What is High Blood Pressure in Pregnancy?
Hypertension is the medical term used to describe high blood pressure. Regular monitoring of blood pressure levels is a very important element of modern antenatal care. While the Irish medical profession place great emphasis on blood pressure readings in pregnancy, many women remain confused about what actually constitutes high blood pressure. The normal blood pressure reading in a healthy woman of 25 is 120/70mm of mercury. The upper figure (120) is called the systolic blood pressure while the lower figure is the diastolic blood pressure. The upper figure, or systolic blood pressure, varies with emotion and exercise, but changes in the lower figure, or diastolic reading, indicate a fundamental alteration in the body.
What are the Causes of High Blood Pressure in Pregnancy?
In a normal pregnancy, the average reading of 120/70 should not alter greatly, although it may be reduced in mid-pregnancy. If a woman has raised blood pressure before pregnancy, she will need to be specially carefully monitored throughout her pregnancy. One of the most important reasons for regular monitoring of blood pressure throughout pregnancy is to detect the early signs of the pre-eclampsia, a condition which can have very serious consequences for both mother and baby if it is untreated.
Complementary/Alternative Treatments for High Blood Pressure in Pregnancy
One of the simplest and most effective ways to lower your blood pressure is to eat a healthy diet. Doctors recommend:
- Eating more fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy foods
- Cutting back on foods that are high in saturated fat, cholesterol, and total fat
- Eating more whole grain products, fish, poultry, and nuts
- Eating less red meat and sweets
- Eating foods that are rich in magnesium, potassium, and calcium