Pregnancy induced high blood pressure is not unusual in pregnancy. Even if you had normal blood pressure before conception or in early pregnancy, there is a chance of you developing hypertension during the later part of the pregnancy period. A slight rise is considered normal and usually occurs after week 28 and goes away after baby is born. It cannot be felt because there are no symptoms to hypertension but BP readings can reflect the severity as outlined below:
- Mild high BP is a diastolic pressure between 90 and 99
- Moderate high BP is a diastolic pressure between 100 and 109
- Severe high BP is a diastolic pressure above 110
A slight rise in the systolic level is not as bad as a rise in diastolic pressure; however if the systolic level shoots to above 160 level then you have reason to worry. High BP harms the mother's organs and causes low birth weight or preterm delivery. In its most severe form, it can trigger preeclampsia which is life threatening for both mother and baby.
- You have gestational high BP if your reading is at 140/90 or higher but there are no traces of protein in your urine. It can progress to preeclampsia - which would mean there is a rise in your BP level and now you have protein in your urine and other symptoms that merit your doctor's immediate attention and close supervision.
- If you develop mild version of this problem at week 37 or later, chances of labor being induced or a possible c-section will be on the cards.
- If you have not hit week 37, you will be hospitalized and if everything is going ok with both mother and baby, you will be discharged and but put on bed rest and closely monitored with nonstress tests, ultrasounds and daily kick counts.
- If your case is severe, then you may require to be hospitalized until delivery.
- If you are at week 34 and beyond you will be induced or undergo a c-section.
- If your pregnancy is not mature enough you will be given corticosteroids which will help speed up the development of baby's lungs and stall other problems. If baby is responding well to the drug and you are in no danger, with close monitoring, your delivery will be postponed to a later date until baby is more mature.
There isn't much you can do to prevent gestational hypertension during pregnancy apart from controlling your weight and including moderate exercises in your daily routine.
Systolic and diastolic blood pressure explained...
Blood pressure readings are given in 2 numbers. The top number is systolic blood pressure reading. It represents the maximum pressure exerted when the heart contracts. The bottom number is the diastolic reading which represents the pressure in the arteries when the heart is resting. These pressure readings are measured in millimeters of mercury or mmHg. An example of how it is recorded: 110 over 70 (110/70), where 110 is the systolic reading and 70 the diastolic reading. You are considered to be having high blood pressure if your systolic reading is at 140 and above and the diastolic pressure reading is at 90 and above.