Pregnancy and Hypertension

By now everyone knows that if pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant, your blood pressure should be under control. The good news is that a lot of women have high blood pressure and go on to have healthy babies. That’s not to say that you don’t have to take special considerations.
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Notice what kind of problems hypertension can cause during pregnancy as related by Mayo Clinic:

• Decreased blood flow to the placenta. This reduces the baby’s supply of oxygen and nutrients, potentially slowing the baby’s growth and increasing the risk of a low birth weight.

• Placental abruption. With this condition, the placenta prematurely separates from the uterus. Placental abruption can deprive the baby of oxygen and nutrients and cause heavy bleeding in the mother.

• Premature delivery. Sometimes an early delivery is needed to prevent potentially life-threatening complications.

• Future cardiovascular disease. Women who develop preeclampsia - a serious condition characterized by high blood pressure and protein in the urine after 20 weeks of pregnancy - may be at increased risk of cardiovascular disease later in life, despite the fact that their blood pressure returns to normal after delivery.

There are even different kinds of hypertension that expecting mothers need to be aware of:

• Chronic hypertension. If high blood pressure develops before 20 weeks of pregnancy or lasts more than 12 weeks after delivery, it’s known as chronic hypertension. Some women have undiagnosed chronic hypertension before they become pregnant.

• Gestational hypertension. If high blood pressure develops after 20 weeks of pregnancy, it’s known as gestational hypertension. Unlike with preeclampsia, affected women don’t have protein in their urine. Gestational hypertension usually goes away after delivery.

• Preeclampsia. Sometimes chronic hypertension or gestational hypertension leads to preeclampsia, a serious condition characterized by high blood pressure and protein in the urine after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Left untreated, preeclampsia can lead to serious - even fatal - complications for mother and baby.

What can be done?

First, you must work with your doctor to get the right medications to take while pregnant. Not all high blood pressure meds can be taken while pregnant. Once prescribed, don’t stop or change your dose on your own; always take meds as directed by your physician. Since hypertensive mothers are considered high-risk, doctor’s visits will be often. Of course, this is to monitor the baby’s health and yours. Do not miss your prenatal appointments.

Another tip is to get plenty of rest. That’s not to say that exercise is ruled out, just check with your doctor before beginning a regimen. Also, eat healthy and monitor your weight. Since you’re pregnant, it’s safe to say you’ll gain weight, but it’s not safe to gain too much. Extreme weight gain increases stress on the heart during the pregnancy and maybe even afterwards. Lastly, stay away from smoking, alcohol and illicit drugs.

Finally, in regards to labor and delivery, your physician may suggest inducing labor to avoid any complications from beginning according to the Mayo Clinic. But if you are having complications, your physician may suggest inducing labor even earlier. And depending on the type of complications, such as preeclampsia, a C-section may be needed.

Best in Health!

Source: Mayo Clinic
By Dita Faulkner
Dita Faulkner is a freelance writer and a fan of the Tennessee Titans!

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