High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy

High blood pressure (hypertension) is one of the most common medical complications in pregnancy.

If you have hypertension or gestational hypertension your high blood pressure can be managed by regular monitoring of you (by taking your blood pressure)and your developing baby (through ultrasound). Expectant women with hypertension are sometimes prescribed medication to keep their blood pressure under control.

Hypertension is defined as a blood pressure reading that exceeds 140/90 noted on 2 separate occasions at least 4 hours apart.

If you have gestational hypertension, you may be at risk (and will be monitored) for serious complications, including:

  • Fetal growth restriction
  • Preterm delivery
  • Placental abruption when the placenta separates early from the uterus
  • Preeclampsia when high blood pressure leads to the damage of another organ (typically the liver and kidneys)

What a Blood Pressure Reading Means

When your heart beats, it pushes blood through your arteries (to deliver it to the rest of your body), creating pressure within the blood vessels. In a blood pressure reading:

  • The top number (systolic) measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart contracts.
  • The bottom number (diastolic) measures that pressure when your heart is in between beats or at rest.

A blood pressure reading of 119/79 or lower is considered in the range of normal.

See also ...

FAQs about preeclampsia and high blood pressure, from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

This message is not intended to provide individual medical advice. Always seek the advice of a physician or qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have about your health or medical condition, your breastfeeding issues and your infant's health. Never disregard, avoid or delay contacting a doctor or other qualified professional because of something you have read in our emails, webpages or other electronic communications.

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