Hypertension In Pregnancy: High Blood Pressure Complications

Hypertension and pregnancy

Hypertension In Pregnancy

Blood pressure is the force of your blood pushing against the walls of your arteries as your heart pumps blood. hypertension or High blood pressure is when this force against your artery walls is too high. Hypertension in pregnancy can be dangerous. You need to monitor your blood pressure during pregnancy. In pregnancy, there are different types of high blood pressure. 

Gestational Hypertension

gestational hypertensionPregnant women tend to develop some conditions during pregnancy. And these conditions usually disappear after childbirth. As the name suggests “gestational’’ meaning “pregnant” and “hypertension” means high blood pressure. So gestational hypertension means high blood pressure you develop during pregnancy. It usually starts after 20 weeks of pregnancy. In gestational hypertension, there are no symptoms that appear like protein in the urine or other signs of hypertension. However, some women with gestational hypertension eventually develop preeclampsia.


Preeclampsia hypertension in pregnancy

Preeclampsia is a condition that occurs when hypertension develops after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Gestational hypertension develops after 20 weeks of pregnancy. And unlike gestational hypertension preeclampsia is associated with signs of damage to other organ systems, including the kidneys, liver, blood, or brain. If preeclampsia is not treated at the right time, it can lead to serious and fatal complications for mother and baby including the development of eclampsia or seizures. 

Chronic Hypertension

Chronic hypertension is high blood pressure that starts before the 20th week of pregnancy. Some women with chronic hypertension may develop preeclampsia when they are pregnant. If you have chronic hypertension, most probably you already had high blood pressure before you fell pregnant. for example, if you already had a medical condition such as kidney disease then you might develop chronic hypertension.       

Causes Of Hypertension During Pregnancy

Any woman can develop high blood pressure during pregnancy. However, you are more at risk of developing hypertension if you have-

  • Had preeclampsia before, 
  • A family history of preeclampsia,
  • A disease like kidney disease, diabetes, or chronic hypertension
  • Age above 40
  • Obesity
  • Twins or more

These are the possible risk factors of high blood pressure during their pregnancy. If you come under any of these conditions then check your blood pressure more often.  

Symptoms Of Hypertension During Pregnancy

symptomes of hypertension in pregnancy

Besides high blood pressure reading, other signs of hypertension or preeclampsia may include- 

  • Excess protein in your urine or other symptoms of kidney disease
  • Severe headaches
  • Changes in vision like blurred vision or light sensitivity
  • Pain in the upper abdomen
  • Shortness of breath, caused by fluid in your lungs

Some other symptoms like sudden weight gain and swelling in your face and hands may also appear. But these symptoms appear in normal pregnancies too. So these signs are not considered reliable.

Complications Of Hypertension During Pregnancy

Preeclampsia, eclampsia, stroke all are the result of hypertension in pregnant mothers. If the baby is weak, the mother may need to deliver early. There may be a need for labor induction which means giving medicine to induce labor. And in some cases, a cesarean section may be needed as well. Women may face problems after delivery also.  

Complications For Baby

premature baby birth

If you have high blood pressure during pregnancy, there is a major chance of early birth of a child with low birth weight. Hypertension in pregnant women can prevent blood from flowing to the placenta. Because of low blood flow, the baby does not get enough nutrients or oxygen. It causes a low birth weight of fewer than 5 pounds of baby or preterm delivery. 

For this reason, it’s very important that high blood pressure is picked up early and treated.

Prevention Of High Blood Pressure In Pregnancy

prevent hypertension in pregnancy

You can manage high blood pressure during pregnancy by closely monitoring your blood pressure. Common risk factors for high blood pressure like obesity can be taken care of through diet and exercise. 

During pregnancy, it’s normal to gain weight, but a nutritionist can help create a meal plan that is designed for your specific height and weight. Avoid smoking or drinking alcohol because both are known to raise blood pressure and cause other complications during pregnancy.    

You need to take a diet that does not have too much salt or too little salt. Too low a salt diet is harmful to pregnant women and can impact fetal growth and development. But a high salt diet can raise blood pressure. That is why pregnant women need to be careful with what they eat. Pregnancy causes hormone shifts and psychological changes along with physical changes. This can bring on stress and may lead to high blood pressure. You can try yoga and meditation for stress reduction. Always remember to keep a positive mind while taking a healthy diet in pregnancy. 

Does Blood Pressure Remain High After Birth?

High blood pressure in pregnancy usually disappears after the birth of a baby. However, there is still some possibility of some complications during the first few days after the birth and you will need to be monitored closely for some weeks. 

And in the case of chronic hypertension where blood pressure rises due to another medical condition, you will need to see their doctor to make sure their blood pressure returns to safe levels.    

Is Breastfeeding Safe If You Have Hypertension?

Yes. You can breastfeed if you take hypertension medicine.  Breastfeeding is encouraged for most women who have high blood pressure. Usually, women who are consuming hypertension medicines are concerned if it is safe for the baby to breastfeed. Your doctor may change your treatment after childbirth according to the condition. Discuss medication adjustments you will need to make with your doctor before the baby’s birth.

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