High blood pressure can occur during pregnancy for some reasons. It is not always a cause for immediate concern, but you will need to take steps to reduce it. Hypertension can be dangerous for both you and your baby. Your doctor will keep an eye on your blood pressure to ensure it remains in a normal and healthy range.
Hypertension is diagnosed when your blood pressure is 140/90 mmHg or more. It needs to remain at that level four hours apart to be considered abnormal and worrisome. There are multiple reasons for blood pressure to be temporarily high, which is why two measurements will be taken during a four-hour window to determine if it is a major issue.
It is essential to take steps to look after yourself, your baby, and your body. You want to get your blood pressure back down as much as possible. However, there are cases when this is not possible, and you need to take steps to prevent it from increasing anymore. Here are seven reasons you will need to be extra careful if you have hypertension in pregnancy.
It Can Decrease Blood Flow To Your Placenta
The placenta is one of the most important components of pregnancy. It is the part that delivers oxygen and nutrients to your baby. If the placenta is deprived of blood, your baby will not get as much oxygen or nutrients as it needs. This does not just put the baby’s life at risk, but can cause problems for the growth.
A lack of blood flow can lead to slow growth. Your baby may be much smaller than it should with underdeveloped parts of the body. Premature birth is also problematic, as your body may decide to push the baby out to save it. When babies are born before 37 weeks, they are classed as premature. This can lead to poor breathing problems and increase the risk of infection after birth, among other complications.
Premature babies have a lower chance of survival than babies born at full term. The lungs are not able to take in as much air, they may suffer from sepsis, and they can struggle with temperature management.
Even if your baby is not born prematurely, the lack of oxygen and nutrients can lead to some congenital disabilities. The nervous system may not be able to develop properly. All the organs can suffer, and there may not be enough fat developed on the bones. This can lead to health problems outside the womb and lead to a high risk of infection or early death.
You have An Increased Risk Of Placental Abruption
Placental abruption is when the placenta pulls away from the uterine wall. It can lead to heavy bleeding and death of both you and your baby.
High blood pressure can be a sign of preeclampsia. Your doctor will watch for levels of protein in your urine, swelling in the hands, legs, and face, and your blood pressure levels to see if you are at risk of this. There is no cure for it, and it can lead to placental abruptions occurring both before and during birth. If your baby is mature enough, most doctors will choose to induce you to make sure both you and your baby survive. You may also have a C-section to help prevent the pressure causing the placenta to pull away from the uterine lining.
There will be a pain if you suffer an abruption and much blood. It is essential that you get to the hospital as soon as possible to help stop the bleeding.
Some women are more susceptible to placental abruptions than others. If you have suffered one in a previous pregnancy, there are high chances that you will suffer from one again. Your doctor may discuss an elective C-section slightly earlier than your due date to ensure the health of both you and your baby.
Cause Injury To Your Organs
It is not just your baby that suffers when there is hypertension in pregnancy. Your organs can suffer and face injury. Hypertension affects the blood flow to your own body. It can prevent the oxygenated blood getting to each of the organs in your body, so they do not get all the nutrients they need.
This can be a life threatening issue. Your organs can start to shut down one-by-one. At first you may be placed on transplant lists but there is no guarantee there will be a transplant available for you. While there is dialysis available, this prolongs life but does not repair the organs.
It is important to take steps to reduce the blood pressure during pregnancy. Many doctors will recommend that you stay in bed the whole time and do very little that will cause you stress. You will not notice the damage to your organs as it happens, which is why hypertension is considered a “silent killer.” It is when you start experiencing the severe problems that you will notice the issue.
One of the biggest issues with organ injury is cardiovascular disease. Your blood vessels and heart weaken, and you are at risk of developing cardiovascular disease later in life.
It Can Progress To Something More Serious
You may have been told that you have gestational hypertension right now. This may not sound that serious, but it can develop into something life-threatening for you and your baby.
Gestational hypertension is high blood pressure that occurs during pregnancy. It is often because of the pregnancy that your blood pressure has increased. Most of the time the blood pressure decreases after you have given birth. The blood struggles to flow properly when you are pregnant, and you have a lot more of it. Some women also experience swelling because of their hypertension.
Gestational hypertension can occur at any point in pregnancy but is more common after 20 weeks. If you get it after 30 weeks, your doctor is less likely to be extremely concerned. The biggest concern will be delivering early, which can be prevented with bed rest and care. Yes, this is dangerous, but medical advancements mean that there are ways to help your baby.
If you get it before 30 weeks, you may need extra blood pressure and urine tests. Before 30 weeks you have a higher risk of developing preeclampsia, which is extremely dangerous for you and your baby. This can mean the unexpected early development of your baby, much earlier than doctors would like.
