Pregnancy poses several complications on the woman’s body if left unattended and if her gestation is poorly managed. The most common complication of pregnancy is hypertension. Hypertension in pregnancy can be fatal for both the mother and the baby if left untreated for so long or if detected later in the trimester.
Hypertension in pregnancy is called Gestational Hypertension. It is so-called gestational hypertension because such incidence is triggered or induced by pregnancy due to the increase in blood volume of the body to compensate for the needs of both the mother and the fetus. Signs and symptoms of gestational hypertension usually occurs at around 20 weeks into the pregnancy.
Gestational hypertension is divided into 6 classifications, namely:
Gestational Hypertension: Also known as Pregnancy Induced Hypertension (PIH), it is the phenomenon wherein there is an elevation in blood pressure with no signs of proteinuria. This is usually detected during mid pregnancy.
Transient Hypertension: A type of gestational hypertension with no signs of preeclampsia. Usually a retrospective diagnosis and happens immediately after delivery until the twelfth week after giving birth.
Preeclampsia: A kind of gestational hypertension wherein some symptoms are more prominent. Among its telltale sign is the presence of protein in the urine (proteinuria).
Eclampsia: This is a type of gestational hypertension accompanied by seizures and is definitely a medical emergency as well as a serious case that requires prompt attention.
Chronic Hypertension: A condition wherein the woman is already diagnosed with hypertension even before pregnancy and before she reaches her 20th week of gestation.
Preeclampsia superimposed on chronic hypertension: An occurrence that poses new symptoms on a person already diagnosed with hypertension. Symptoms such as the presence of protein in the urine (proteinuria) is usually attributed to this kind of illness.
Preeclampsia is the most common developing complication in a woman during her pregnancy.
How Does Gestational Hypertension Affect Me and My Baby?
In most cases, women are affected by gestational hypertension during mid pregnancy or about twenty weeks into it. However, some rare cases pose developing such condition at an early stage. Now, the difference in how gestational hypertension affects you and your baby depends on how far along you are in your pregnancy.
Symptoms differ according to gestational age the condition developed, but some of the complications are damages to the heart and kidneys. Separation of placenta prior to giving birth is also possible (this is called Abruptio Placenta). Another possible complication that can happen to the woman and the baby is preterm birth as the baby does not acquire the necessary nutrients, your healthcare provider may suggest to terminate the pregnancy and just sustain the child with nutrients outside the body.
For the baby, the effect could be that the child is born smaller than normal due to the fact that he or she does not get the necessary nutrients required for growth. Lack of nutrients can lead to stunted growth due to poor nutrition.
When detected early, women tend to have only mild symptoms of hypertension which they should always watch out for in order to prevent further development of the condition to preeclampsia.
When you have already been diagnosed to have gestational hypertension, it is best to carefully watch what you eat since it greatly affects your weight leading to aggravation of developing potential health risks when you reach the 37th week of your pregnancy.
What Is It with Preeclampsia? Can You Discuss More About It?
It is a pregnancy-specific syndrome that starts to develop at about 20 weeks into gestation. Preeclampsia affects not only the blood pressure, rather, it can induce further damage to the other systems in the body. It is also considered to be vasospastic which reduces blood flow to the various organs in the body. The hallmark sign of preeclampsia is hypertension and presence of protein in the urine.
What Can I Do to Prevent Having Preeclampsia or Gestational Hypertension?
What you can do to keep your pregnancy as healthy as possible is to always comply to check-ups and take your pre-natal vitamins. Watch also what you eat and do not allow yourself to gain so much weight as it greatly contributes to developing gestational hypertension. Stick to healthier options, such as staying away from excessively salty foods and meals high in fat content. You can also do some pregnancy-friendly exercises and remember to always see your physician when you already feel something unusual.
When Should I Be Prompted and Call My Obstetrician?
If you have already been diagnosed with gestational hypertension, monitoring your blood pressure daily can help you keep track and be aware when it is elevated, to prompt you to call your primary healthcare provider.
Should you feel any decreasing in the kick count of your baby, this could be a sign of deteriorating health and this requires prompt medical attention.
Other signs and symptoms that you should watch out for are:
- Severe headache
- Severe swelling that drastically increases over a few days
- Blurring in vision
- Severe pain or tenderness present in the upper abdomen
- Nausea and vomiting that should not be mistaken as morning sickness since the latter only happens early in pregnancy
Should you feel abnormal signs and symptoms such as the ones mentioned above, do not delay seeking medical help and call your physician immediately for proper interventions.
Author: Patricia Magno RN