High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, can cause a very serious condition during pregnancy known as Preeclampsia. Blood pressure is a measure of how hard the blood pushes against the wall of the arteries. If the force is too hard, then a person has high blood pressure. Women with high blood pressure, whether prior to becoming pregnant or if it develops during pregnancy, must be monitored closely and have checkups more often than women who do not have hypertension.
In normal and healthy pregnancies a woman’s blood pressure drops during the second trimester. It typically returns to normal by the end of pregnancy when a woman gives birth. But for some women, blood pressure goes up very high in the second or third trimester. If this is the case, a woman can develop preeclampsia which is a very dangerous condition to her and the baby. Very high blood pressure keeps the baby from getting enough blood and oxygen and can prevent the baby from growing properly or cause the placenta to detach from the uterus too soon.
Doctors do not know what causes hypertension during pregnancy, but they are trained to keep a very concerned eye on blood pressure numbers to keep both mother and baby safe. High blood pressure can cause headaches, but does not always have symptoms associated with it. Preeclampsia can cause rapid weight gain and sudden swelling of the hands and face. High blood pressure can be controlled by some medications, but the only cure for preeclampsia is to give birth. Your doctor will make the best call concerning the mother’s and baby’s health.
Posted on behalf of Sean Lambert M.D., North Pointe OB/GYN Associates