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Blood Pressure & Pregnancy

Blood Pressure & Pregnancy
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Many of our colleagues at LloydsPharmacy have experienced the journey of pregnancy themselves, so we know how important it is to have the right information for what is best for you and your baby. Our teams are here to help you through your journey, at every stage. Here is what you need to know about Blood Pressure and Pregnancy.

Normal blood pressure during pregnancy:
Normal blood pressure is anything less than 120/80 mm Hg. Your consultant or GP will take a baseline blood pressure measurement on your first visit to determine what your normal blood pressure should be. This will then be monitored over the course of your pregnancy to determine whether it has decreased or increased.

Low blood pressure during pregnancy:
Some women experience low blood pressure during the first 24 weeks of pregnancy. It occurs due to the expansion of blood vessels to accommodate more blood supply for the baby. Extremely low blood pressure can lead to falls and organ damage. It is important to monitor your blood pressure under the guidance of a trained medical professional.

Symptoms of low blood pressure:

  • Blood pressure below 90/60 mm Hg.
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Feeling faint
  • Cold, clammy skin

3 Types of High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy:

  • Chronic Hypertension / Essential Hypertension:
    Pregnant women with chronic hypertension will have had high blood pressure before pregnancy. This is confirmed if diagnosed within the first 20 weeks of pregnancy.
  • Pregnancy Induced Hypertension / Gestational Hypertension:
    This is when your blood pressure rises during the pregnancy. This often happens during the third trimester, usually after 32 weeks. You may be at risk of developing pre-eclampsia if diagnosed with pregnancy induced hypertension.
  • Pre-eclampsia:
    This is when your blood pressure exceeds 140/90 millimetres of mercury or greater documented on two occasions. Eclampsia usually develops after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Between 2 and 5 in 100 women will be diagnosed with pre-eclampsia. Most women with pre-eclampsia will have healthy babies. However, if untreated, pre-eclampsia can be dangerous and even fatal for mothers and for babies. If you had pre-eclampsia in a previous pregnancy, your consultant may prescribe a low dose of aspirin to take after the first trimester.

Signs and symptoms of pre-eclampsia may include:

  • Excess protein in your urine
  • Additional signs of kidney problems
  • Severe headaches
  • Changes in vision, including temporary loss of vision, blurred vision, or light sensitivity
  • Upper abdominal pain, usually under your ribs on the right side
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Decreased urine output
  • Decreased levels of platelets in your blood
  • Impaired liver function
  • Shortness of breath

Complications from pre-eclampsia if untreated:

  • Fits (eclampsia)
  • The baby may not receive enough oxygen during a convulsion
  • Blood cell damage
  • Organ damage
  • Risk of stroke
  • Early delivery
  • Still Birth

Pre-eclampsia Treatment:

  • You will be admitted to hospital for close observation
  • Your blood pressure will be checked every 4 hours
  • Blood tests will be done frequently
  • Medication may be needed
  • If pre-eclampsia develops, usually the baby will be born within a week of the diagnosis.
  • Delivery of the baby is necessary to cure pre-eclampsia

People most at risk of pre-eclampsia

  • Women with diabetes, high blood pressure or kidney disease
  • Family history of the condition
  • Being over 40 years old
  • If it has been at least 10 years since your last pregnancy
  • Expecting multiple babies
  • Having a body mass index (BMI) of 35 or over

High Blood Pressure & Pregnancy Complications:

  • Restrict your baby's growth
    High blood pressure can reduce blood flow through the placenta. This can restrict your baby's growth. The baby’s growth will need to be monitored extra carefully. You will receive Doppler scans to check the blood flow in the baby’s umbilical cord. This helps to tell how well the placenta is working.
  • Placental abruption
    This is a rare condition where the afterbirth becomes separated from the inner wall of your womb. Placental abruption causes you to have severe stomach pain and vaginal bleeding. This is dangerous for you and your baby.
  • Premature or preterm labour
    High blood pressure can cause premature or pre-term labour.

High Blood Pressure After Giving Birth:

  • High blood pressure can last for several weeks post pregnancy
  • You will need to have follow-up check-ups with your doctors
  • Medication can be prescribed
  • Medication dosage will gradually be reduced over six weeks
  • Some blood pressure medications are safer to take than others when breastfeeding

Reduce Blood Pressure Post Pregnancy:

  • Stay Active
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Reduce your intake of bad fats
  • Enhance your intake of good fats
  • Add more fibre & whole grains to your diet
  • Track your blood pressure
  • Always take your medication as prescribed 

How Can We Help?

At your local LloydsPharmacy Store a member of our trained team will measure your blood pressure in a private consultation room. Your result will be explained to you in detail, and we will offer any advice and support needed to manage your blood pressure.