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This topic is about high blood pressure that some women get while they are pregnant. For information about preeclampsia, a more serious kind of high blood pressure, see the topic Preeclampsia.
Blood pressure is a measure of how hard your blood pushes against the walls of your arteries. If the force is too hard, you have high blood pressure (also called hypertension).
Blood pressure is shown as two numbers. The top number (systolic) is the pressure when the heart pumps blood. The bottom number (diastolic) is the pressure when the heart relaxes and fills with blood.
Blood pressure is high if the top number is more than 140 or if the bottom number is more than 90.
Normally, a woman's blood pressure drops during her second trimester. Then it returns to normal by the end of the pregnancy.
But some women have high blood pressure while they are pregnant. They may have:
Sometimes high blood pressure during pregnancy is a first sign of
preeclampsia. This condition can be
dangerous for both mother and baby.
Having high blood pressure
during pregnancy doesn't mean that you will get preeclampsia. But it does mean that you need to
have your blood pressure checked often. And you may need treatment.
If your blood pressure is very high, it could keep your baby from getting enough blood and oxygen. This could limit your baby's growth, or it could cause the placenta to pull away from the uterus too soon. (This is called placenta abruptio.) It also could lead to stillbirth.
High blood pressure usually doesn't cause symptoms. You will probably feel fine, even if your blood pressure is too high.
Tell your doctor right away if you have any signs of very high blood pressure or preeclampsia, such as:
High blood pressure is usually found during a prenatal visit. This is one reason it's so important to go to all of your prenatal checkups.
At each prenatal visit, your doctor, nurse, or midwife will:
If you have high blood
pressure while you're pregnant, you will have regular tests to check your baby's health. These may include:
If your doctor thinks you are at high risk for preeclampsia, you may have other tests, including:
You may need to take medicine if your doctor thinks your blood pressure is too high. Medicines used to treat high blood pressure during pregnancy include methyldopa and nifedipine.
Some common blood pressure medicines are not safe during pregnancy. If you take medicine for chronic high blood pressure:
To reduce your risk for preeclampsia, your doctor may recommend that you take low-dose aspirin during the second and third trimesters of your pregnancy.
To help control your blood pressure and have a healthy pregnancy:
Health Tools help you make wise health decisions or take action to improve your health.
Learning about high blood pressure during pregnancy:
Taking care of yourself:
Other Works Consulted
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (2012). Chronic hypertension in pregnancy. ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 125. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 119(2): 396–407.
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
(2002, reaffirmed 2010). Diagnosis and management of preeclampsia and eclampsia. ACOG Practice
Bulletin No. 33. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 99(1):
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerSarah Marshall, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerWilliam Gilbert, MD - Maternal and Fetal Medicine
Current as ofJune 4, 2014
Current as of:
June 4, 2014
Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
& William Gilbert, MD - Maternal and Fetal Medicine
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
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