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Everything to know about Gestational Hypertension!

A complete guide for the pregnant moms
October 22, 2021

7 Minutes

Did you know?

‘Upto 10% pregnant women globally are diagnosed with Gestational hypertension according to a statistics in 2021.’

Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430839/

So if you are one among them, do not worry. You are not alone!

The world has glorified pregnancy, making it the biggest high point in a woman’s life. While it is not entirely wrong, it is also a façade which hides the sour parts. From the physical symptoms to psychological struggles, preggers have a lot to deal with. Pregnancy complications are nightmares for every mom-to-be and Gestational hypertension is one such complication.

It is spotted first at 20 weeks or later in pregnancy and normally resolves 12 weeks after the baby is born. It is also called ‘Pregnancy induced hypertension.’

An infographic showing a woman whose blood pressure is displayed to be high

Understanding hypertension in pregnancy

There are 4 main categories of high blood pressure (hypertension) that are associated with pregnancy.

Hypertension classification during pregnancy infographic flow chart

Who is at risk of this Gestational hypertension?

Mothers younger than 20 years and older than 40 years of age

  • Mostly in the first pregnancy.
  • Twin fetus .
  • History of hypertension in previous pregnancy.
  • Pre-existing hypertension (Chronic hypertension).
  • African-American race .
  • History of renal disorders and diabetes.

How to know if you have Gestational hypertension?

Approach your health care provider if you have the following symptoms.

  • Increased blood pressure
  • Constant head ache
  • Edema (swelling of feet)
  • Sudden weight gain
  • Blurred/ double vision
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Pain on the right side of the stomach
  • Frequent small amounts of urine

Sounds very similar to normal pregnancy right? Sometimes, it is asymptomatic too.

‘We all have these days when we feel like we are against the world, every little thing goes wrong and our blood pressure is up; and we feel like punching someone!’ Well, if you are pregnant and feel the same, it’s a sign you must visit your gynecologist. Having the issue diagnosed and treated early will reduce your risk for complications.

Are there any diet recommendations to reduce complications?

Potassium rich foods like bananas, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, potatoes, dried fruits, peas, etc. are advised. Avoiding sodium (salt) rich food, canned and processed food is a must.

A well-balanced nutritious diet along with a good lifestyle including physical activity helps at any point in life.

Nutritious food

How is it confirmed if one has this condition?

Well, the physician runs a few diagnostic tests to confirm the diagnosis and assess the severity. The tests include,

  • Blood pressure > 140/90mmHg on two occasions at least 6 hours apart
  • Proteinuria (excess protein in urine)
  • Liver and kidney function tests
  • Blood clotting tests
  • Assessment of edema.

Can it be prevented?​

Not really; which make pre-natal check-ups all the more important. It could help prevent your condition from getting worse.

How to tell if the severity of Gestational hypertension has progressed?

While the condition itself is not serious, it could lead to Pre-eclampsia which is a potentially dangerous pregnancy complication where 300mg of proteins is detected in a 24 hours sample of urine. It develops in 15-25% women with initial Gestational hypertension, especially in women with early onset.

It is a big concern as Pre-eclampsia leads to worse, even fatal complications for the mother and the baby. It may require induced labor and delivery / C-section, depending upon the position of the fetus.

Pre- eclampsia infographic showing gestational hypertension

Why Pre-eclampsia is a concern?

Women diagnosed with pre-eclampsia are bound to face complications like,

  • Fetal growth restriction
  • Pre-term birth
  • Placental abruption ( separation of placenta from uterus)
  • HELLP Syndrome
    • Hemolysis (destruction of red blood cells)
    • Elevated liver enzymes
    • Low platelet count
  • Organ damages
  • Eclampsia- mother will set into seizures
Pre-eclampsia and under developed fetal blood vessels

How to treat the condition?

Possible treatment for pre-eclampsia include, routine monitoring of the baby like regular ultrasounds and non-stress test (which is a procedure that checks how baby’s heart rate reacts when it moves); and tests for the mother including blood pressure, urine and blood examination.

Medications

  1. Medicines to lower blood pressure: they are called anti-hypertensives. Not all medicines are safe during pregnancy but your doctor will definitely know them.
  2. Corticosteroids: if you have HELLP syndrome. It will help prepare a premature baby for life out outside the womb.
  3. Anticonvulsant medications: for patients who develop seizures in eclampsia.

Discovering you have a potentially serious complication can be frightening. If diagnosed in the early stage of pregnancy, you will spend the rest of it worrying about your baby. If detected in the late stage, you will be scared to know your pregnancy will be induced right away. But, on the bright side being educated and aware of your condition may help cope with the mental stress.

You can talk to your doctor about specific symptoms to watch for and what to do if they develop – Plan ahead!

“Birth takes a woman’s deepest fear out of her and shows her that she is stronger than them.” I know it’s hard mama. But, your routine check-ups will help make the best choices for you and your baby!

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