Understanding Blood Pressure and Its Impact During Pregnancy

Blood pressure plays a crucial role in the functionality of our circulatory system, encompassing the heart, arteries, and veins. With each heart contraction, blood is propelled into arteries, which then transport it to various organs. As veins carry the blood back to the heart, the pressure naturally fluctuates throughout the day. While short-term variations are commonplace, consistent high blood pressure can indicate underlying issues.

For pregnant women, typical readings below 120/80 mmHg are deemed normal. If, however, systolic pressure reaches 140 mmHg or diastolic hits 90 mmHg over two measurements spaced at least four hours apart, the blood pressure is considered elevated. It's essential to calculate an average from multiple readings taken at rest to discern your blood pressure's normalcy.

The Importance of Blood Pressure During Pregnancy

In an ideal pregnancy, the fetus derives its essential nutrients and oxygen from the mother. This transfer is facilitated when the mother's blood adequately flows through the placenta, enabling nutrients and oxygen to reach the baby via the umbilical cord. But high blood pressure can thwart this process by restricting blood flow to the placenta, thus depriving the fetus of vital nutrients and potentially impeding its growth.

Gestational Hypertension vs. Preeclampsia

  • Gestational Hypertension: This blood pressure elevation emerges during the latter half of pregnancy. Fortunately, it often subsides post childbirth. Yet, if gestational hypertension combines with other symptoms, it escalates into preeclampsia.
  • Preeclampsia: Beyond high blood pressure, preeclampsia affects multiple body organs. Indications can include excessive protein in urine, headaches, vision issues, swift weight gain, and noticeable swelling. Elevated risks are observed in first-time mothers, those with a preeclampsia history, women aged 35 or above, pregnancies with multiple fetuses, and those with conditions like diabetes, obesity, lupus, or chronic hypertension. Severe manifestations of preeclampsia can damage a woman's organs, sometimes even leading to seizures, termed eclampsia. In extreme instances, the condition can be fatal for both mother and child.

Detecting and Treating Elevated Blood Pressure During Pregnancy

Regular prenatal check-ups involve monitoring weight, blood pressure, and urine protein levels. Should high blood pressure emerge, more frequent evaluations might be necessary.

Treatment Strategies:

  • For mild increases, bed rest might suffice.
  • In cases of preeclampsia, delivering the baby remains the definitive solution. The mode of delivery, either natural, induced, or cesarean, hinges on the health status of both mother and baby.
  • Some medications might be administered during labour to counter seizures or manage blood pressure levels.

Consistent high blood pressure during pregnancy necessitates special care. Collaborate closely with your healthcare provider to optimise your chances of birthing a healthy child.