High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy: Symptoms & Effects

high blood pressure during pregnancy

A blood pressure higher than 140/90 is considered as High Blood Pressure or Hypertension and is quite common in pregnant women. A high blood pressure need not always be serious but in certain cases it can cause severe health complications in the mother and unborn child.

Your risks of hypertension are higher if:

  • You are obese or overweight
  • You have a predominantly sedentary lifestyle
  • You smoke or drink alcohol
  • This is your first pregnancy
  • You have a family history of kidney disease, preeclampsia, etc.
  • You are carrying more than one child
  • You are above 40yrs of age
  • You have used assistive technology to get pregnant

Your blood pressure will be checked at every gynaecologist visit. High pressure and other symptoms of protein in the hormone can mean a suspected Preeclampsia which then must be discussed with the gynaecologist and treated accordingly.

Signs and symptoms of high blood pressure during pregnancy:

You could have high blood pressure if you notice the following symptoms regularly -

  1. Headaches - you could experience dull, numbing headaches frequently
  2. Dimming or blurred vision - you might be seeing double or blurry images intermittently
  3. Decreased urination - your loo breaks have come down drastically, and you don’t know why
  4. Tenderness or pain in the belly, especially the left hand side -
  5. Sudden and rapid weight gain - if you see a change in the weighing scale suddenly and it keeps increasing
  6. Bleeding - any cuts or wounds don’t stop bleeding and need medical attention.

Effects of high blood pressure in pregnancy:

A high pressure beyond 20weeks of pregnancy increases risks of complications. Preeclampsia can develop which is characterised by – protein in the urine, abnormal hand and feet swelling and persistent headaches. This can be damaging to your organs (brain and kidneys included.)

High blood pressure is not good for the unborn baby either – it can affect growth rate, cause low birth-weight, placental abruption, preterm delivery, caesarean sections, etc.

The highest risks to high blood pressure – obesity and a blood pressure history can be controlled with a healthy diet and exercise. Consult your dietician for guidelines which can help you gain the required healthy weight.

How to control high blood pressure in pregnancy:

  • Stay Fit : Workout regularly, as much as you can, keep yourself physically active. Take the stairs instead of the lift, walk a little longer to the next shop for your groceries, take a detour to the same place, if you can’t squeeze in a workout regime.
  1. Take your medication: If you’ve been prescribed medication for High BP already, make sure you take it on time, and don’t miss a cycle. Even a missed tablet can cause blood pressure to shoot up again.
  1. Do not smoke or consume alcohol  : Although this is self explanatory, if you’ve been smoking before pregnancy and it’s difficult to control urges, remember that nicotine does not help at all with high BP, neither will that occasional glass of wine benefit you.
  1. Monitor your weight gain - Keep a constant tab on the weighing scale, make a journal record if that helps, but keep a check on how much weight you are gaining or if there is a sudden change.
  1. Most important of all - Eat a healthy diet - Plan your meals, squeeze a salad in, include some fruit daily, do not indulge in salty snacks, munch on some nuts instead.

Diet to reduce high blood pressure during pregnancy:

Here are some foods that are known to help with lowering high blood pressure :

  • Skimmed milk - Drinking low fat or skimmed milk is good for you because dairy products contain nutrients that push your blood pressure down. But since you don’t want to clog up your arteries, stick to low - fat milk products.
  1. Oranges - Make some orange juice, make some fruit salad with tangy oranges thrown in or just have one a day after your meal. Oranges have high vitamin C, which has been known to lower blood pressure during pregnancy.
  1. Bananas - The ever humble banana is high in fiber and potassium and potassium helps decrease blood pressure as well. You can make a smoothie with bananas and milk and kill two birds with one stone!
  1. Spices and herbs - You’ve been on a low salt diet and don’t feel like eating because of that. Spice up your meals with fresh herbs like cilantro or cumin. You can also squeeze in some lemon juice for flavour.

Remember to relax and not stress out too much also, which is the most important thing right now!