High blood pressure can lead to serious complications during pregnancy
There are two main types of high blood pressure: primary and secondary. Primary hypertension accounts for 90 to 95 percent of all high blood pressure cases and has no single identifiable cause but can include genetic and environmental factors. Secondary hypertension is more rare and develops as a result of another medical condition. Whether a woman has primary hypertension before her pregnancy or if she develops high blood pressure while pregnant, managing the condition is critical to ensure a healthy pregnancy and safe delivery.
Diet and Exercise
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle by eating well balanced meals and following a regular exercise regimen are natural ways to lower blood pressure during pregnancy. Women who are pregnant and suffer from high blood pressure, which is commonly referred to as gestational hypertension, should eat a nutritious diet rich in protein and raw fruits and vegetables. Doctors recommend that a pregnant woman with gestational hypertension eat a minimum of 80 grams of protein each day in order to lower blood pressure. Lean meats, fish, and poultry should be eaten daily, but red meat should be limited since it has been linked to high blood pressure. Eliminating caffeine, carbonated beverages and salt can help to lower blood pressure, as well as avoiding alcohol and cigarettes, which should be done regardless if hypertension is present or not.
Participating in a regular exercise regimen throughout pregnancy can also help to lower blood pressure. Moderate exercise, such as walking, swimming, or yoga, three times per week will help to lower blood pressure while increasing muscle tone, strength, and flexibility. As an added bonus, women who exercise regularly while they are pregnant return more quickly to their pre-pregnancy weight than those who do not. (See References 2)
Other Ways to Lower Blood Pressure
In addition to eating healthy and exercising regularly, pregnant women should try to avoid stress or reduce it whenever possible. Scheduling time to relax by meditation can be beneficial in reducing stress and lowering blood pressure. Also, two to four capsules of passionflower can be taken each day, but a health care professional should approve the use of such a supplement before adding it to a prenatal diet.
It is also important to note that a woman who develops high blood pressure during her pregnancy does not have an increased chance of developing chronic high blood pressure or other cardiovascular problems. Blood pressure typically returns to its normal range six weeks after delivery, according to the American Heart Association.