What Happens to Blood Pressure During Pregnancy
It’s no surprise that pregnancy causes changes throughout the body. While most of these changes are healthy and necessary, there may also be some changes that need attention. It is critical that you attend your regularly scheduled prenatal visits to ensure unhealthy body changes don’t go unnoticed and cause harm to your unborn baby. One of the concerns that your doctor will monitor closely throughout your prenatal care is your blood pressure.
As your heart is working overtime to support the growth of a fetus, it is understandable that your blood pressure may change a bit during pregnancy. During the first two trimesters, it is not uncommon for your blood pressure to drop. This is due to released hormones in early pregnancy that relax blood vessels. Blood pressure can also be lower than normal during these initial weeks due to dehydration, or when an expectant mom has not yet increased her water intake to suitable levels.
By the time the third trimester begins, however, your blood pressure may swing to be higher than normal instead of lower. At this point, your body is producing an extra pint of blood to support the pregnancy so it can naturally increase. Healthy blood pressure is measured at 120/80 mm Hg or below. When it’s elevated beyond these measurements, it is considered hypertension (or high blood pressure). High blood pressure is not ideal for any patient, but especially those that are pregnant.
While not all forms of hypertension during pregnancy are cause for serious concern, it is important to let your OB manage your condition. Gestational hypertension is temporary and may not be noticeable. However, it does put you at risk for preeclampsia, a serious complication of high blood pressure during pregnancy.
Symptoms of Preeclampsia
Preeclampsia typically develops after 20 weeks of pregnancy and is marked by the following symptoms or warning signs:
- Pain in your upper abdomen
- Poor liver function
- Protein in your urine
- Shortness of breath
- Sudden weight gain
- Swelling in your hands or feet
- Vision changes
Why is Preeclampsia Serious?
Preeclampsia can be life-threatening for both mother and baby! This type of high blood pressure can cause damage to the mother’s organs as well as low birth weight, premature birth and a higher risk of infection for the baby.
What is your risk factor for high blood pressure during pregnancy? We can help you at North Pointe OB/GYN. Our Cumming obstetricians can provide complete prenatal care that also includes managing your gestational hypertension or preeclampsia. Our highest priority is keeping mothers and babies safe.