High blood pressure(Hypertension) is a common treatable condition affecting up to 15% of all pregnancies. Pregnancy-induced hypertension needs close monitoring and if not properly treated, it can have negative effects for both the mother and the baby. Blood pressure problems in pregnancy are of different types. One is gestational hypertension: when blood pressure rises around or after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
This may or may not be complicated with preeclampsia. The other one is chronic hypertension: which usually occurs when a woman suffers from high blood pressure even before getting pregnant.
Preeclampsia is a condition when hypertension sets in after 20 weeks and is associated with a lack of protein in the urine, swollen legs, headaches, etc. This is a worrying manifestation of hypertension as multiple organs of the body are affected like kidneys, liver, brain. It also hampers blood circulation in the body. In such severe conditions, a few women can also develop seizures, which can be fatal during pregnancy.
Chronic hypertension with superadded preeclampsia is a condition when a woman is already suffering from long-lasting hypertension and develops preeclampsia during her pregnancy.
Why is high blood pressure a problem in pregnancy?
Hypertension can have serious repercussions in pregnancy, especially when not managed properly. Enlisted below are a few risk factors:
Decreased blood flow to the placenta: This causes the baby to get less oxygen and nutrients and leads to intrauterine growth retardation, low birth weight or premature birth.
Prematurity: It can lead to breathing problems, increased risk of infection and failure to thrive for the baby.
Placental abruption: High blood pressure during pregnancy can separate the placenta from the uterus, leading to heavy bleeding. It can be life-threatening for the mother and the baby.
Intrauterine growth restriction: Hypertension affects the growth of the baby.
Planned premature delivery: Sometimes an early delivery has to be planned to prevent potentially life-threatening complications.
Post-partum haemorrhage: Women who have blood pressure problems during pregnancy tend to bleed a lot heavier at the time of the delivery.
Ecclapsia: Ecclapsia is the risk of developing fits when blood pressure shoots out of control. This is a medical emergency and can have life-threatening consequences for the mother and the baby.
Tips for pregnancy if you have high blood pressure
Create a proper plan for pregnancy before you decide to start a family. Get your blood pressure and your medicines reviewed. Reduce the dosage of blood pressure medicines to the least, just enough to manage blood pressure.
Maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly and optimise your diet.
Try meditation and yoga as methods of blood pressure control.
Flag up any signs or symptoms from above as soon as they occur.
Get your medicines reviewed intermittently for any adjustments that may be needed.
Do not self-medicate.