You will probably have your blood pressure checked frequently during your pregnancy; this is to ensure that it doesn?t rise too much over the course of the 9 months and in the later stages of pregnancy, you will be checked for signs of pre-eclampsia which can cause complications.
Blood Pressure During PregnancyWhy does Blood Pressure change in pregnancy?
Progesterone, the main player when it comes to pregnancy hormones, is to blame for changes in blood pressure when you are expecting. Blood pressure may be a little low in the first and second trimesters, but towards the end of the pregnancy it is normal for it to rise slightly. For some women, these changes are noticeable, for others they are very mild and don?t cause any problems.
Who is at Risk?
You are more risk of high blood pressure during pregnancy if it was high before you fell pregnant, if there is a family history of high blood pressure or if you are overweight. Mothers over 40 years of age are more at risk, and so are those with multiple births.
The danger that your care team will be concerned about is pre-eclampsia. This is a potentially serious condition which is identified by high blood pressure and protein in the urine. Other signs include puffiness and swelling in the feet and face, headaches, pain below the ribs and blurred vision. It typically develops in the second half of the pregnancy and occasionally after the baby has arrived. Pre-eclampsia is usually managed and controlled very well and babies are born healthy and well. However, there is a risk of Eclampsia, which causes the mother to have seizures and can pose a very real risk to mother and baby. This is rare, but it is important to manage Pre-eclampsia well to avoid the risk of Eclampsia or the need to deliver the baby early, which can pose risks to the baby as well.
How can I Avoid High Blood Pressure?
Healthy diet, exercise and attending regular appointments, checks and tests during your pregnancy are the best ways to avoid problems. Relaxation and avoiding stress can also help keep blood pressure down. Avoiding salty foods and reducing salt intake can help lower blood pressure.
You will be monitored if your blood pressure is high, and it may be checked very frequently by your midwife or doctor. It is preferable to manage high blood pressure without medical intervention but there are medications that can be prescribed which have been designed for use during pregnancy, so if your blood pressure is found to be high and isn?t responding to management techniques, then there are other options.
Labour and Birth
If you are taking medication for high blood pressure, you will take this during labour. You may be recommended for an epidural during labour as this can lower blood pressure and you may require an assisted delivery. However, many women with high blood pressure deliver healthy babies naturally so it is important you discuss your condition with your doctor or midwife to find the right solution for you.
What about After the Birth?
Your blood pressure should return to normal after the birth, for some women it takes a little longer so it will be monitored closely until it returns to its normal level.