Normal blood pressure levels are key to good health. When your blood pressure becomes too high, it is known as hypertension. This condition can pose serious health risks at any time.
During pregnancy, hypertension can cause added problems. In some cases, preeclampsia, a serious disorder that can affect your pregnancy and your health, may develop. Preeclampsia occurs when your blood pressure reaches levels of 140/90 or higher after your 20th week of pregnancy, there is extremity swelling, and protein spillage in the urine.
Preeclampsia can have serious side effects for you and your baby; therefore, it is important to be aware of its warning signs. If you have any of these symptoms, talk with your doctor right away.
Doctors do not know why some women get preeclampsia. However, they do know that certain women are at higher risk. The risk of developing preeclampsia is increased in women who:
If you know you have high blood pressure, there are steps you can take before and during your pregnancy to reduce the chance that preeclampsia will harm you or your baby. Before your pregnancy, you can:
During your pregnancy, you can:
If your blood pressure increases slightly during your pregnancy, bed rest at home or in the hospital may help to keep preeclampsia from developing. If preeclampsia does develop, the only real treatment is to have the baby because continuing the pregnancy can result in damage to your organs, including your kidneys, liver, brain, heart, and eyes.
The decision to deliver the baby depends on the risks to you and whether the risk to your baby is greater staying inside your uterus or in a special nursery. Your doctor will talk with you about the decision to deliver your baby and the best and safest way for the delivery to occur.