Pregnancy is a strange, stressful time in a woman's life that can lead to some tricky health issues during the nine month period. Sometimes, even with all proper precautions taken and every effort made to reduce your risk, you might end up with a health scare or two. One of the more common health issues of pregnancy is what's known as "gestational hypertension," or high blood pressure. If you've been diagnosed with high blood pressure, it's important to know your limitations and the things you can't do when you're pregnant and have high blood pressure.
Blood pressure is the measurement of force by which your blood is pumped through your veins. When that pressure exceeds a certain limit, it's considered "high," and you're diagnosed as hypertensive, according to The University of Michigan. Women who were hypertensive before they became pregnant will likely continue to have high blood pressure through their pregnancy, while others may develop gestational hypertension, usually after the 20th week of pregnancy. It can be a dangerous condition, noted Stanford University, because one in four women with hypertension, specifically chronic hypertension, during pregnancy will develop the dangerous, life-threatening condition known as preeclampsia.
That's why it's important to know the precautions to take while you're pregnant if you have high blood pressure.
1. Don't Neglect Your Diet
I contacted Dr. Angela Jones, Astroglide’s resident sexual health advisor and board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist, to find out more about things you shouldn't do when you have high blood pressure during pregnancy. She tells Romper that it's paramount to keep a healthy diet during your pregnancy, especially if you have high blood pressure.
The links between diet and high blood pressure are strong. A recent study, published in BMC Medical, showed that what we eat when we're pregnant, down to the very nutrients we consume, has a direct effect on our blood pressure, both negatively and positively. This particular study noted a link between magnesium and calcium on the pregnant body, noting how important it is to get all of your recommended daily allowance.
2. Don't Ignore Your Symptoms
According to the University of Michigan, some of the symptoms of high blood pressure and the more serious preeclampsia can be disguised by the random goings on of pregnancy. Some of these are swollen hands, headache, or a rapid weight gain. If you notice any of these, you really need to call your physician.
It's pretty easy to neglect the small things when you're pregnant. I know I did. But, when you're dealing with high blood pressure, there's no way around making sure that everything is how it should be. Keep an open dialogue with your provider, and keep a close watch on yourself.
3. Don't Stop Working Out (Unless You're Instructed To Do So)
Dr. Jones tells Romper that your fitness routine should stay. It would seem obvious that you'd want to take it easy if you have high blood pressure during pregnancy, but Dr. Jones says this is not the case. "Exercise and healthy diet continue to be a must and are beneficial in either helping to prevent or manage hypertension."
After speaking to your OB-GYN, this is the perfect time to start working out with a certified personal trainer who specializes in pregnancy. There are more of those than you think. They can guide you to a safe and healthy routine for those long months.
4. Don't Drink Or Smoke
I know it seems like a no-brainer, but studies show that somewhere around 9 percent of women admit to having some alcohol during pregnancy. Dr. Jones tells Romper that "illegal drugs, alcohol, and smoking are the most obvious things to avoid, as each could exacerbate hypertensive disorders." So even if you're tempted, you really need to lay off the wine, cigarettes, vape pen, or pot.
5. Don't Neglect Your Prenatal Vitamins Or Prescribed Drugs
If you've been prescribed medicine for your high blood pressure, you need to take them. I know from personal experience that they can have some disgusting side effects, but they really do work, according to the University of Michigan. The same thing goes for your prenatal vitamins. Again, they can really suck, but nutrition is incredibly vital if you're experiencing high blood pressure.
6. Don't Get Too Stressed
I know, it seems impossible. But if you're stressing about your health or pregnancy while you have high blood pressure, you might find your readings raising even higher. According to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, high levels of stress can actually cause high blood pressure, so you'll need to keep yourself as calm as you can. Make sure those around you know that keeping you stress-free is important and talk to your doctor if you find yourself unable to keep yourself calm.
Otherwise, there isn't a lot you can't do if you have high blood pressure during pregnancy, says Dr. Jones. Just make sure you keep up with all of your appointments and pay attention to your body. Your gut can tell you a lot.