Pregnancy is the most amazing time in a woman’s life. Knowing that an amazing new life is growing inside your womb can be one of the most liberating and empowering feels you will ever experience. These nine months are well documented with journals, photos, and a careful eye on the scale. The numbers on the scale, however, are not the only numbers that must be carefully monitored during your pregnancy. Your Blood Pressure, or B.P., must be maintained at a healthy level to have a healthy nine-month experience. If your B.P. starts to rise you risk having hypertension during your pregnancy. The highly trained professionals at Houston Obstetrics have extensive knowledge and experience in monitoring and treating each type of pregnancy-induced hypertension.
According to www.pregnancy-info.net, Pregnancy-Induced Hypertension (PIH) is defined as; “a condition that causes elevated blood pressure in a mother-to-be.” What causes this issue in some pregnant women? What is the big deal if your blood pressure rises during your pregnancy? What can happen if it continues to rise? What can be done to prevent it from rising or stop it from continuing to rise? All of these questions are important to ask and know the answers to in order to have a safe, full-term pregnancy and birth.
What is Hypertensive Pregnancy?
Hypertensive pregnancy is diagnosed when a mother-to-be has an elevated blood pressure of 140/90 mmHg and is maintained over several readings during the second half of your pregnancy. Professionals are not sure what exactly causes PIH, but there are certain risk-factors every pregnant woman should be aware of and keep a careful eye on;
- A history of diabetes
- A history of hypertension
- Being of African descent
- Having multiple births such as twins or triplets
There are many warning signs of PIH which, if you experience any you should contact your Houston Ob/Gyn immediately for a consultation. If you begin to experience rapid weight gain, swelling, especially of your hands, face and feet, blurred vision or severe headaches don’t ignore these signs; call your health care provider and report your symptoms. There are typically three types of PIH; Gestational Hypertension, Preeclampsia, and Eclampsia.
Types of Hypertensive Pregnancies
Gestational Hypertension, previously referred to as Toxemia, is strictly when the mother-to-be experiences an increase in blood pressure, without any other symptoms. This kind of hypertension is often treated with complete bed-rest either at home or in hospital, medication, along with very closely monitored B.P. If treatment is not effective, Gestational Hypertension can lead to Preeclampsia.
Preeclampsia is diagnosed when the increase in blood pressure is accompanied with edema, or swelling of the hands, face, and feet, with or without any proteins present in the urine. Symptoms of Preeclampsia include:
- Shortness of breath
- Liver damage
- Weight gain due to swelling
- Proteins leaking into the kidneys leading to a low birth weight of the baby
Treatment usually involves hospitalization, complete bed-rest, and possibly medication is administered to help decrease the mother’s blood pressure. Depending on how severe the mother’s symptoms are, your Houston Ob/Gyn will suggest delivering your baby as the best or only treatment. Sometimes, even delivering weeks early is the safer choice for both mother and baby. Although most symptoms end once the baby is born, long-term damage to organs is possible. In most severe cases Preeclampsia can lead to Eclampsia.
Eclampsia is one of the most serious forms of pregnancy-induced hypertension. It can cause convulsions and/or coma in the late stages of pregnancies. Other symptoms include:
- Kidney and liver failure
- Placenta abruption which can lead to a stillbirth
- HELLP Syndrome, which can destroy the body’s red blood cells, liver, and stops the blood from clotting
As you can see, each kind of hypertension increases in level of physical danger to both mother and baby. The best medicine to help assure you experience a safe, positive pregnancy is to adopt a healthy lifestyle even before you plan to get pregnant, invest in prenatal vitamins, and be sure to see your Houston Obstetrician for regular pre-natal care.