Those who have hypertension before 20 weeks will be diagnosed with chronic hypertension. This is often seen in women with high blood pressure before pregnancy or with other medical conditions. In most of cases, you will be given medication to help keep your blood pressure down, due to all the risks involved.
You May Give Birth Early
Gestational hypertension runs the risk of premature labor. This is one of the biggest worries for doctors, especially if you get hypertensive after the 30th week of pregnancy. Other health problems are less likely to occur, and the high blood pressure is the reason for the induced labor.
There are some risks with premature labor. Some of those include low birth weights, poorly developed organs, lack of fat and temperature regulation, and a higher risk of infection. Babies born between weeks 23 and 37 of pregnancy are considered premature, while babies born from week 37 are considered full term (but a little early if before week 40).
Doctors will do everything they can to help with the survival of the baby. Medical advancements do mean that there is a higher risk of survival compared to decades earlier, but in some cases that survival is still minimal. A baby born at 23 weeks pregnant can have a survival rate of just 13 percent, which is why doctors try to prevent early onset of labor as much as possible.
You need to keep your blood pressure down to avoid early labor. Doctors will attempt to stop contractions and keep the baby in, but it is not always possible.
Higher Risk Of HELLP Syndrome
Mothers with hypertension need to take care to avoid the development of preeclampsia. This can lead to a condition known as HELLP syndrome, which stands for hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelet count. The condition is life-threatening to the baby and the mother. You may experience headaches, abdominal pain, and vomiting due to the condition.
There are risks to the organs due to the condition. The liver is not able to get rid of as many toxins from the body, and the blood does not flow properly. Your body will find it harder to fight off infections, and you are at a higher risk of developing sepsis and other infectious conditions.
If you have HELLP syndrome, your doctor will order immediate medical care. You will need to get your blood pressure down instantly, and there are times that premature C-section deliveries are ordered as it is the only way to save the life of the mom and hopefully the baby.
When doctors are worried about this, they will suggest some remedies to help get your blood pressure down. Doctors will look for signs of preeclampsia first, as this usually occurs before HELLP syndrome. You will also have regular tests to make sure there are no sudden changes and other health problems.
Your Baby Is Not Able to Grow Properly
Hypertension in pregnancy can lead to poor growth in your baby. This is linked to the lack of nutrients and oxygen that your placenta gets. The placenta offers everything it can, and the baby’s system is slowed to help ensure survival as much as possible.
In some cases, this can mean physical and mental disabilities. It is not just the size of your baby that does not develop, but the growth of the organs, limbs, and other parts of the body. Your baby may suffer from various health complaints later in life, as organs have not grown fully, and the immune system cannot develop properly.
Small size is also a risk. When babies are small, they will naturally have smaller organs. They also find it harder to regulate their temperature and can be more brittle.
Babies that are born small can appear to have bigger heads compared to the rest of their bodies. They can also appear extremely thin, since their bodies haven’t developed enough fats. If hypertension has caused poor growth, the physical body may have grown but the baby may be weak. This can lead to a higher risk of infection and death. Smaller babies also tend to find it harder to eat and to gain weight later in life, which can put their lives at risk in the future.
Taking Steps To Manage Your Hypertension
The best thing you can do is manage your hypertension. You need to do as much as possible to lower your blood pressure while you are pregnant (and then keep it low). While you may not get to your pre-pregnancy levels until after birth, it is possible to keep your blood pressure lower and away from some of the danger zones.
Bed rest is the most commonly prescribed method to reduce your blood pressure. Doctors want you to take natural remedies first if your blood pressure is not too high, and bed rest is as natural as they come. By remaining in bed, you reduce the amount of walking and exercise you do. It is easier to reduce your stress levels, which will help to keep your blood pressure levels down naturally.
A change in diet can also help. Reduce your fat intake (even your healthy fats) and cut down on refined sugars. Opt for more fiber and proteins to help keep you fuller and add more nutrients to your diet. Plenty of fluids is also important.
Some pregnancy yoga can be beneficial, but it will depend on the severity of your hypertension. If your doctor has ordered bed rest, this will often mean no forms of exercise. However, you may want to consider meditation in bed to help reduce your stress levels further.
Your doctor may prescribe medication. In some cases, baby aspirin is encouraged daily. You only need a little to help thin the blood and make it easier for it to flow. Do not take any aspirin without your doctor’s say so, as it can be dangerous for your baby.
Getting your blood pressure under control is essential during pregnancy. Take steps to manage it so that you can avoid the multiple complications to you and your baby. Gestational hypertension can be common in later stages, but that does not make it safe or normal.