We are living in the fast-changing world which brings with it not only the benefits of civilization but also a few “side-effects”, for example, a lot of stress. And stress, in turn, brings such unpleasant surprises as high blood pressure during pregnancy – being pregnant is also a stress for the female body, after all.
That’s why monitoring blood pressure is a mandatory procedure for any future mom. It makes sense to measure blood pressure once a week, and if there is some problem you should do it every day. Of course, you must know the normal rates first.
Blood pressure during pregnancy: the norm and deviations from it
Have you heard that the normal blood pressure of an average healthy person should be 120/80? Nevermind, it’s better to watch your individual figures anyway. The normal blood pressure during pregnancy is not higher than 140/90 and not lower than 90/60.
That’s quite a wide range, isn’t it? So, you should find out what your own “normal” blood pressure is because even 90/60 is well enough for a 20-year-old girl whose weight is about 110 pounds (and 120/80 would be considered high for such a person).
What are the risks of high blood pressure during pregnancy?
Unfortunately, high blood pressure during pregnancy is a dangerous symptom. When a woman has increased blood pressure the doctors begin worrying about the possible development of gestosis. It’s a dangerous and wicked pregnancy complication which leads to disorders in the functioning of the future mom’s internal organs, first of them being the cardiovascular and blood systems.
Gestosis develops due to the placenta producing substances which cause tiny holes to open in the blood vessels. The blood plasma gets through them into the tissues. This results in swellings during pregnancy (especially in swollen hands and legs). The worst thing is the placenta also becomes swollen, so the fetus is lacking oxygen.
Even if high blood pressure during pregnancy isn’t a sign of gestosis, you can’t just ignore it. The doctors pay a lot of attention to the blood pressure of trying to conceive and pregnant women, and not for nothing. As a matter of fact, high blood pressure in pregnancy induces changes in the blood vessels of the placenta and the fetus.
The reduced blood circulation between the mother and her unborn baby is called fetoplacental insufficiency. If the baby doesn’t get enough oxygen and nutrients, intrauterine growth retardation can start – and this is a serious problem.
If high blood pressure during pregnancy occurs often, and its rates are fairly high (140-150 or higher), it can lead to placental detachment – a very dangerous complication in the normal course of pregnancy. High blood pressure during pregnancy can become a reason for a miscarriage or premature birth. And, in the end, high blood pressure during the delivery can cause eclampsia – a convulsive disorder which doesn’t do the woman or her baby any good.
The signs and symptoms of high blood pressure while pregnant
The best method of finding out your blood pressure is measuring it with the help of a special device (tonometer). If the pregnant woman had some problem with blood pressure in the past, buying a tonometer becomes a necessity!
But an expectant mother can also notice some of the sensations that mean she has high blood pressure: such a condition is often accompanied by headaches, sometimes very severe, and fits of dizziness.
The other symptoms of high blood pressure are:
- Overall deterioration of health;
- Nausea, vomiting;
- Seeing black spots;
- Red spots on the skin of face and neck.
But sometimes a future mother doesn’t have any symptoms of high blood pressure during pregnancy – she feels no discomfort and finds out about hypertension only after another measurement.
High blood pressure and pregnancy: the causes
Why is the blood pressure raising during pregnancy? There are a few most common reasons:
- Stress, as we have already mentioned. Pregnancy is hard on a woman sometimes; the female body doesn’t manage to adjust in time and reacts with increased blood pressure.
- The heart can’t work “for two” properly and deal with the increased blood
- Bad genes. If high blood pressure is a family trait, there is a possibility you’ll have high blood pressure during pregnancy.
- Diabetes. It’s always an unpleasant factor.
- Smoking while pregnant (or smoking a lot before pregnancy). It’s not a healthy habit, and it, first of all, harms the cardiovascular system.
- Lack of physical activity. The trained heart will cope with increased blood volume much better.
- Monitor your weight gain! You need to control this process.
- Kidney problems. There is a direct connection between kidney diseases and high blood pressure during pregnancy.
- The thyroid gland, adrenal gland or pituitary gland hormonal dysfunction. High blood pressure during pregnancy is often a result of such hormonal disturbances.
How to normalize high blood pressure during pregnancy?
A lot of pregnant women are interested in ways of reducing blood pressure during pregnancy on their own. But high blood pressure during pregnancy is one of the cases when self-treatment is unacceptable. Don’t take any medications without discussing your problem with a doctor first!
Your physician will examine you and prescribe drug therapy. You should strictly follow all medical recommendations about the admission of drug and its dosage. Don’t stop taking medications on a whim – in the case of high blood pressure during pregnancy only your compliance with doctor’s orders will give results.
There is a chance that you’ll need hospitalization. In this case, you’ll receive the necessary care in the clinic as well as a detailed individual plan of the delivery which takes into account your high blood pressure during pregnancy. During the delivery, the doctor most likely will give you epidural anesthesia.
By the end of the pregnancy, medical experts will offer you another hospitalization aimed at the correction of blood pressure before childbirth.
There are also foods which can reduce blood pressure during pregnancy. Of course, changing your diet won’t solve the problem completely, but it’s a good preventive measure. Try eating more beet and cranberries – they are also a great source of vitamins!
Another remedy is pumpkin porridge with honey. Prepare at low heat 0.5 lb. of pumpkin slices with a little water. When the porridge cools down, add honey. You can feel a little better after eating this salad: raw beet, cabbage, and carrot mixed in equal proportions with olive oil dressing.
Avoid drinking strong tea and coffee, eating chocolate – these products are strictly forbidden if you have high blood pressure during pregnancy. But a cup of red tea will make you feel better. You may also try mild sedatives – valerian, motherwort; or a cool shower.