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Gestational Hypertension, Managing hypertension in Pregnancy

Home remedies to combat Gestational Hypertension and have a healthy pregnancy

Gestational hypertension is a pregnancy condition characterised by high blood pressure in pregnancy. This condition should not be confused with other blood pressure conditions such as chronic hypertension or preeclampsia. Gestational hypertension generally develops in the second trimester and goes away after you give birth. Don’t be alarmed if your doctor observes high blood pressure during your pregnancy, many women with high blood pressure deliver healthy babies. Your doctor would closely monitor your condition as well as your baby’s health and growth.  

To effectively manage gestational hypertension, let us first understand this condition better. 

Medical experts are still to identify the exact causes of gestational hypertension. A few factors that can increase the risk of developing high bp in pregnancy include: 

  • Having a history of hypertension or gestational hypertension 
  • Having any kidney disease 
  • Being overweight/obese 
  • Having diabetes 
  • Being younger than 20 years or older than 40 years of age 
  • Having multiple pregnancies (twins, triplets etc) 

During your prenatal visits, your doctor would evaluate the risks to your pregnancy based on your medical and family history. Apart from high blood pressure, you might also experience the following symptoms of high bp in pregnancy: 

  • Persistent headache 
  • Oedema (swelling) 
  • Sudden weight gain  
  • Blurred or double vision 
  • Nausea or vomiting  
  • Pain in the upper side of your stomach 
  • Making small amounts of urine 

It is important to carefully monitor and manage signs of high blood pressure during pregnancy as it can result in severe blood pressure conditions such as preeclampsia. If you notice any new symptoms bring it to the notice of your obstetrician right away.  

If you are detected with high blood pressure, your doctor might run additional tests to rule out any other conditions. These include: 

  • Urine testing to check for protein (to check kidney function) 
  • Checking for swelling 
  • Monitoring your weight 
  • Liver function test 
  • Blood clotting test 

The main goal of treatment for gestational hypertension is to prevent the condition from worsening. Your treatment would include the following: 

  1. Foetal monitoring
    During your prenatal visits, your doctor would closely monitor your baby’s growth and health. Foetal movement counting (keeping track of the baby’s kicks and movements), nonstress testing (response of the baby’s heart rate to his/her movements), biophysical profile (a combination of nonstress test and ultrasound) and doppler flow studies (to measure the flow of your baby’s blood through a blood vessel) are some of the tests performed to monitor your little one’s health. 
  2. Lab testing
    Your obstetrician might order routine blood and urine tests during your prenatal visits. This is done mainly to test the presence of protein and monitor your condition. 
  3. Medications
    Your doctor would prescribe corticosteroids in case you have the risk of having a preterm delivery. These medicines boost the growth of your baby’s lungs.  

Gestational hypertension on its own doesn’t necessarily be a cause of worry. However, if not managed correctly it can lead to complications such as preterm labour and preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a serious blood pressure condition that affects various organ systems in the body including the nervous system. The only course of treatment in this event is performing an emergency delivery.  

Watch the video as Dr Deepika Aggarwal, consultant obstetrics and gynaecology at the CK Birla Hospital discusses “Hypertension and Preeclampsia – Silent dangers to pregnancy” in full detail.

Tips for a healthy pregnancy

If you do have high blood pressure during your pregnancy, the following tips can help you have a healthier pregnancy 

  • Eat healthy: Follow a balanced diet rich in folic foods. These will help in foetal development. Remember during your pregnancy, your baby eats what you eat. You can develop a diet plan unique to your needs with the help of your OBGYN and nutritionist.   
  • Relax: Pregnancy is a beautiful time but it can also be a stressful one. Reducing stress is one of the most effective ways to manage high blood pressure. Try calming techniques like meditation and breathing exercises to relax. Also remember to get plenty of rest and sleep while you can. 
  • Exercise:  Regular exercise can go a long way in managing high blood pressure in pregnancy. Mild to moderate physical exercise 4-5 times a week also helps in regulating mood and maintaining good foetal health. You can develop exercise plans with the help of your obgyn to understand what is safe for you.  

Remember, it is always better to err on the side of caution and check with your doctor in case you aren’t sure whether something is out of the ordinary or not.  

Also, read: Tips to ensure a healthy pregnancy

FAQs 

Ques: Is gestational hypertension and chronic hypertension the same?
Ans: Gestational hypertension is a blood pressure condition characterised by high bp after the 20th week of pregnancy. Chronic hypertension is high bp that existed before the pregnancy. If you have high blood pressure and are planning to or have become pregnant, consult your doctor for ways to manage the condition. In case you are overweight, your doctor might ask you to lose some pounds with diet and exercise to help manage your blood pressure. Also, consult your OBGYN for any medications that you might be taking for any pre-existing conditions. 

Ques: What is preeclampsia?
Ans: Preeclampsia is a type of hypertensive disorder in pregnancy characterised by high blood pressure and a significant amount of protein in the urine. It can cause multiple organ systems to fail and can also be fatal to the mother and child. Preeclampsia also hinders foetal growth by restricting blood flow to the placenta. The exact causes of this condition are not known however, it is more commonly seen in first time pregnancies, pregnant teens and pregnant women over the age of 40. Signs and symptoms of preeclampsia include: 

  1. Rapid weight gain or swelling caused by fluid retention (oedema) 
  2. Abdominal pain 
  3. Severe headache  
  4. Nausea 
  5. Blurry or double vision 

If you notice any of the above symptoms seek immediate medical attention. 

Ques: Can gestational hypertension be prevented?
Ans: There are no ways to completely eliminate the risk of developing gestational hypertension. Early diagnosis and treatment are the most effective ways to manage this condition. So, make sure to go on regular prenatal visits to monitor the progress of your pregnancy.  

Read: How to control sugar level during pregnancy?

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Author: Dr Deepika Agarwal
Backed by over two decades of clinical experience, Dr. Deepika Aggarwal is one of the most trusted obstetricians and gynaecologists in Gurgaon. She is recognized internationally for her contributions to the field of obstetrics and gynaecology and is a member of the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, London. She specializes in high-risk pregnancies, managing recurrent pregnancy losses, endoscopic surgeries, cervical screening for cancers, and normal deliveries post-cesarean section.
 
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