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stress busters Blood Pressure Changes During Pregnancy: A Detailed Understanding

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Pregnancy is a unique and beautiful journey to motherhood. Although the memories last for a lifetime, the preparations to welcome a healthy baby start long before the delivery. In such a scenario, where the body is going through several changes, maintaining blood pressure can be an uphill task. If already diagnosed with high blood pressure, it can prove to be fatal unless monitored regularly. Even then, there is a possibility of health complications for the mother and the unborn baby.

Before we move on to the precautions, let us learn how to track blood pressure during pregnancy, how it can be measured, and blood pressure values that are considered normal, high, or low.

There are two values of blood pressure: systolic (when your heart is beating) and diastolic (when your heart is at rest). The higher value denotes systolic blood pressure, and the lower one indicates diastolic blood pressure.

During pregnancy, your blood pressure is measured at every visit to the doctor. When the value is equal to or less than 140/90 mmHg, it is considered as normal blood pressure. When the blood pressure increases above 140/90 mmHg i.e. the systolic value is above 140 mmHg, and/or the diastolic value is above 90 mmHg – it is considered as high blood pressure (hypertension). High blood pressure is a cause for worry especially during pregnancy, where it can be dangerous for both mother and child.

Blood pressure in pregnancy can be higher as well as lower than the normal.

Low Blood Pressure

As for low blood pressure, there is no precise number to look out for, but if you notice any of the following symptoms, you need to consult your doctor right away. Symptoms may include:

  • LightheadednessLightheadedness
  • NauseaNausea
  • Dizziness / giddinessDizziness / Giddiness
  • Cold, clammy skinCold, Clammy Skin
  • Shallow, rapid breathingShallow, Rapid Breathing
  • Blurred visionBlurred Vision
  • Increased thirstIncreased Thirst

Causes of low blood pressure may be multiple, but a few important ones are listed below.

  • Allergic Reactions
  • Infections
  • Prolonged Bedrest
  • Dehydration
  • Malnutrition
  • Internal Bleeding
  • Anemia (Low Hemoglobin Levels)
  • Heart Conditions
  • Endocrine Disorders
  • Ectopic Pregnancy (Pregnancy Occurring in Other Sites Than The Womb)
  • Standing Up Too Quickly

High Blood Pressure
There are several possible causes of high blood pressure during pregnancy, and they include the following:

  • Age (If you’re above 35 years)Age (If You’re Above 35 Years)
  • First-time pregnancyFirst-time Pregnancy
  • Family history of pregnancy-related high blood pressure (pregnancy-induced hypertension)Family History of Pregnancy-related High Blood Pressure (Pregnancy-induced Hypertension)
  • Diabetes and other autoimmune diseasesDiabetes And Other Autoimmune Diseases
  • ObesityObesity
  • Sedentary lifestyleSedentary Lifestyle
  • SmokingSmoking
  • Alcohol IntakeAlcohol Intake
  • Assistive reproductive technology like IVFAssistive Reproductive Technology Like IVF

These are the risk factors for high blood pressure during pregnancy and can eventually cause health complications if you do not seek immediate medical help or guidance.

There are three different types of high blood pressure conditions that a woman may encounter during pregnancy.

  • Chronic Hypertension:Chronic HypertensionChronic hypertension refers to a pre-existing high blood pressure condition, even before pregnancy, the one that is diagnosed within the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, or does not resolve by the 12-week after delivery. It is treated with medications.
  • Gestational Hypertension:Gestational HypertensionIt is a type of hypertension (BP levels ≥140/90 mmHg on two different times, usually 4 hours apart) that develops after the 20th week of pregnancy in a woman with previously normal blood pressure and without proteinuria (loss of proteins in the urine).
  • Chronic Hypertension with Superimposed Preeclampsia:Chronic HypertensionWomen with chronic hypertension before pregnancy can develop preeclampsia, a condition that occurs when women experience protein in their urine or additional health complications (such as impaired kidney function, accumulation of fluid in lower limbs and lungs, or new-onset headache) as the pregnancy progresses.

What Are The Reasons for High Blood Pressure Changes During Pregnancy?
What Are The Reasons for High Blood Pressure Changes During Pregnancy?The primary reason behind blood pressure fluctuations during pregnancy is the fact that the amount of blood in a woman’s body increases, by about 45%, according to one study. Therefore, the pumping of blood to the rest of the body increases by a significant margin. Since the left ventricle (left side of the heart) does most of the pumping of blood, it becomes thicker than usual. It makes the heart work harder to pump all the extra blood in the body. The kidneys retain excess water due to the release of vasopressin (a hormone that helps reabsorb water from kidneys) in increased amounts.

