It’s important to know upon discovering you are pregnant of the many different risks and side effects. Pregnancy can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. However, it can present certain discomfort and effects on the body. Knowing these things is essential in protecting the health of the developing baby, and its mother. One thing that about 6-8% of pregnant women experience is Gestational Hypertension. This is a condition characterized by high blood pressure during pregnancy that typically presents itself after 20 weeks in. Gestational hypertension can lead to a serious condition called preeclampsia which is a pregnancy complication in which high blood pressure can cause damage to organs such as the liver and kidneys. It’s important to consult with your doctor during this time in order to have a safe pregnancy.
Symptoms and Types
Gestational Hypertension is a normal symptom of pregnancy that should be watched and treated carefully by your midwife or doctor. Women with kidney disease or diabetes are more likely to develop the condition, as are women who are pregnant with multiples. Common symptoms of this include headaches, dizziness, protein in the urine, and abdominal pain.
During pregnancy, high blood pressure can present itself in a few different ways. The 3 most common types include:
- Chronic hypertension- Women who have high blood pressure (over 140/90) before pregnancy, early in pregnancy (before 20 weeks), or continue to have it after delivery.
- Gestational Hypertension- High blood pressure that develops after week 20 in pregnancy and goes away after delivery.
- Preeclampsia- Both Chronic Hypertension and Gestational Hypertension can lead to this severe condition after week 20 of pregnancy. Symptoms include high blood pressure and protein in the urine. This can lead to serious complications for both mom and baby if not treated quickly.
If you are more at risk of developing Gestational Hypertension, you must consult with a doctor before or when you become pregnant. Those most at risk are:
- First-time moms
- Women whose sisters and mothers had PIH
- Women carrying multiples
- Women younger than age 20 or older than age 40
- Women who had high blood pressure or kidney disease before pregnancy
Treatment and Prevention
Treating Gestational Hypertension solely depends on how far along into your pregnancy you are. If you are close to your due date and the baby is developed enough, your health care provider may want to deliver your baby as soon as possible. If you have mild hypertension and your baby is not fully developed, your doctor will probably recommend bed-rest, more checkups, a lower salt diet, upping water intake. If the condition is severe, your doctor may advise you to safely go on blood pressure medication.
To learn about ways to prevent Gestational Hypertension, consult with your doctor about the right diet and exercise routine for you. Some ways you can help prevent Gestational Hypertension include the following:
- Use less salt
- Up water intake
- Increase protein intake, and decrease the use of fried and junk foods
- Get an adequate amount of sleep
- Exercise regularly
- Elevate your feet multiple times a day
- Avoid drinking alcohol
- Avoid caffeine
Talk to A Midwife
Gestational Hypertension can affect both you and your baby. Sometimes, symptoms may even last after birth. This is why it’s important to consult a professional if you are at risk, or are developing symptoms during your pregnancy. At City of Oaks Midwifery, we believe in caring for the whole woman in all stages of her life. If you have any questions about Gestational Hypertension, we are here to help. Call (919) 351-8253 to make an appointment at our Raleigh, NC midwifery practice.