Know the Risks of High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy

High blood pressure, Know the Risks of High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy, Dr. Nicolle

As a soon-to-be parent, whether having their first child or their fifth, the desire is always to experience the healthiest pregnancy possible. However, health concerns like high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, can pose significant risks.


Hypertension increases the risk of developing certain pregnancy complications, especially if these issues are left untreated.


Understanding the relationship between high blood pressure and fetal health will help keep both mother and child as safe as possible during pregnancy.


Complications of High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy

High blood pressure can have many complications during pregnancy for both mother and child.


If the mother has a previous existence of hypertension prior to pregnancy or develops it during the pregnancy, it’s important to pay close attention to blood pressure and symptoms. It’s best to keep all regular appointments with the obstetrician such that they can monitor the health of mother and child very closely.


High blood pressure, Know the Risks of High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy, Dr. Nicolle

Gestational Hypertension

Blood pressure may rise during pregnancy, especially after 20 weeks. This is known as gestational hypertension.


People with gestational hypertension typically don’t experience any of the organ damage that may result from long-term hypertension. The reason is that gestational hypertension is usually temporary.


Gestational hypertension may simply improve, but it does have the risk of developing into preeclampsia.



Preeclampsia is a serious complication that can develop in pregnant mothers who have gestational hypertension. An increased protein level in the urine is a typical indicator of preeclampsia.


In the condition of preeclampsia, high blood pressure has progressed to the point where it’s doing damage to vital organs like your kidneys, liver, and brain. This damage can be reversed, but only through careful management and the use of high blood pressure treatment methods.


If untreated, preeclampsia can progress to a more dangerous condition, eclampsia.



During eclampsia, damaged blood vessels prevent proper blood flow throughout the body. This can lead to conditions affecting the brain, such as seizure, coma, or even stroke.


Eclampsia is a very serious condition that endangers both the mother and baby. Medical treatment is life-saving.


That said, not every case of preeclampsia develops into eclampsia. Signs of eclampsia include abnormally high blood pressure spikes, abdominal pain, headaches, and visual changes. The chances of developing this condition are increased in pregnant patients younger than age 18 or older than age 35, in twin (or other multiple) pregnancies, or in people with diabetes.


Risks To The Baby

High blood pressure, Know the Risks of High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy, Dr. Nicolle

Hypertension doesn’t just pose a health risk for the mother. It can also interfere with the natural healthy development of the baby.


The risks to the baby’s health include low birth weight, placental abruption, and preterm delivery.


Low Birth Weight

More severe and long-lasting cases of high blood pressure can result in the baby being born a few pounds underweight, even if they are born right on time.


This is because a restricted blood flow can limit the amount of blood reaching the placenta, which, in turn, means the baby isn’t getting all the nutrients that would normally be available to them.


They may also have slowed growth because the lack of nutrients leads to slower fetal development. This is a bigger problem during the earliest stages of development when most cell replication is occurring.


Placental Abruption

During pregnancy, the placenta is attached to the uterine wall. Very high blood pressure can cause a placental abruption, which is when the placenta prematurely detaches from the uterine wall. Abruption may be partial with only minor bleeding, or it may involve the placenta separating from the uterus entirely.


This is a very rare circumstance, but if it does happen, it means that the baby is no longer getting the nutrients and oxygen they need. This is an emergent condition requiring immediate delivery of the baby.


Preterm Delivery

Premature birth may occur as a direct result of preeclampsia, or labor may need to be induced earlier than anticipated due to other complications during pregnancy related to high blood pressure.


Premature babies may need to spend additional time in the hospital, and they have a higher risk of developing some health complications. However, many premature babies also enjoy a long and healthy life with no noticeable health issues after a few months.


Pregnancy-Friendly High Blood Pressure Treatment

High blood pressure, Know the Risks of High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy, Dr. Nicolle


Some blood pressure medications are okay to take while pregnant, but others may not be. The mother should read the labels and be aware of all health warnings for any medications that are taken during pregnancy, and discuss these risks with the obstetrician.


Of course, natural treatment methods like adjusting your diet and exercise routine may be helpful in the case of gestational hypertension, but these methods should be discussed with the obstetrician.


In A Nutshell

If high blood pressure is a concern after becoming pregnant, don’t delay in seeking medical care. It’s best to get the safest care possible during pregnancy.

If you would like to receive a free resource sheet to support your quest for better heart health, click the button below to receive your gift.


High blood pressure, Know the Risks of High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy, Dr. Nicolle


I’m excited to talk about this topic today because not only do I truly believe that you have the power to reverse heart disease and lower high blood pressure to improve your health, but the science also agrees! You can adopt healthy lifestyle practices that improve your health and enrich your life, which can in turn improve the lives of those close to you. You have the power to break the cycle of these chronic diseases so that you can leave a legacy of health to your loved ones.


As you may already know, I use lifestyle medicine as the first line of treatment, before medications, to treat lifestyle-related chronic diseases. Lifestyle-related chronic diseases include diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and some cancers, just to name a few. Lifestyle practices, such as eating a whole-food plant-based diet and regular physical activity, can help you improve blood pressure and reverse heart disease. In certain cases, these approaches may even outperform pharmaceutical therapy.


Tools to Improve Heart Health

Blood Pressure Monitoring

It’s very important to monitor your blood pressure. I often recommend an automatic upper arm blood pressure cuff, but a wrist blood pressure monitor is also acceptable.

7 Series Upper Arm Blood Pressure Monitor
High blood pressure, Know the Risks of High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy, Dr. Nicolle

7 Series Upper Arm Blood Pressure MonitorHigh blood pressure, Know the Risks of High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy, Dr. Nicolle

Weight Monitoring

Since weight management is very important in blood pressure control, I recommend that you be mindful of your weight and its fluctuations, and that you monitor your weight AT LEAST on a weekly basis. I recommend a scale that includes a body composition monitor.

Body Composition Monitor And Scale With Seven Fitness Indicators
High blood pressure, Know the Risks of High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy, Dr. Nicolle

Body Composition Monitor And Scale With Seven Fitness IndicatorsHigh blood pressure, Know the Risks of High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy, Dr. NicolleRemember, healthy lifestyle behaviors–like eating a whole-foods plant-based diet that is low in sodium, being physically active, and stress management are the best ways to prevent and control high blood pressure. Please talk with your doctor about any complementary health approaches, including supplements, you use.


Let me know what you think in the comment section below.


Stay healthy,


Dr. Nicolle


PS. I am always asked what tools and resources I recommend to help you reach YOUR health goals. Here is the ever-growing, always updated list for you.

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Know the Risks of High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy

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