A pregnant woman's blood pressure should also be within the healthy range of less than 120/80 mm Hg. If blood pressure readings are higher, a pregnant woman may have elevated or high blood pressure.
Gestational hypertension is high blood pressure that develops during pregnancy. It starts after the mother is 20 weeks pregnant. Usually don't have any other symptoms. In many cases, it does not harm the mother or the baby, and it goes away within 12 weeks after childbirth. But it does raise the risk of high blood pressure in the future. It sometimes can be severe, which may lead to low birth weight or preterm birth. Some women with gestational hypertension do go on to develop preeclampsia.
Chronic hypertension is high blood pressure that started before the 20th week of pregnancy or before getting pregnant. Some women may have had it long before becoming pregnant but didn't know it until they got their blood pressure checked at their prenatal visit. Sometimes chronic hypertension can also lead to preeclampsia.
Preeclampsia is a sudden increase in blood pressure after the 20th week of pregnancy. It usually happens in the last trimester. In rare cases, symptoms may not start until after delivery. This is called postpartum preeclampsia. Preeclampsia also includes signs of damage to some organs, such as the liver or kidney. The signs may include protein in the urine and very high blood pressure. Preeclampsia can be serious or even life-threatening for both mother and baby.
What problems can preeclampsia cause?
Preeclampsia can cause
- Placental abruption, where the placenta separates from the uterus
- Poor fetal growth, caused by a lack of nutrients and oxygen
- Preterm birth
- A low birth weight baby
- Damage to mother's kidneys, liver, brain, and other organ and blood systems
- A higher risk of heart disease for the mother
- Eclampsia, which happens when preeclampsia is severe enough to affect brain function, causing seizures or coma
- HELLP syndrome, which happens when a woman with preeclampsia or eclampsia has damage to the liver and blood cells. It is rare but very serious.
Some ways to lower the risk of high blood pressure during pregnancy include:
Limiting salt intake
Consuming high amounts of sodium or salt can raise blood pressure. It is recommended that the mother limits her intake to 1 teaspoon of salt per day.
Drinking at least two and a half liters of water in a day will help for it.
Eating a balanced diet
Eating a balanced diet that is rich in plant-based foods and low in processed foods.
Getting regular exercise
Doing regular, recommended exercises may help.
Getting regular prenatal checkups
Regularly going for prenatal checkups so that you are well aware of any sudden increase in your blood pressure.
Avoiding smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol
Smoking and drinking alcohol are unsafe for the well-being and that of the unborn child, too. They do not have any positive effect on blood pressure either.
Know your medications
Ensure not to consume any over-the-counter medications that cause a rise in blood pressure. Always check the medicine with the doctor to confirm what’s safe. In case the woman is already on medication for high BP, she needs to discuss with her doctor about continuing them during her pregnancy. She may be prescribed safer medicines for the same.
Getting off the couch
The moment a woman decides to become a mother, follow a healthy lifestyle and start an exercise regime. Start moving, as being sedentary can cause increased weight gain and elevate the risk of hypertension during pregnancy.