Your blood pressure isn’t always a dangerous feat to conquer. However, it is important to keep on top of it during your pregnancy especially if you are experiencing high blood pressure. According to Liz Pidgley, Information Line Nurse for The BPA, "one in 10 first time mums will have some form of high blood pressure during their pregnancy". Blood pressure levels may also increase and decrease after you deliver your baby which makes it vital to monitor it closely postpartum, too.
There is plenty to learn about blood pressure and its effects on your pregnancy. If you are experiencing high or low blood pressure during your pregnancy, the more you learn about it, the more you can stay on top of it.
Normal blood pressure can be subjective based on your history. Your doctor will track your blood pressure over the course of a few weeks to determine a baseline to find your “normal”. However, a standard blood pressure reading is usually 120/80 mm Hg.
High blood pressure is defined by a blood pressure of 140/90 mm Hg. Sometimes, high blood pressure may arise prior to your pregnancy or it may be stimulated throughout your pregnancy. Either way, it’s important to note the different forms of high blood pressure.
High blood pressure does, luckily, show signs before it can become a major concern. If you experience the following symptoms, you may want to consult your physician to monitor your blood pressure.
In many cases, high blood pressure can be hereditary. However, the NHLBI has noted that there are some factors that contribute to higher blood pressure.
Having high blood pressure alters the way in which blood is pumped throughout your system. If your body isn’t getting the right access to the nutrients it needs, your baby will be affected too.
The risks of high blood pressure include:
Your doctor will most likely diagnose you with low blood pressure when your readings are consistently below 90 mm Hg/ 60 mm Hg.
While low blood pressure may not be as troublesome as having high blood pressure, it can reduce your quality of life and overall comfort. Having low blood pressure may be the cause for the following symptoms:
Low blood pressure can be caused by a number of completely normal activities like standing up too fast. However, pregnant women may notice a decrease in their blood pressure from the following causes:
Luckily, having low blood pressure isn’t as dangerous to you or your baby’s health as having high blood pressure is. Unlike high blood pressure, low blood pressure alone hasn’t been documented to have any direct effects on your baby.
However, it may reduce the quality of your life. Frequent fainting spells may increase your chances of injury and the loss of blood circulation can create internal issues.
One of the main risks associated with low blood pressure is the potential for organ damage. The loss of blood circulation can limit the amount of blood reaching your baby. According to NCBI, there is a small amount of research which correlates continuous low blood pressure with a negative outcome of the pregnancy.
Overall, it’s important to note that low blood pressure alone does not usually lead to any serious complications for you or your baby.
Luckily, in today’s age, there are many ways for you to keep on top of your blood pressure during your pregnancy. You can look to purchase a blood pressure monitor online or from your local pharmacy. On the other hand, you can visit your pharmacy for them to take blood pressure readings.
If you have repeated low or high readings, it’s vital that you consult your physician. Your physician will be able to determine the best way forward and if medication will be necessary to treat your condition.
Dr Beverley (MBChB, MRCGP) is a qualified GP. She works in a GP practice in Manchester and also helps in the out of hours GP service. She has experience in both obstetrics & gynaecology and paediatrics and has three children of her own.
Click here to read more articles by Dr Beverley Sanders
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