As you begin to near the end of your pregnancy, it’s easy to feel worried about every complication that could possibly happen to you. As much as the third trimester aches and pains can leave you counting down the days until you deliver your baby, you also don’t want that delivery to happen too soon. One concern is a sudden rise in blood pressure during pregnancy. Many women worry about getting induced with high blood pressure, and while it won’t happen to everyone, it definitely is a valid concern to have.
High blood pressure can be something that just needs to be monitored, or it could be a sign of a more serious condition. Either way, it’s not something that should ever be ignored. While an OB-GYN or nurse will talk you through what to expect if you develop high blood pressure when you’re in labor or during pregnancy, it’s always helpful to have an idea of what you could walk into before it ever happens.
What does it mean if you have high blood pressure?
The reason OB-GYNs keep an eye on your blood pressure during pregnancy is that high blood pressure can come with the risk of complications to both mom and baby. High blood pressure can affect the development of the placenta, which can lead to early delivery, low birth weight, and placental separation. Since delivering the baby is what will ultimately bring the high blood pressure down, sometimes doctors will recommend that pregnant women be induced before their due date, but this really depends on just how high the blood pressure is.
If you find out that you have high blood pressure when you’re in labor, try not to stress. Greg Marchand, MD, board-certified OB-GYN, tells Romper, “High blood pressure usually is not an issue if it’s first showing up when she’s ready to deliver. She can expect it to be monitored.” He notes that if blood pressure is really high, doctors will give medication to try and lower it and to prevent a potential seizure, which he notes is rare.
What is preeclampsia?
When you think of high blood pressure during pregnancy, preeclampsia is likely one of the first things to come to mind. To be clear, having high blood pressure does not automatically mean you have preeclampsia, but it’s definitely a concern you should be aware of.
“Preeclampsia is a disease of pregnancy caused by a woman’s reaction to the placenta,” Marchand explains. “Blood pressure rises and protein appears in the urine.” He notes that early stage preeclampsia is not serious, although it is something that needs to be monitored. “Women who are term should be delivered to avoid the preeclampsia worsening,” he says. So, if you’re over 37 weeks and you’ve developed high blood pressure and preeclampsia, then your chances of getting induced are pretty high.
“Severe preeclampsia is serious and may be treated with medications to prevent seizures and lower blood pressure,” Marchand says. “Women with severe preeclampsia may need to be delivered even if they are preterm — before 37 weeks. Delivery usually cures preeclampsia, whether it is severe or not.”
Do you get induced if you only have high blood pressure as a symptom?
Breathe a sigh of relief, because having high blood pressure does not automatically mean you are going to be induced. How high your blood pressure is really matters here — in some instances, it’s OK to try and wait for labor to happen naturally. “Mild high blood pressure can be monitored until 39 weeks if it is not accompanied by protein in the urine or other signs of problems with organs, which would make it preeclampsia,” Marchand says.
The signs of high blood pressure in pregnancy
One of the scariest things about high blood pressure is that there usually are no signs that it’s happening. “Severe cases may have a headache in the back of the head, blind spots in the vision, or new onset vomiting,” Marchand says. But for mild blood pressure, you might not even know until you go to your OB-GYN appointment.
What are some reasons for getting induced?
While being induced might sound like a nightmare, it’s not always the worst thing in the world — especially if it’s happening in order to keep you and your baby safe. It’s worth pointing out that inductions happen quite often and are very common. It may even be something you might want to look into if you’re trying to avoid a C-section. Marchand shares that new data has shown that inductions at 39 weeks reduce the cesarean section rate, so if your doctor recommends one by then because of high blood pressure or other issues, it’s worth considering..
According to Marchand, some of the most common reasons for getting induced are:
- Elective to reduce the risk of cesarean section
- Low amniotic fluid levels
- Preeclampsia spectrum disease
- Your water breaks
Remember: high blood pressure doesn’t mean induction is around the corner. Communicating with your OB-GYN about what to expect is always your best bet.
Greg Marchand, MD, FACOG, FACS, Accredited Master Surgeon/Board Certified in MIGS, board certified OBGYN, founder of the Marchand Institute