It’s time to hit the awareness button on this national health issue for women. Having high blood pressure during pregnancy can put both mother and baby at risk for problems. High blood pressure in pregnant women in the United States almost doubled between 1993 and 2014, according to the CDC.
The good news from the CDC is that high blood pressure is preventable and treatable. High blood pressure is very common. In the United States, it happens in 1 in every 12 to 17 pregnancies among women ages 20 to 44.
The first step is talking with your healthcare provider about any pressure problems you may have faced in the past or currently experiencing. Learn the risk factors, signs, and symptoms so you can take action to keep your pressure in check.
The CDC advises that getting treatment for high blood pressure is important before, during, and after pregnancy. With good pressure control, you and your baby are more likely to stay healthy.
Are there risks?
There are several risk factors that women should be aware of including:
- If you have a history of high blood pressure before pregnancy
- Had Preeclampsia or high blood pressure during a previous pregnancy
- Diabetes or kidney disease
- An autoimmune disease (lupus)
- If you are a teen or over age 40
- Were obese before you got pregnant
- Are African American
- Having your first baby
- Carrying more than one baby
What are the symptoms?
According to an overview of Preeclampsia, from the Mayo Clinic, this problem may begin with no symptoms, develop slowly, or be a sudden onset. Watch for the following symptoms:
- Excess protein in the urine
- Severe headaches
- Changes in vision, including temporary loss of vision, blurred vision, or light sensitivity
- Upper abdominal pain (usually under the ribs on the right side)
- Nausea or vomiting
- Decreased urine output
- Decreased levels of platelets in the blood
- Impaired liver function
- Shortness of breath, caused by fluid in the lungs
Sudden weight gain and swelling — particularly in the face in hands may also occur. But this may also occur in many normal pregnancies.
In rare cases, preeclampsia can happen after you have given birth during the postpartum period. This is a serious medical condition that may occur within 48 hours after delivery but can happen up to 6 weeks later according to the CDC.
How to lower your pressure during pregnancy?
- Limit salt intake
- Stay hydrated
- Eat a balanced diet: rich in plant-based food — low in processed foods
- Get regular exercise
- Get regular prenatal checkups
- Avoid smoking and alcohol
What to do during these stages?
Before becoming pregnant, the CDC recommends talking with your doctor about any health problems you have had or medications you are currently taking. Keeping a healthy weight through healthy eating and regular physical activity.
If you are pregnant, get early and regular prenatal care, go to every appointment, talk with your doctor about your medications. Don’t start any medications (including over the counter) without talking with a member of your healthcare team.
Keep track of your blood pressure with an at-home pressure monitor. Contact your doctor if your blood pressure is higher than normal or you have symptoms of preeclampsia. Continue to eat healthy foods and keep a healthy weight.
After pregnancy, pay attention to how you feel for about 6 weeks after delivery. If you had high blood pressure during pregnancy, you have a higher risk for stroke and other problems after the pregnancy. In the event of this postpartum problem, talk with your doctor right away or call 9-1-1 if you experience any symptoms.
The information on this site is intended to raise awareness, and understanding of specific health issues. It should not be used for diagnosis or a substitute for health care by your physician.