Different Types Of High Blood Pressure In Pregnancy
There are 3 types of high blood pressure during pregnancy:
- Chronic hypertension: This is when you already had high blood pressure before you fell pregnant for example if you already had a medical condition such as kidney disease. Chronic hypertension also refers to when your high blood pressure is diagnosed in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. Some women with chronic hypertension may develop pre-eclampsia when they are pregnant.
- Pregnancy-induced hypertension: This is high blood pressure that is diagnosed after 20 weeks of pregnancy. It is also called gestational hypertension.
- Pre-eclampsia: Pre-eclampsia is a serious condition that only occurs in pregnant women. As well as high blood pressure, it can also affect the kidneys, liver, blood and brain.
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What Are High Blood Pressure Complications During Pregnancy
Complications from high blood pressure for the mother and infant can include the following:
- For the mother:preeclampsiaexternal icon, eclampsiaexternal icon, stroke, the need for labor induction , and placental abruption .1,4,5
- For the baby:preterm delivery and low birth weight .1,6 The mothers high blood pressure makes it more difficult for the baby to get enough oxygen and nutrients to grow, so the mother may have to deliver the baby early.
Discuss blood pressure problems with your health care team before, during, and after pregnancy.
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From Low Risk To High Risk
Hypertension-related maternal mortality in the U.S. affects 2.1 per 100,000 live births, with Black women nearly 4 times as likely as white women to die from a hypertension-related condition during pregnancy. Patients with chronic hypertension, overweight or obesity, diabetes, a previous pregnancy with preeclampsia, or who smoke are known to be at higher risk for hypertension-related problems during pregnancy and were excluded from the study. The new study identified pregnant patients who are considered to be low risk but then go on to develop hypertension-related complications.
There is a normal physiological blood pressure response to pregnancy which includes a dip in your blood pressure in the second trimester, said Greenberg. This occurs because as the placenta starts to develop in the first and second trimester of pregnancy, it produces hormones that cause the blood vessels to be more relaxed in order to bring more blood to the uterus and the fetus. When patients dont experience this, they might have something going on in their body that could put them at increased risk of developing a high blood pressure condition later in pregnancy, Greenberg added.
Our study shows that a woman with normal blood pressure that increases or shows little or no decline during the first half of pregnancy is at substantially higher risk of developing a hypertensive disorder of pregnancy in the second half of pregnancy.
Erica P. Gunderson, PhD, MS, MPH
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Who Is At Risk For Preeclampsia
You are at higher risk of preeclampsia if you:
- Had chronic high blood pressure or chronic kidney disease before pregnancy
- Had high blood pressure or preeclampsia in a previous pregnancy
- Damage to your kidneys, liver, brain, and other organ and blood systems
- A higher risk of heart disease for you
- Eclampsia, which happens when preeclampsia is severe enough to affect brain function, causing seizures or coma
- HELLP syndrome, which happens when a woman with preeclampsia or eclampsia has damage to the liver and blood cells. It is rare, but very serious.
How Is Preeclampsia Treated
Your healthcare provider will advise you on the best way to treat preeclampsia. Treatment generally depends on how severe your preeclampsia is and how far along you are in pregnancy.
If you’re close to full term , your baby will probably be delivered early. You can still have a vaginal delivery, but sometimes a Cesarean delivery is recommended. Your healthcare provider may give you medication to help your baby’s lungs develop and manage your blood pressure until the baby can be delivered. Sometimes it is safer to deliver the baby early than to risk prolonging the pregnancy.
When preeclampsia develops earlier in pregnancy, you’ll be monitored closely in an effort to prolong the pregnancy and allow for the fetus to grow and develop. You’ll have more prenatal appointments, including ultrasounds, urine tests and blood draws. You may be asked to check your blood pressure at home. If you are diagnosed with severe preeclampsia, you could remain in the hospital until you deliver your baby.
If the preeclampsia worsens or becomes more severe, your baby will need to be delivered.
During labor and following delivery, people with preeclampsia are often given magnesium intravenously to prevent the development of eclampsia .
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Are High Blood Pressure Medications Safe While Pregnant
Many high blood pressure medications are safe to take during pregnancy, but not all, so talk with your healthcare provider if you’re on medication and you become or plan to become pregnant. A preconception visit is the ideal time to address your current medications and optimize your health prior to pregnancy.
Important: Don’t stop taking your blood pressure medication during pregnancy unless your provider tells you to. Your provider will prescribe safe medications to help keep your blood pressure under control.
If you develop high blood pressure during pregnancy, talk with your provider about the best medication option for you. The risks of untreated high blood pressure are much higher than the risks of medication.
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How Is High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy Diagnosed
No one test diagnoses high blood pressure while pregnant. Instead, your doctor will take your blood pressure at each of your prenatal appointments. He or she will keep track of your blood pressure readings during your pregnancy and be able to spot any changes that could indicate an overall problem. He or she will also use urine and blood tests to watch for possible issues.
Normal Bp Changes In Pregnancy
Your heart, blood vessels, and blood volume change a lot during pregnancy. Why? To nourish and grow your unborn baby. The amount of blood in your body doubles, and so does the work of your heart muscle. To accommodate the extra blood and keep your blood pressure normal, your blood vessels relax.
These changes happen at slightly different stages. Blood pressure drops a little in the second trimester as the blood vessels relax. By the third trimester, most pregnant women see a slight and normal increase in blood pressure.
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What Are The Most Common Complications Of Preeclampsia
If left untreated, preeclampsia can be potentially fatal to both you and your baby.
Before delivery, the most common complications are preterm birth, low birth weight or placental abruption.
