If you have no history of high blood pressure, but it develops after you have been pregnant for at least 20 weeks, you may have gestational hypertension—especially if you have no other underlying symptoms or conditions. This form of hypertension is often confirmed when your blood pressure returns to normal soon after your baby is born.
Some women have more risk for gestational hypertension, including those who:
Gestational hypertension may not be a problem unless your blood pressure is severely elevated. The main reason for concern is that gestational hypertension is linked to other health risks. An estimated 25 percent of expectant mothers with gestational hypertension also develop preeclampsia at some point in their pregnancy.
Preeclampsia can have an effect on the health of mother and baby. It can damage a mother’s vital organs, including the placenta, which brings oxygen and nutrients to the fetus. Other health implications from gestational hypertension include premature birth, restricted fetal growth and nourishment, and a higher risk for maternal seizures, stroke, bleeding, induced labor and cesarean delivery.
During pregnancy, your physician will monitor your blood pressure. When your upper number (your systolic blood pressure) is over 140 or your lower number (your diastolic blood pressure) is over 90, your blood pressure is elevated. One high reading does not mean that you have gestational hypertension. It’s the pattern of elevation over time and the severity of the reading that cause concern.
If you develop gestational hypertension, your condition should be carefully managed. Medications may be prescribed to help control your blood pressure. You may also take medications to help your baby’s vital organs develop, which could be important if your pregnancy is induced or you deliver earlier than planned.
Your prenatal visits are scheduled closer together and you may have extra testing, including:
Depending on how you and your baby progress, some physicians may recommend that you see a maternal-fetal medicine specialist
who is trained to manage high-risk pregnancies. If your blood pressure
is severely elevated, some physicians may monitor you for a few days in a
Very likely, you will be asked to keep a close watch on your blood
pressure and be on alert for symptoms of preeclampsia, which include:
Visit the following websites for reliable information about gestational hypertension.
Riley at IU Health offers a broad range of supportive services to make life better for families who choose us for their children's care.
The answers frequently asked questions about the relationship between preeclampsia and various forms of hypertension, including gestational hypertension.
The Society of Cardiovascular Angiography and Intervention publishes a patient-education website that shares information on the relationship between high blood pressure during pregnancy and potential cardiovascular disease later in life.