Whether pregnant or planning a pregnancy, keeping your pressure in check is mandatory for your, as well as your baby’s health. Here’s everything you need to know about symptoms to look for, and possible precautions.
Who can develop high blood pressure during pregnancy?
The following women may have an increased risk of developing gestational hypertension:
- First-time moms
- Women whose sisters and mothers have had high blood pressure during pregnancy
- Women carrying more than one baby
- Women younger than age 20 or older than age 40
- Women who had high blood pressure or kidney disease prior to pregnancy
How Do I Know If I Have Gestational Hypertension (high pressure during pregnancy)?
At each checkup, your doctor will check your blood pressure and urine levels. Your doctor may also check your kidney and blood-clotting functions, order blood tests, perform an ultrasound scan to check your baby’s growth, and use a Doppler scan to measure the efficiency of blood flow to the placenta.
How Is Gestational Hypertension Treated?
Treatment depends on how close you are to your due date. If you are close to your due date and the baby is developed enough, your doctor may want to deliver your baby as soon as possible. If you have mild hypertension and your baby is not fully developed, your doctor will probably recommend one or more of the following:
- Rest, lying on your left side
- Increased prenatal checkups
- Lessening salt consumption
- 8 glasses of water a day
If you have severe hypertension, your doctor may try to treat you with blood pressure medication until you are far enough along to deliver safely.
How Does Gestational Hypertension Affect My Baby?
Hypertension can prevent the placenta from getting enough blood. If the placenta doesn’t get enough blood, your baby gets less oxygen and food. This can result in low birth weight. Most women still can deliver a healthy baby if hypertension is detected and treated early. If your hypertension is severe, it can lead to preeclampsia, which can have much more serious effects on both mom and baby.
How Can I Prevent Gestational Hypertension?
Currently, there is no sure way to prevent hypertension. Some contributing factors to high blood pressure can be controlled, while others cannot. Follow your doctor’s instruction about diet and exercise.
Some ways you can help prevent gestational hypertension include:
- Use salt as needed for taste
- Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day
- Increase the amount of protein you take in, and decrease the amount of fried foods and junk food you eat
- Get enough rest
- Exercise regularly
- Elevate your feet several times during the day
- Avoid drinking alcohol
- Avoid beverages containing caffeine
- Your doctor may suggest you take prescribed medicine and additional supplements
- If you are thinking about having a baby and you have high blood pressure, talk first to your doctor or nurse. Taking steps to control your blood pressure before and during pregnancy, and getting regular prenatal care go a long way toward ensuring your well-being and your baby’s health.
Before becoming pregnant
- Be sure your blood pressure is under control. Lifestyle changes such as limiting your salt intake, participating in regular physical activity, and losing weight if you are overweight can be helpful.
- Discuss with your doctor how hypertension might affect you and your baby during pregnancy, and what you can do to prevent or lessen problems.
- If you take medicines for your blood pressure, ask your doctor whether you should change the amount you take or stop taking them during pregnancy.
- Do not, however, stop or change your medicines unless your doctor tells you to do so.
While you are pregnant
- Obtain regular prenatal medical care
- Avoid alcohol , smoking and illicit drugs
- Talk to your doctor about any over-the-counter medication you are taking or are thinking about taking
Does Hypertension during Pregnancy Cause Long-Term Heart and Blood Vessel Problems?
The effects of high blood pressure during pregnancy vary depending on many factors. Women with normal blood pressure who develop hypertension after the 20th week (5th month ) of their first pregnancy, short-term complications (including increased blood pressure) usually go away within about 6 weeks of delivery.
Some women, however, may be more likely to develop high blood pressure or other heart disease later in life.
All pregnant women should be aware of the serious symptoms associated with hypertension, and need to obtain urgent medical advice if any of the following is present :
- Severe headache
- Visual problems: blurred vision or flashing before the eyes
- Severe tummy pain
- Sudden swelling of the face, hands or feet
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