High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, can occur for the first time during pregnancy. Its presence can be a result of numerous different medical problems but regardless of why, it is always a concern.
Blood pressure is the force of the blood that presses on your arteries. Arteries carry blood from the heart to other parts of your body. Veins return blood to the heart. Blood pressure (BP) readings are taken as the pressure when your heart contracts (systolic, the top number of a blood pressure reading) and the pressure when your heart is at rest (diastolic, the bottom number of a BP reading). Healthy blood pressure readings should be less than 130 systolic and less than 80 diastolic. Borderline readings are 130s systolic and 80s diastolic.
Generally there are no signs or symptoms of high blood pressure, which is why hypertension is often called “the silent killer.” That’s also why regular visits with your caregiver during pregnancy are super important. Your doctor will monitor your blood pressure to ensure that high blood pressure during pregnancy does not become a problem.
High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy
Many women who have normal blood pressure before pregnancy develop high blood pressure during pregnancy. Approximately eight out of 100 women will experience high blood pressure issues during pregnancy.
A condition known as pre-eclampsia is the most common high blood pressure disorder during pregnancy. This occurs when a pregnant woman develops high blood pressure and has microscopic amounts of protein in her urine. Pre-eclampsia typically arises during the latter stages of pregnancy but can develop sooner. It is a progressive disorder and can jeopardize the health of both the baby and the mother if not monitored closely and dealt with appropriately.
Your Pacific Women’s Center doctor will help you monitor your blood pressure during your pregnancy to be sure it stays in the normal range. If it does get high enough to be a problem, your doctor will help to manage it. There are some medicines for high blood pressure that are safe to take during pregnancy and you might need to take one of these.
There will also be additional blood tests and pregnancy surveillance needed if you are diagnosed with pre-eclampsia or another hypertensive disorder during your pregnancy. Healthy exercise and not smoking can both make a big difference in blood pressure readings as well. Just be sure to come to all of your recommended prenatal visits.