High blood pressure (hypertension) is when the pressure of blood in your arteries is too high. Arteries are the blood vessels that carry blood from the heart to the body. Blood pressure that's too high stresses your heart and damages your blood vessels and other organs. Untreated high blood pressure can cause heart problems, kidney problems, or stroke.
A woman's blood pressure is normally lower during pregnancy. Blood pressure that's only a little high can be a sign of problems for you and your baby.
There are 3 types of high blood pressure during pregnancy:
Chronic high blood pressure: you already had high blood pressure before you got pregnant
Gestational high blood pressure: high blood pressure that starts after week 20 of your pregnancy and usually goes away a few weeks after your baby is born
Preeclampsia: high blood pressure late in pregnancy along with an abnormal amount of protein in your urine
You have a higher chance of getting high blood pressure during pregnancy if you:
High blood pressure during pregnancy can cause serious problems for you and your baby.
Problems for you include:
Problems for your baby include:
Preeclampsia can lead to eclampsia. In eclampsia you have seizures (when your body moves and jerks out of your control) and sometimes blood and liver problems. These problems can be life-threatening to you and your baby.
If you have high to very high blood pressure, doctors will have you rest in bed and may deliver your baby a little early (at 37 to 39 weeks).
If you have very high blood pressure (180/110 or higher), your doctor may put you in the hospital for treatment during the last months of your pregnancy.
Although high blood pressure that develops during pregnancy may go away once your baby is born, you may get chronic high blood pressure later in life.