Can High Blood Pressure Affect Your Baby

High blood pressure, or hypertension, has a lot of different names in pregnancy, depending on whether it is accompanied by protein in the urine of the pregnant woman and other factors. Your doctor may call it pre-eclampsia, pregnancy-induced hypertension or chronic hypertension with superimposed pre-eclampsia.

Up to 1 in 20 women having their first baby will develop high blood pressure in pregnancy that will go away as soon as the baby is born. This is when the term “pregnancy-induced hypertension” is most commonly used.

One of the reasons you visit the doctor more often in the eighth and ninth months of pregnancy is to monitor you for high blood pressure, which grows more common toward the end of the pregnancy. Why are doctors so concerned about it?

High blood pressure has many bad effects. Babies whose mothers have high blood pressure tend to grow more slowly. There may also be a low level of amniotic fluid (oligohydramnios). When there is protein in the urine, indicating pre-eclampsia, the mother’s liver may not function properly, her blood may not clot as well due to a low platelet count, there may be inadequate urine production, and she may even experience heart failure. When pre-eclampsia is accompanied by seizures it becomes eclampsia, which is life threatening.

If you are taking medication for chronic high blood pressure when you get pregnant, you need to talk to your doctor about the particular medication. If you are taking ACE inhibitors, you need to be switched as quickly as possible to another medicine. These medications are harmful to the fetus. If you had high blood pressure before becoming pregnant, you have an increased risk of pre-eclampsia while pregnant.

If you have high blood pressure, your doctor may recommend nonstress tests and a test called a biophysical profile to learn whether the placenta is doing its job and the baby is continuing to grow normally.

Depending on the severity of the high blood pressure and the gestational age of the baby, early delivery may be recommended. No one knows what causes pre-eclampsia, but delivery is the only sure cure.

However, most high blood pressure is mild and does not require treatment with medication. We monitor it carefully and treat it with increased periods of rest, or occasionally, total bed rest.

Another nonmedical treatment that has been suggested recently is for the pregnant woman to stand chest deep in water. Somehow, this helps lower blood pressure, probably by pushing fluids back into the blood vessels. Lying in a bathtub isn’t enough; you must be standing upright. Avoid hot tubs because the heat can be bad for the baby. And don’t start any treatment like that without talking to your doctor first and continuing frequent blood pressure checks.

Tags: , ,

{ Comments are closed! }