Preeclampsia and High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy (cont.)
IN THIS ARTICLE
If your blood pressure begins to rise during pregnancy, you will need close monitoring until after your baby is born. Your blood pressure may remain mildly elevated, which is not considered dangerous for you or your fetus. But it can become dangerous if it turns out to be a sign of preeclampsia or if it progresses to more severe high blood pressure (hypertension).
High blood pressure (hypertension) during pregnancy
If you have high blood pressure during your pregnancy, your treatment may include:
Mild high blood pressure in pregnancy usually only requires close monitoring. If you have high blood pressure that is rapidly increasing or has reached moderately high levels, you may be treated with blood pressure medicine.
Severe high blood pressure (higher than 160 mm Hg systolic or 110 mm Hg diastolic) can result in poor fetal growth (intrauterine growth restriction) and is likely to be treated with an antihypertensive medicine.
Some high blood pressure medicines are dangerous during pregnancy.6 If you take high blood pressure medicines, talk to your doctor about the safety of your medicine before you become pregnant or as soon as you learn you are pregnant. Make sure that your doctor has a complete list of all medicines that you are taking.
Preeclampsia and eclampsia
If you show any signs of preeclampsia, you will be closely monitored, either with frequent office visits or in the hospital. The goal of treatment is to prevent preeclampsia from becoming life-threatening to you and your fetus while prolonging the pregnancy long enough for your fetus to be mature and healthy at birth.
Your treatment will last for the rest of your pregnancy, your delivery, and your first postpartum weeks and will depend on how severe your condition is. Treatment options include an anticonvulsant medicine; blood pressure medicine if your blood pressure is dangerously high; and delivery, which is the only known "cure" for preeclampsia.
If you have moderate to severe preeclampsia, your risk of seizures (eclampsia) continues for the first 24 to 48 hours after childbirth (in very rare cases, seizures are reported later in the postpartum period). So you may continue magnesium sulfate for 24 hours after delivery.4
Unless you have chronic high blood pressure, your blood pressure is likely to return to normal a few days after delivery. In rare cases, it can take 6 weeks or more. Some women still have high blood pressure 6 weeks after childbirth yet return to normal levels over the long term. If your blood pressure is still high after delivery, you may be given a blood pressure medicine. You will then have regular checkups with your doctor to monitor your recovery.
What To Think About
To prepare for a talk with your doctor or nurse-midwife about your condition, see questions to ask your doctor about high blood pressure and pregnancy.
High blood pressure medicine
Lowering blood pressure with medicine:
A vaginal delivery is usually safest for the mother and is attempted first if she and the baby are both stable. If preeclampsia is rapidly getting worse or fetal monitoring suggests that the baby cannot safely handle labor contractions, a cesarean section (C-section) delivery is needed.
Preeclampsia usually does not cause long-term problems. Healthy habits, such as regular exercise and eating a healthy diet, may help prevent future health problems. If you have had preeclampsia, talk to your doctor about what you can do to stay healthy.
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