Given its temporary nature, in case of high blood pressure during pregnancy, it usually decreases post delivery of the baby. If the blood pressure remains high, your doctor will prescribe high blood pressure medication to lower its value.

Avoiding these pregnancy-related blood pressure conditions is possible if you regularly monitor your blood pressure. You can track your blood pressure in-between your doctor visits with the help of a digital blood pressure monitor, available at a pharmacy near you.

Other than regularly monitoring your blood pressure during pregnancy, you can take the following precautions.

PREVENT HIGH BP DURING PREGNANCY WITH THESE PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES

Pregnant Lady
Arrow 2
Arrow 1
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Practice regularPractice regular
exercise and adopt
a healthy diet

Plan your daily dietPlan your daily diet
by consulting a
qualified nutritionist
appointed by your doctor

Quit smoking and alcoholQuit smoking
and alcohol

Practice stressPractice stress
management techniques
like Yoga and Meditation
to balance hormonal
shifts and physical stress

You can check out other stress management techniques to lower high blood pressure, right here: Stress Management: An Essential Lifestyle Change To Control High BP.

In general, careful monitoring of blood pressure and specific lifestyle changes can lower your risk of developing health complications due to high blood pressure during your pregnancy. If you notice signs and symptoms of high blood pressure or have the slightest suspicion, visit your doctor at the earliest to avoid any life-threatening complications for yourself and your baby. Just maintain a healthy lifestyle with regular physical activity for a smooth pregnancy and delivery. If you have any more questions, feel free to get in touch with an expert doctor nearest to you. Use our “Find a physician” service to get in touch with a doctor immediately.

Note of Caution: This article is for information purposes only. Always consult your doctor in case of any blood pressure or other health-related problems.

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Comments (8)

Gunjan

Hi, I was diagnosed with high blood pressure before my pregnancy. Will it cause any complications during delivery?

BPinControl

Hello, your doctor will be able to guide you better because every pregnancy differs. Although there are a lot of risk factors involved with pregnancy, if you have high blood pressure, it can have severe health complications if you don’t seek medical help on time. Therefore, if you are already diagnosed with hypertension, our advice to you is to check with your doctor regarding the monitoring of your blood pressure and medications if any. It is essential to be on top of things when it comes to high blood pressure during pregnancy as you are responsible for your health as well as your unborn child’s health. You can speak with our qualified cardiologists by visiting the following link: Find A Physician and get an expert opinion on how to proceed.

Chinmayi

Is there a way I can monitor my blood pressure at home during my pregnancy than visiting the doctor every time?

BPinControl

Hello, yes there is a way to avoid visiting the doctor every time you want to measure your blood pressure. Although your doctor will measure your blood pressure every time you visit during your pregnancy, you can still track it at home with the help of a digital blood pressure monitor which gives you the nearest accurate results. You can still consult your doctor over the phone in case you find the values to be fluctuating or pay the doctor a visit. Either way, before making any alterations in your routine or choosing to opt for any over-the-counter methods like monitoring your BP at home, consulting your doctor is a must. You can either consult one of our qualified physicians right here: Find A Physician.

Kanthan

What measures can I take to avoid high blood pressure altogether during my pregnancy?

BPinControl

Hello, to begin, with you can maintain a healthy lifestyle that includes regular physical activity, provided it’s approved by your doctor, and eating a nutritious diet. High blood pressure is a lifestyle disease which can be controlled with a few habitual changes. For example, smoking and alcohol intake is strictly prohibited during pregnancy. Avoid physical and mental stress as well by practicing stress management techniques like yoga and meditation. However, before you incorporate any of these lifestyle habits into your daily routine, check with a qualified doctor who can guide you properly during the whole process. To consult our expert physicians, visit the following link: Find A Physician.

Yuvishka

Hi, just wanted to check what factors can lead to high blood pressure during pregnancy?

BPinControl

During pregnancy, due to the different bodily changes, there is a good chance of blood pressure fluctuations. You can either be affected with high blood pressure or low blood pressure depending on how your body is reacting to these changes. Moreover, risk factors like age, family history of pregnancy-related blood pressure, other autoimmune diseases, obesity, and a sedentary lifestyle among others have a huge role to play in how your pregnancy pans out. Therefore, if you are pregnant or are looking to become pregnant soon, consult a qualified doctor who can guide you with respect to these factors. You can consult one of our qualified physicians right here: Find A Physician.

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