Gestational hypertension is elevated blood pressure as a result of pregnancy. This condition is determined to be present when a pregnant woman has a blood pressure higher than 140/90 without the presence of protein in her urine and which occurs after 20 weeks of pregnancy. This condition is often the result of the body not secreting enough insulin during pregnancy.
What are the Risks Factors of Gestational Hypertension?
A family history of gestational hypertension, an expectant mother over 35 years of age, or previous diagnosis of this condition increases the risk. If the mother is overweight, or has a previous pregnancy resulting in an infant with high birth weight, there is also an increased risk of gestational hypertension. Other risk factors include twin pregnancies and smoking during pregnancy.
How will Gestational Hypertension affect my Baby?
If hypertension is severe and appears early in the pregnancy, the risk for problems increases. Hypertension can prevent the placenta from getting sufficient blood. When this happens, the baby receives less oxygen and nutrients. Gestational hypertension may increase the risk of preterm birth or placental abruption. The mother may also be at risk of having seizures. Sometimes, the condition may progress to a point where premature delivery of the baby is necessary to save the life of the mother. Severe hypertension may lead to a condition called preeclampsia, a disorder in which the mother has high blood pressure and protein in her urine after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
How is Gestational Hypertension Treated?
An ultrasound can be ordered to reveal the growth of the baby and the amniotic fluid level. Blood tests may be ordered, as well as a 24-hour urine test to check for protein. These tests can reveal preeclampsia and alert health care professionals to closely monitor the progression of the pregnancy.
Gestational hypertension can be managed with dietary changes and exercise. Dietary intervention can be beneficial, as well as moderate intensity exercise, such as walking 30 minutes per day to lower insulin resistance.