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High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure (hypertension) is one of the most common medical complications in pregnancy.

If you have hypertension—or gestational hypertension—your high blood pressure can be managed by regular monitoring of you (by taking your blood pressure) and your developing baby (through ultrasound). Expectant women with hypertension are sometimes prescribed medication to keep their blood pressure under control.

Hypertension is defined as a blood pressure reading that exceeds 140/90— noted on 2 separate occasions at least 4 hours apart.

If you have gestational hypertension, you may be at risk (and will be monitored) for serious complications, including:

  • Fetal growth restriction
  • Preterm delivery
  • Placental abruption – when the placenta separates early from the uterus
  • Preeclampsia – when high blood pressure leads to the damage of another organ (typically the liver and kidneys)

What a Blood Pressure Reading Means

When your heart beats, it pushes blood through your arteries (to deliver it to the rest of your body), creating pressure within the blood vessels. In a blood pressure reading:

The top number (systolic) measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart contracts.

The bottom number (diastolic) measures that pressure when your heart is in between beats—or at rest.

A blood pressure reading of 119/79 or lower is considered in the range of normal.

Learn more about how to understand blood pressure readings.