There are certain conditions in pregnancy that can be a source of threat to the mother and baby , most of these treats are preventable and can be avoided. Some of this conditions include diabetes, high blood pressure, preeclampsia, eclampsia etc. this is however one of the most important reasons to book for antenatal as early as possible to help in early detection of this condition.
High blood pressure also known as hypertension is the most common medical disorder in pregnancy is directly responsible for many maternal deaths in Nigeria today. Most women are not quite aware of this disorder , some women may never experience hypertension in pregnancy throughout their chid bearing years some experience it from their first pregnancy and some not till their second or third pregnancy. High blood pressure in pregnancy has various classifications :
- Chronic hypertension
- Gestational hypertension
- Preeclampsia and eclampsia
- HELLP syndrome
Chronic hypertension: this exist when the blood pressure is 140/90 or higher before pregnancy or before 20th week of gestation or persist 42 days following childbirth. Women with chronic hypertension are monitored from the first day of pregnancy and fetal growth monitored closely.
Gestational hypertension: this exists when there is an elevation of blood pressure occurs for the first time after mid pregnancy, it resolves following child-birth, if it however doesn’t resolve after 12 weeks postpartum the woman is diagnosed with chronic hypertension.
Preeclampsia and eclampsia: preeclampsia is an increase in blood pressure after 20 weeks gestation accompanied by protein in urine in a previously normotensive woman, if not controlled it progresses to eclampsia . eclampsia is characterized by seizure( known as Giri in Yoruba) in a woman with preeclampsia who has no other cause for seizure.
HELLP syndrome( Hemolysis, Elevated Liver enzymes, and Low platelet count): it is associated with severe preeclampsia.
Some of the effects of hypertension in pregnancy include:
- Placental insufficiency( this is when the baby is not receiving enough oxygen from the placenta).
- Small for gestational age.
- Placental abruption.
- Increased chance for caesarean birth.
What can I do to prevent it?
- Early antenatal booking for early detection and screening for risk of hypertension
- Maintain a healthy weight during pregnancy.
- Monitor your blood pressure (get a blood pressure monitor at home) should in case you notice a slight elevation you call the attention of your midwife or obstetrician.
I have high blood pressure already what can I do?
- Ensure you have a midwife or obstetrician monitoring you closely.
- Regular check of blood pressure.
- Always go for your antenatal bookings or time given by the midwife or obstetrician for check up.
- Reduce salt intake and maintain a healthy weight during pregnancy.
- Frequent bed rest at a minimum of twice a day (an hour for each period of rest).
- Monitor for fetal movements from about 24 weeks and call your midwife or obstetrician if there is a decrease in fetal movement.
- If you have to use any medication for hypertension talk to your doctor before use.