Preeclampsia can cause HELLP syndrome . This happens when preeclampsia damages your liver and red blood cells and interferes with blood clotting. Other signs of HELLP syndrome are blurry vision, chest pain, headaches and nosebleeds.
After you’ve delivered your baby, you may be at an increased risk for:
- Kidney disease.
- Developing preeclampsia in future pregnancies.
Strange Early Pregnancy Symptoms: Final Thoughts
In conclusion, theres heaps of strange early pregnancy symptoms. Some are weirder and more uncommon then others, some may be experienced in isolation, others can happen all together. Some are very similar to pre-menstrual symptoms and can be very confusing!
Its so hard to tell Some women report having a six sense and they say they just knew they were pregnant.
Another very weird symptom that I havent listed above because it usually doesnt happen until the 5th month or pregnancy, its the appearance of a dark line on your belly called linea nigra, and you can find out more about it here. However, some women have seen it appear on their belly from 5 or 6 weeks of pregnancy.
That said, he only way to know for sure is to do a pregnancy test. And there are early pregnancy tests that could pick up pregnancy hormones as early as 8 days after conception!
If, after reading all these stories, you realize you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms and think you could be pregnant, I would recommend doing a test straight away
For ways to announce pregnancy, check out these related posts:
For more related articles on how to survive pregnancy:
Are you a mom thats experienced any of the signs listed above? Or have you experienced another early pregnancy symptom that you think should be added to the list? If so, please let me know and share your story in the comment below!
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Types Of High Blood Pressure Disorders During And After Pregnancy
If you have high blood pressure before pregnancy, it will need to be managed during and after pregnancy.
In addition, some women who have a healthy blood pressure develop high blood pressure during or after pregnancy.
- Gestational hypertension is blood pressure greater than or equal to 140/90 that develops during pregnancy. Its typically diagnosed after 20 weeks of pregnancy or close to delivery.
- Preeclampsia is a combination of high blood pressure during pregnancy and signs that your organs are not working well, such as high protein levels in your urine. This can lead to life-threatening seizures or coma, a condition known as eclampsia. Women who have had preeclampsia have a higher risk of developing high blood pressure and heart disease later in life.
- HELLP syndrome is a more severe type of preeclampsia or eclampsia.
- High blood pressure disorders may continue after the baby is born. Some women may continue to have high blood pressure problems, including preeclampsia, eclampsia, or HELLP syndrome, after the birth of their child, or their high blood pressure may get worse.
- A sudden spike in blood pressure can also happen during pregnancy or after the baby is born. This is a medical emergency.
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Is It Dangerous For The Baby
It is vital that high blood pressure is recognized and treated as soon as possible in pregnancy.
This is because high blood pressure can lead to problems in the heart and circulatory system of the baby .
High blood pressure can affect your babys growth and development.
Pregnant women with high blood pressure have been found to deliver babies with smaller heads and smaller hearts than women who dont have high blood pressure.
If you already have high blood pressure then it is essential that you reduce your level of fluid intake, modify your medication , exercise more, and get your blood pressure checked regularly by a doctor.
However, some experts advise mothers with high blood pressure to continue taking their medications as prescribed by their physician because it can lower the babys chance of survival
Complications Of High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy
Most expecting moms with high blood pressure do just fine. If you have chronic hypertension, you and your caregiver will likely be able to manage it with lifestyle changes, medication, and close monitoring for complications.
Most women who get gestational hypertension have only a mild form of the condition and don’t develop it until near the end of pregnancy. If you’re in this category, you have a somewhat higher risk of having labor induced. But other than that, you and your baby are likely to do as well as you would if you had normal blood pressure.
But sometimes high blood pressure results in a decreased blood flow to your baby, which means they may not get enough nutrients and oxygen to grow properly. The more severe your high blood pressure and the earlier in pregnancy it appears, the greater your risk for problems. There’s also a greater risk of complications if you’ve had high blood pressure for a long time and it has damaged your heart, kidneys, or other organs. The risks are also higher for women with high blood pressure that’s caused by another medical condition, such as diabetes or kidney disease.
High blood pressure risks during pregnancy include:
If your high blood pressure develops into preeclampsia, you’re at risk of:
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Risks Of High Blood Pressure In Pregnancy
High blood pressure during pregnancy puts you at risk of:
Fluid in other parts of your body It can also put you at risk of a serious complication called placental abruption and complications when giving birth.
High blood pressure can also affect your unborn babys growth and health. When the moms blood pressure runs high, this affects how much oxygen and nutrients are delivered to the growing baby. Unborn babies affected by high maternal blood pressure are more likely to be born preterm and underweight.
For the birth
Pregnancy-induced hypertension raises your risk of having an early delivery or a C-section.
What Can Be Detected In A Pregnancy Ultrasound
A prenatal ultrasound does two things:
- Evaluates the overall health, growth and development of the fetus.
- Detects certain complications and medical conditions related to pregnancy.
In most pregnancies, ultrasounds are positive experiences and pregnancy care providers dont find any problems. However, there are times this isnt the case and your provider detects birth disorders or other problems with the pregnancy.
Reasons why your provider performs a prenatal ultrasound are to:
- Confirm youre pregnant.
- Examine your pelvic organs like your uterus, ovaries and cervix.
- Examine how much amniotic fluid you have.
- Check the location of the placenta.
- Check your babys position in your uterus.
- Detect problems with your babys organs, muscles or bones.
Ultrasound is also an important tool to help providers screen for congenital conditions . A screening is a type of test that determines if your baby is more likely to have a specific health condition. Your provider also uses ultrasound to guide the needle during certain diagnostic procedures in pregnancy like amniocentesis or CVS .
An ultrasound is also part of a biophysical profile , a test that combines ultrasound with a nonstress test to evaluate if your baby is getting enough oxygen.
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