High blood pressure associated with pregnancy can be a serious problem. While most pregnant women who have, or develop, high blood pressure during pregnancy go on to complete a natural birth with no serious problems, the condition can still be dangerous.
About 6% of women with no history of high blood pressure will spontaneously develop high blood pressure during pregnancy. This condition is referred to as gestational hypertension.
Who is at Risk?
Any woman can develop high blood pressure during pregnancy, but certain groups of women are at higher risk. Higher risk groups include women who
- Have developed high blood pressure during a previous pregnancy
- Are significantly overweight before becoming pregnant
- Are either younger than 20 or older than 40
- Are pregnant with twins
- Have existing diabetes or kidney problems
Serious Potential Problems
While most women with gestational hypertension will experience no serious problems, dangers do exist. The elevated blood pressure can damage the mother’s kidneys or affect blood supply to the baby. In serious cases, it can cause seizures and a degree of danger to the baby so serious that delivery must be induced. Because of these dangers, your doctor will want to monitor your progress very closely to ensure that more problematic situations are not developing.
Avoiding Gestational Hypertension
There is no single way to guarantee that high blood pressure will not develop during pregnancy. There are, however, sensible tips that will allow you to minimize your potential risk.
Before becoming pregnant it is important to
- Ensure your blood pressure is under control
- Engage in regular physical activity
- Lose weight if you are obese
Things to Monitor During Pregnancy
The single most important thing you can do to ensure your blood pressure health during pregnancy is to have regular prenatal care. Because blood pressure monitoring and other related tests are a standard part of prenatal care, simply going to the doctor as directed during pregnancy is very effective at minimizing problems and at catching any potential issues early. Additionally, you should avoid any alcohol or tobacco and should always tell your doctor about any medications (including over the counter medicines) that you are taking.
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