Pregnancy is a very fulfilling time for most women, emotionally as well as physically, because you are going to become a mother which is what Nature had meant you to be. But it is not necessarily a joyride for all. Some women have a smooth nine-month ride to delivery while others spending most of their waking hours puking or in pain. Being worried, anxious as well as excited is normal for all and the blood pressure can be slightly on the higher side but if it higher than average then there is a cause for concern.
Know about blood pressure
Higher blood pressure does not always spell trouble for all. But it can be dangerous for both the mother and child in particular cases. An approximated reading of 140/90mm Hg or more is considered to be on the higher side. The normal is considered to be around 120/80mm Hg during pregnancy. As the month’s progress, a woman’s blood pressure tends to change and sometimes goes back to the pre-pregnancy level. The amount of blood in the body increases during this time because of the additional amount that goes into creating the baby. There is a rise of almost 45% in the blood volume during this time. The heart also pumps a greater amount of blood which is why the left heart ventricle becomes larger and thicker. This blood pressure in most cases reduces right after the delivery of the child.
Why does the blood pressure increase?
There are multiple reasons for the rise in the blood pressure.
- Obesity: Women suffering from excessive weight tend to have a higher blood pressure because of the excess fat plus the increased weight of the baby.
- Lack of sufficient activity: Pregnant women need some amount of physical activity to remain physically fit. But those lacking in the required amount of movement may suffer from high blood pressure.
- Drinking alcohol and smoking: Pregnancy is a time to maintain a regularised and restricted lifestyle for the sake of the healthy development of the baby. Leading an unhealthy lifestyle can lead to complications.
- The family history of hypertension: If you have a history of hypertension in the family then discussing it with the doctor is a good idea to help manage complications.
- Carrying multiple children: Women carrying more than one child e.g. in case of twins or triplets can suffer from hypertension because of the increased amount of physical stress.
- Age of the mother is 40: Maternal age does matter a lot because in your 40s the body is often not physically fit for the hard work.
- First-time pregnancy: If you are pregnant for the first time then chances are all the first-time jitters are working hard to shoot up the blood pressure.
- IVF: The usage of assistive technologies often shoots up the blood pressure.
Different blood pressure conditions
There are three different conditions where a woman can suffer from blood pressure related issues during pregnancy.
Gestational hypertension: This type of hypertension develops after almost 20 weeks of pregnancy and vanishes after the baby has been delivered. It tends to cause induce labor. If it is diagnosed prior to 30 weeks of pregnancy then it can lead to preeclampsia.
Chronic hypertension: If you are already suffering from high blood pressure when you conceive then it can be said that you have chronic hypertension. Constant medication is needed to keep the pressure within permissible limits. If the hypertension trait is diagnosed within the first 20 weeks of pregnancy then also it can be said that you are suffering from chronic hypertension.
Hypertension with superimposed preeclampsia: Sometimes it happens that along with an existing high blood pressure condition you find additional complications or protein in the urine with the progression of the pregnancy.
Why higher blood pressure can pose problems
There are a number of complications that are caused by hypertension in a pregnant woman.
Preeclampsia is the most common problem that is faced by women with higher blood pressure. Also known as toxemia this is a fatal condition which often leads to serious damage to the internal organs like kidneys and brain. Sometimes it is accompanied by seizure which is known as eclampsia. The symptoms of this condition include protein in the urine, continued headaches and serious swelling of the hands and feet.
This is another serious problem caused by enhanced blood pressure. It is a life-threatening condition wherein the mother-to-be suffers from vomiting, nausea, pain in the upper abdomen and also a headache. The HELLP syndrome is capable of damaging internal organs of the mother and baby. In several cases, doctors may have to resort to a premature delivery to save the mother and child.
High blood pressure affects a baby’s growth rate and also causes other complications including placenta abruption. In this condition, the placenta gets detached from the uterus before time. Preterm delivery is also caused due to higher blood pressure wherein the baby is delivered before 38 weeks of gestation. Often, a caesarean section has to be done because of hypertension to save the mother-child duo.
How to prevent hypertension
A high blood pressure is almost impossible to avoid during pregnancy whether you have a history of blood pressure or not. Weight gain is also likely to happen which is sure to cause some rise in the blood pressure.
Here is the good news, that there are ways to exercise some amount of control:
- If you are particularly susceptible to weight gain, try speaking to your health care provider at the earliest.
- Dietary corrections can curb excessive weight gain to take the help of a dietician.
- During pregnancy stay away from alcohol and smoking to reduce blood pressure.
- Try yoga and meditation to control the physical and psychological changes which occur during pregnancy. These methods also aid in stress reduction.
- Resort to medication if all these measures fail to control the rise in blood pressure.
• Proper medication and lifestyle changes can definitely help in making a difference and avoiding any serious complication that endangers the life of the mother and child.