy?
High blood pressure during pregnancy can be dangerous for both the mother and the baby.
In mothers, continued hypertension can lead to preeclampsia or eclampsia. Pre-eclampsia is hypertension combined with kidney problems that lead to the secretion of excess protein into the urine.
If the condition remains untreated, it leads to more severe eclampsia, which includes all symptoms of preeclampsia plus seizures.
If a mother has imminent eclampsia, it is imperative to deliver the baby regardless of gestation. It increases the risk of c-section or maternal morbidity if not timely managed. It also puts the baby at risk for premature birth.
Continued hypertension during pregnancy can also adversely affect the baby. It can cause:
- Low birth weight babies or fetal IUGR
- Respiratory problems for the baby if being delivered prematurely
- Fetal hypoxia
How can I reduce my blood pressure during pregnancy?
Treatment of blood pressure during pregnancy depends on the severity of the condition.
If you have occasional episodes of high blood pressure, your healthcare provider will probably just monitor it closely. You will have to make certain dietary and lifestyle changes including reducing the intake of salty foods, partaking in pregnancy-safe workouts, etc.
If you have continued high blood pressure, your healthcare provider may prescribe certain medications to control it.
However, if you have severely high blood pressure combined with symptoms like blackouts, dizziness, etc. Your healthcare provider may recommend an in-patient treatment so you can receive IV medication and close monitoring.
When should I be concerned about my blood pressure during pregnancy?
Continued high blood pressure isn’t good whether you’re pregnant or not. It increases your risk for cardiac disease and kidney problems. Likewise, uncontrolled blood pressure during pregnancy puts you at risk for developing preeclampsia and eclampsia.
If you experience any of the symptoms combined with a history of having high blood pressure, contact your healthcare provider immediately;
- Swelling in your feet, hands, or around the eye area
- Severe headaches that won’t go away
- Episodes of blackout or vision change
- Unable to pee
- Pain in your epigastric region
It’s always better to be safe and take precautions beforehand to avoid any complications.