Skip to main content

High blood pressure during pregnancy

  • Somali: Cadaadiska dhiigga ee sareeya (dhiig karka) wakhtiga uurka

    High blood pressure means the pressure of the blood inside your arteries is at a level higher than normal. This can create health risks at any time, and it is even more of a risk during pregnancy. If not treated, it can cause serious problems for you and your baby.

    High blood pressure is also known as hypertension.

    Your blood pressure has two numbers:

    • The top number (systolic) shows the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats.
    • The bottom number (diastolic) shows the pressure in your arteries when your heart rests.

    During pregnancy, you have high blood pressure if your top number is more than 140 and the bottom number is more than 90.

    Types of high blood pressure

    There are two types of high blood pressure:

    • chronic (long-lasting) hypertension . If you have chronic hypertension, you had it before your pregnancy. If you took medicine to control high blood pressure before you became pregnant you should be able to take it during pregnancy. Your doctor will monitor your medicine.
    • gestational hypertension. Pregnancy can cause high blood pressure even if you've never had it before. It usually occurs after the 20th week and goes away soon after the baby is born.

    With either type of high blood pressure, preeclampsia can occur. Preeclampsia means that, in addition to high blood pressure, there is protein in your urine. Your health care provider will monitor you closely.

    Tell your health care provider if you have any of the following:

    • a sudden weight gain of more than 1 pound a day
    • swelling (edema) of your face and hands
    • small amounts of dark urine
    • severe or constant headache
    • blurred vision or spots in front of your eyes
    • pain in the upper right part of your abdomen, a dull achy indigestion feeling under your ribs or stomach area and/or flu-like symptoms
    • a jittery feeling

    If not treated, preeclampsia can be life threatening to you or your baby. Call your health care provider if you have any of the above signs.

    Risk factors for high blood pressure during pregnancy

    The cause of high blood pressure during pregnancy is unknown. However, you are at a higher risk than other women if you:

    • have a personal history of chronic hypertension (high blood pressure) or gestational hypertension
    • have a family history of high blood pressure
    • are pregnant for the first time
    • are older than age 40
    • are pregnant with more than one baby
    • have certain medical conditions such as diabetes or kidney disease
    • are African-American

    How you are tested for preeclampsia

    To test for preeclampsia at each prenatal visit, the staff will check your weight and blood pressure, and test for protein in your urine. Your care provider is concerned about rapid weight gain, presence of protein in your urine, and increased blood pressure.

    The test results help your health care provider know if you are developing preeclampsia. If you do develop preeclampsia, it can be treated.

    How to treat preeclampsia

    Treatment depends on if your symptoms are mild or severe.

    • In general, for mild preeclampsia, you would have more clinic visits and more tests to check the health of your baby. These tests would include fetal movement counts and ultrasound. You may also be put on bedrest.
    • In general, for severe preeclampsia, you may need to have home nursing services or stay in the hospital. The decision to deliver your baby will depend on the risks to you and the health of your baby. Labor may start on its own, be induced or your doctor may schedule a Cesarean. Your baby may need to stay in a special care nursery after delivery.

    If you have any questions or concerns, please talk with your health care provider.