What Every Woman Should Know About Blood Pressure During Pregnancy

What Every Woman Should Know About Blood Pressure During Pregnancy

Monitoring your blood pressure is important throughout life, especially given that high numbers can often come with no symptoms. Knowing your stats is even more crucial during pregnancy, as elevated readings can affect both your health and the health of your unborn baby.

At Habersham OBGYN in Demorest, Georgia, Dr. Thomas Hatchett and Britteny Barron, our midwife nurse practitioner, provide integrative care that is state-of-the-art. Whether you need preventive services, assistance with a health issue or are expecting and looking for a partner as you travel the road to new parenthood, we will be by your side in a personalized, compassionate partnership.

Blood pressure

Blood pressure is measured using two numbers and indicates the force of blood pressing against the arteries as it flows from the heart to the lungs and on to the organs and tissues. The first, known as the systolic blood pressure, is the amount of pressure being put against the arteries when the heart contracts. The diastolic blood pressure, or second number, indicates the amount of pressure between contractions when the heart relaxes.

High blood pressure, or hypertension, occurs when the pressure is greater than it should be and puts an individual at risk of serious health problems. It is particularly dangerous because often, there are no symptoms or indication of anything being wrong.

Types

There are multiple types of hypertension during pregnancy. Chronic hypertension occurs when high blood pressure exists before a woman becomes pregnant or begins during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. When chronic hypertension worsens, it may develop into chronic hypertension with superimposed preeclampsia including protein in the urine or other problems.

Gestational hypertension happens when high blood pressure occurs after the twentieth week of pregnancy but does not have any signs of issues with the organs. Finally, when hypertension begins after twenty weeks of pregnancy and includes indications of damage to organs, it is known as preeclampsia.

Dangers of high blood pressure

Hypertension during pregnancy can be dangerous for the baby and mother. It can prevent the placenta from getting enough blood, which could mean not as much oxygen and nutrients getting to the baby. This could result in slower growth, a low birth weight, or a premature birth. There could also be a placental abruption, where the placenta comes away from the uterus's inner wall prematurely. This can cause heavy bleeding and be life-threatening for both the woman and baby.

Injury to a variety of major organs like the kidneys, liver, brain, heart, eyes, and lungs can also result from hypertension. If the blood pressure gets too high, sometimes the baby must be delivered early to prevent potentially deadly complications. 

Finally, preeclampsia can increase a woman's risk of cardiovascular disease in the future.

Diagnosis and monitoring

Having blood pressure monitored regularly during pregnancy is important so any problems can be detected early. While often there are no symptoms, some women may experience such issues as severe headaches, changes in vision, nausea, vomiting, or shortness of breath. Suddenly swelling or gaining weight, especially in the face and hands, may also indicate preeclampsia.

Keeping blood pressure levels from getting too high during pregnancy is crucial for a healthy outcome. Whether you're seeking a healthcare practitioner who can help monitor you throughout your pregnancy or already have high blood pressure and are looking for medical help to manage it, we can help. Call our office at 706-229-4718 for an appointment today or book one online.

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