High blood pressure and pregnancy aren’t always detrimental when paired together. Sometimes they coexist without problems, but sometimes they don’t. Here’s all you need to know about pregnancy and high blood pressure to make healthy decisions for you and your baby.

Types of high blood pressure during pregnancy

Chronic hypertension

Chronic hypertension is present before pregnancy and occurs throughout the 40 weeks. Chronic high blood pressure almost always has no symptoms, so that’s why it’s called the silent killer.  If you’re not sure if you have high blood pressure, go get a reading so that you can take necessary precautions, especially if you’re pregnant or looking to get pregnant.

Gestational hypertension

Gestational hypertension occurs in women who did not have chronic hypertension prior to becoming pregnant but develop it after 20 weeks of pregnancy. This type of hypertension does not result in excess protein in the urine or other damage to the organs. Some women who develop gestational hypertension develop preeclampsia.

Chronic hypertension with superimposed preeclampsia

Women who have chronic hypertension before pregnancy can develop worsened high blood pressure and protein in the urine or other complications during pregnancy.

Preeclampsia

Preeclampsia is a more serious condition that develops in women with gestational hypertension and includes damage to other organ systems including the kidneys, liver, blood, or brain. If preeclampsia goes untreated it can lead to serious complications for the baby and the mother. Preeclampsia was previously characterized by high blood pressure and protein in the urine, but it is now recognized that it’s possible to have preeclampsia without having excess protein in the urine.

Pregnant woman having fetal monitoring by doctor

Dangers of high blood pressure during pregnancy

High blood pressure poses various risks to mother and baby during pregnancy, including:

Problems with the placenta

Decreased blood flow to the placenta

Decreased blood flow can lead to depleted oxygen levels for your baby! This can slow growth and even result in premature birth. Premature babies suffer many problems, including increased risk of infection and underdeveloped lungs.

Placental abruption

Preeclampsia increases the risk that the placenta with separate from the inner wall of the uterus, resulting in heavy bleeding and can be life-threatening for the mother and the baby

Intrauterine growth restriction

High blood pressure may result in slowed or decreased growth of your baby. This delayed growth puts the baby at risk including low birth weight.

Cardiovascular disease

If you’ve had preeclampsia with a previous pregnancy, your risk of future heart disease is increased greatly.

How to treat blood pressure while pregnant

Some blood pressure medications are safe to use while pregnant, but some angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors should be avoided during pregnancy. If you’re overweight, start with losing excess weight to alleviate some stress on your heart.

Treatment is very important, so meet with your doctor to find a treatment that will be safe for you and your baby!