We speak to Mr. William Dennes from Queen Charlotte’s & Chelsea Hospital about high blood pressure in pregnancy
This condition, also known as hypertension, affects 5-10% of pregnant women. Some women will have the condition already (known as Chronic or Essential Hypertension) and other will develop it during pregnancy, which is known as Pregnancy induced hypertension (PIH).
Pre-eclampsia is a more serious condition, which can affect both the mother and baby, and is associated with high blood pressure, protein in the urine (proteinuria) and swelling (oedema). It may be associated with a small baby (intrauterine growth restriction).
You are more at risk if it’s your first pregnancy, you have had high blood pressure before becoming pregnant or if you had pre-eclampsia in a previous pregnancy.
Close monitoring for blood pressure and protein in the urine are essential and as the condition can affect the placenta, you’ll need to be have additional ultrasound scans.
You may be advised to deliver earlier with early induction of labour (or Caesarean section).
If you have suffered with high blood pressure for some time, you will have medication to help you control it and, with the advice of your pregnancy health professionals, you should continue to take this, though your doctor may change what you take or how you are taking it.
You will be more closely monitored than women with uncomplicated pregnancies and you should also make sure you take regular exercise, eat a good and well balanced diet and watch your salt intake.
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