High blood pressure in pregnancy is a serious health concern. Blood pressure refers to the level of force exerted by the gush of blood against the blood vessels. An individual’s blood pressure is regarded as high once the readings reach more than 140 mm Hg over 90 mm Hg. Also known as hypertension, high blood pressure may lead to the development of stroke, heart failure, coronary heart problems and kidney diseases.
How to Recognize High Blood Pressure while Pregnant
Even though many expectant moms who experience hypertension have healthy newborns without severe health problems, high blood pressure during pregnancy can be a chronic condition for both mom and baby. Women who have pre-existing hypertension are more vulnerable to have health complications during pregnancy, compared to those with normal blood pressure.
However, some women may develop hypertension while expecting a child, which is usually referred to as gestational high blood pressure. The effects of hypertension may range from mild to serious, because the condition may damage the kidneys and other vital organs as well as causing the baby to be underweight and premature delivery.
Although there are available self hypertension test kits available today, it is still recommended to consult a doctor when you experience symptoms of hypertension such as recurring headaches, blurry vision, abdominal pain particularly on the right side, and sudden weight gain. Bear in mind that only your doctor can provide you the numbers for high blood pressure while pregnant, and that really depends if you have a reliable doctor or not.
Chronic High Blood Pressure and Its Effects
In most severe cases of chronic hypertension, the mother may develop preeclampsia that can endanger the lives of both mom and baby. Preeclampsia is a pregnancy-related condition that often begins during the week 20 of pregnancy and is often diagnosed because of hypertension and excessive protein in the woman’s urine, which is the result of kidney problems.
The effects of chronic high blood pressure include damages to the placenta, the woman’s liver, kidney and brain. If preeclampsia leads to seizures, the condition is regarded as eclampsia, which is one of the leading causes of maternal mortality in the United States. This chronic condition is also a primary cause fetal complication that includes premature birth and even fetal mortality.
Unfortunately, there is no single effective way to avoid preeclampsia. However, most women who have signs of this condition are closely monitored to control high BP and to avoid related problems. The only known way to treat the condition is to deliver the baby safely.
Effects Of High Blood Pressure On Baby
High blood pressure and pregnancy has numerous negative effects. Babies whose moms have hypertension usually grow more slowly, because of low levels of amniotic fluid. If there is protein in the urine, which indicates preeclampsia, the woman’s liver may not properly work. Further, the blood may not properly clot because of lower platelet count, there could be insufficient urine supply, and the mother may even suffer from heart problems. These conditions affect the growth and development of the baby.
If you are prescribed to take medication for high blood pressure, you need to consult your doctor about the drug intake. For example, if you are taking ACE inhibitors, it may be recommended to switch to a safer medicine, because there are types of medicines that may be harmful to the baby.
If you have high blood pressure, your doctor may prescribe non-stress exams such as a biophysical profile to control high BP in pregnancy, determine whether the placenta is just fine and the baby is growing healthily. Based on the hypertension level and the gestational age of the fetus, premature delivery may be recommended.
Ways To Control High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy
If you have received medical care for high blood pressure before pregnancy, there is a high chance that your doctor already discussed your plans to be pregnant including the ways to control high BP in pregnancy. Aside from changing hypertensive drugs during pregnancy, you may also be referred to a perinatologist or a doctor who specializes in high-risk conception.
During your first visit with your doctor, be sure to tell everything you know about your risks of hypertension such as the symptoms you experience, which exams you have taken and what drugs you have been administered before pregnancy.
Meanwhile, you need to mind your sodium intake during your pregnancy. Stay away from any form of salt as well as processed or preserved food, and always remember to check the product labels for salt content. If you never had any type of dietary counseling or you don’t know how to control your sodium intake within the recommended amount, you can ask a dietitian who can work out a diet plan that is catered for you and your baby’s needs.
Your doctor may also recommend avoiding strenuous activities as well as aerobics. If you are a smoker or an alcoholic, this is the time to consider stopping, because these activities can increase blood pressure while pregnant.
Ways To Control High Blood Pressure After Pregnancy
Just like during pregnancy, it is also very crucial to control blood pressure after pregnancy. Regular medical check-up is recommended to monitor hypertension. It is also recommended to consult again a dietitian to work out a diet plan that is helpful in controlling the levels of blood pressure. Usually, the diet plan is composed of foods that are rich in magnesium such as almonds, spinach, fish, oatmeal, pumpkin seeds, and even controlled amounts of chocolate. Magnesium is helpful in controlling hypertension because it can relax blood vessels.
It is also recommended to increase intake of foods that are rich in potassium such as banana, yogurt, avocados, oranges, and raisins. Meanwhile, the omega-3 fatty acids that are present in certain types of fishes can also relax blood vessels and protect the mother from the effects of hypertension after pregnancy. Be sure to add fish to your diet such as herring, anchovies, and salmon. However, it is recommended to avoid certain types of fishes such as mackerel, halibut, and sea bass because they are high in mercury content, which can also result to high blood pressure.
Some Potassium Rich Foods