Pregnancy and hypertension require careful monitoring
If you are trying to get pregnant and you already have chronic high blood pressure (not to be confused with two other types of high blood pressure associated with pregnancy, gestational hypertension and pregnancy-induced hypertension), here’s what you should know.
Don’t panic. Though you are more at risk of having complication than women with normal blood pressure, many women with pre-existing high blood pressure have safe pregnancies and perfectly healthy babies. You’ll just need to work in concert with your physician pre-pregnancy.
Get your blood pressure under control. Make necessary lifestyle changes—regular exercise, losing weight if you’re overweight, watching your diet (especially salt intake)—before trying to conceive.
Have a frank conversation with your doctor about how hypertension could affect you and your baby. Get suggestions for what you can do to prevent (or limit) problems.
Monitor your meds. Some drugs that treat high blood pressure, specifically ACE inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers and renin inhibitors, have harmful side effects during the last trimester. Talk to your doctor about changing your dosage or stopping them while you’re pregnant. But continue taking your medication as prescribed until your health-care provider advises you otherwise.
During the Pregnancy
Keep your prenatal appointments. Your blood pressure will need to be monitored regularly.
Rest. If there’s ever a perfect time for a mid-day nap, pregnancy is it.
Eat a healthy diet. Make sure to get lots of calcium and include foods that are high in folic acid. Limit caffeine.
If you have chronic high blood pressure but plan to become pregnant (and according to the American Heart Association, more than 40 percent of African Americans have hypertension), follow your doctor’s advice and manage your blood pressure carefully to help ensure a normal pregnancy and a healthy baby.