Easy Ways to Prevent High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy

Pregnancy can be an incredibly exciting time for the family expecting — but as you know, it can also come with a wealth of complications. From gestational diabetes to trouble maintaining a healthy weight, breezing through pregnancy isn’t always the case for all women. And for some, high blood pressure while with child is a major health concern.

What is gestational hypertension?

Pregnant woman with her doctor

A pregnant woman sees her doctor. | Vasyl Dolmatov/ iStock/ Getty Images Plus

Healthline explains when you have high blood pressure, your numbers are greater than or equal to 140/90 mm Hg. And while some women may already have hypertension prior to their pregnancy, other women develop it later on. As for gestational hypertension, the Mayo Clinic notes women who have this develop it after 20 weeks of pregnancy. For some, this means preeclampsia is also a concern, which can further damage organs and can lead to fatal complications.

High blood pressure is never good, but pregnant women should be particularly vigilant in keeping their numbers in a healthy range. The Mayo Clinic explains hypertension can cause there to be decreased blood flow to the placenta or premature delivery, and it can also cause the placenta to separate from the inner wall of the uterus before you’re ready to deliver the baby. Additionally, high blood pressure during pregnancy means you’re at an increased risk for cardiovascular disease later on.

Easy ways to prevent it

Young pregnant women doing yoga exercise in gym

Pregnant women doing yoga | Shironosov/iStock/Getty Images

There are times when developing high blood pressure is beyond your control (Healthline notes if you’re carrying more than one child at once, this may increase your risk, for example). But there are plenty of other factors that are totally within your grasp. If you want to keep your numbers healthy, here’s what you can do:

Keep yourself active: 

The American Pregnancy Association notes if you’ve already developed preeclampsia, your healthcare provider may recommend bed rest. But if you’re just in the preventative stages for high blood pressure, you’ll definitely want to maintain an exercise routine.

While running may prove too difficult as you get further into pregnancy, cardio like swimming or stationary biking are excellent choices for getting your heart pumping. Training with light weights is also a good choice (try squats and shoulder raises here). And if you’re looking for something a little less intense, yoga is the next best option.

Eat the right foods:

Your diet during pregnancy is more important than ever, as the food you’re eating goes to both you and your baby. Whole grains for fiber, lean meats for protein, and dark, leafy veggies are packed with vitamins you need. When in doubt, always go for vibrant produce, as that’s typically a good indicator it’s a good source of nutrients. And if you’re eating plenty of protein and fiber, you won’t be overindulging on sweets or simple carbs that can cause unnecessary weight gain.

Maintain all of your prenatal appointments:

The American Pregnancy Association reminds us that keeping all of your prenatal appointments is vital. The doctor will monitor your blood pressure levels on a regular basis, so you’ll always know where you stand. This is the perfect opportunity to ask your doctor any questions you may have as well — and depending on how well everything is going, they’re likely to have some additional tips for you, too. You definitely don’t want to skip out on these appointments.

Monitor weight gain: 

You can expect to gain up to 35 pounds (or more for some) during your pregnancy. But if you find you’re eating a lot of snack foods and moving very little, there’s a good chance you could surpass this — and that can then lead to high blood pressure. Your doctor will monitor your weight at prenatal checkups, but don’t let the number on the scale catch you by surprise. Weigh yourself weekly to know exactly where you stand and make adjustments to your lifestyle as needed.

Ask your doctor about medication:

 The Mayo Clinic notes some blood pressure meds are totally safe to use during your pregnancy — but such is not the case for all. If you have prehypertension and want to ensure your levels don’t rise, talk to your healthcare provider about the best course of action. They’ll know which medications should generally be avoided while you’re with child and which ones are safe to take.

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