Blood Pressure in Pregnancy

Information on pregnancy induced hypertension

Monitoring your blood pressure in pregnancy is very important, as changes in blood pressure are among the most common pregnancy complications. Remember that in addition to high blood pressure during pregnancy, which is the more common, you may also get low blood pressure in pregnancy that can lead to lightheadedness and fainting.

 

There are three types of high blood pressure that can occur during pregnancy. The first is chronic, which may preexist (often without the mother's knowledge) prior to pregnancy. You may also get gestational high blood pressure, which usually occurs during the third trimester of pregnancy and is usually the result of carrying around extra weight for six months or more. Finally, preeclampsia can occur, which is a type of hypertension that causes chemical changes in your blood and urine.

Potential Complications of Pregnancy-Induced Hypertension

Chronic high blood pressure can cause your baby to grow more slowly than usual, since hypertension can inhibit your body's ability to deliver oxygen and vital nutrients to your growing baby. It can also trigger preeclampsia. Gestational hypertension won't cause any problems for your baby, but keep in mind that it may result in increased blood pressure after your baby is born, so you'll have to take steps to reduce it as your body returns to normal. Preeclampsia is a more serious problem, as it can lead to seizures which can be life-threatening. Even if it doesn't progress this far, preeclampsia can trigger a premature delivery and result in a low birth weight for your baby; if you have symptoms such as dizziness, vision changes, headaches and abdominal pain, tell your prenatal caregiver right away so interventions can be made early.

Treatments for pregnancy-induced hypertension include medications to control your blood pressure and dietary and activity changes which lower your blood pressure. Preeclampsia is more complicated to treat, as the only thing that can truly end the condition is to deliver the baby. The exact steps your doctor will take depend on the severity of the problem and how close you are to having the baby, which is why it is vitally important to detect it as soon as possible.