High Blood Pressure

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  • 1 Post By SarahMarie
  • 1 Post By SarahMarie

I have never had high blood pressure before, but when I go to the doctor, my blood pressure is almost always high the first time. If they take it again a few minutes later, it will go down to normal levels. I have tried relaxing and using different techniques, but they don't work for me. When I went to the doctor back at 13 weeks, my blood pressure was 132/86. The doctor immediately prescribed me a blood pressure medication. I asked her if I could monitor my blood pressure at home before beginning medication and she reluctantly agreed. I have been taking it every single day since then. Until two weeks ago, it has been around 116 and 70 something for the bottom number so I never started the medication. Around two weeks ago, week 28, it went up to the low-mid 120s and low 80s. It has never gone to the 130s or 90s.

I'm afraid that when I go to the doctor it will be even higher (as usual when I'm in the office) and that she will get onto me and be concerned. Should I be really worried? What is too high? I have not had any other problems, no swelling or protein in urine, so far. I have gained the lower side of healthy amount of weight and do not have gestational diabetes. What are some ways to keep my blood pressure low? I have been trying to reduce stress and get enough sleep (although I am bad about not sleeping enough). I'm sure worrying about everything right now is NOT helping my blood pressure stay low!
  • Up your dietary protein intake. Pregnant women should be eating 80-100 grams of protein daily.
  • Take a BRISK walk every day.
  • Do not let them take your BP until you have been SITTING for a full 5 minutes. Taking it immediately up entering the exam room is not good practice, and they should know that.
  • Make sure your feet are supported for those 5 minutes (not dangling!), and support the arm also.
  • Don't talk or do anything else during the reading.
  • Make sure they are using the correct size BP cuff for you. If your arms are large or muscular, you should be using a large size cuff. Regular size are for people who are at their recommended body weight for height...and that's not usually pregnant women.
If your BP is still high after doing all those things, you really need to take it seriously, because you could end up with pre-eclampsia and you will not be happy about that.
Thanks! I have been trying to take a walk every day or at least most days in the week. I don't overdo it, just enough to get outside and get a little exercise. They do usually want to take my blood pressure right away when I go in to the office. I monitor it every day at home and it's never as high as in the office (like I said, it has been in the 130s and higher 80s there). I think I think too much about it and stress myself out. I am going to make sure to get to my appointment at least 15 minutes early tomorrow so I can sit down and relax before I go back to get blood pressure taken. I might also try listening to music or something to calm down in the waiting room. As far as protein, when I first found out I was pregnant, I was checking to make sure I got 70-90 grams daily. After a while, I quit checking so closely, but I might just evaluate what I eat for a day or two to see that I'm still getting enough.
So I had to reschedule my appointment to today. My blood pressure was a little high, as usual, at the office. She asked to see my records from where I take it daily at home and said those numbers look just fine. I have gained 6 pound total now, which she said was fine and wasn't concerned about at all. Still no swelling or any other problems and the baby's heartbeat is great. However, because of the high numbers in the office, she wants to start doing a weekly non stress test. I read about it and it doesn't sound too bad. I think everything will be fine.

Anyone have any experience with the test? What can you do during the test (can I read or something)?
I developed preeclampsia with my first pregnancy, and even after delivery my blood pressure was still high. I was on meds for 6 weeks and then stopped because it was back down to normal.

The non stress test is basically monitoring your blood pressure, the baby's heartbeat and then recording contractions, too. I think that's all it does. It's pretty boring.
I had my first NST today. Before I went in, they did the usual: blood pressure, urine, weight. Everything, including my blood pressure (120/82), was fine. I think I didn't stress out because I didn't realize they were going to do it when I went in (I thought it was part of the NST). I meant to ask the doctor more questions, but I was dealing with other issues at that moment. I did ask about my insurance covering the tests. She said she didn't really know how much they cost and that it was part of a "high risk pregnancy" covered differently by different insurance companies.

I'm still not 100% sure why I got labeled high risk in the first place. I went ahead and scheduled an appointment for next Thursday, but I don't really see the need for all of this. I'm thinking about after next week if the test is fine again and everything is completely normal, asking the doctor if all of this is really necessary every week. I don't think it is, however, I'm not a doctor and obviously haven't been to medical school. Any thoughts or opinions about this?
panther~gia likes this.
Hmm. I think I mentioned this in another thread, but I also tend to have high BP when stressed, which I usually am at doctors' offices and other medical situations. They've asked me to record at home, where it's perfectly fine, and it's never been in the "too high" range at the office, always borderline. Anyway, I'm not sure why they've labelled you high risk either. I'd ask lots of questions. If you aren't comfortable with something, find out more. Be as informed as possible! Also, check with your insurance company about your coverage for all the extra tests. Obviously, if you DO need it, it's worth it, but it's also worth finding out your coverage so you don't add to the stress by getting a big unexpected bill.
I was talking with my husband and said if I had to do it again, I think I would choose a midwife or someone that I knew was more on the same page with me at the beginning. This is the same doctor that told me that I DO want an epidural after I told her more than once that I really don't.

How are you doing Like Australia?
It's not too late to switch now if you're really feeling uncomfortable. When I went to the info session for my current midwife practice, there was a woman there who was already 36 weeks! Really, do try to find out if you're truly "high risk" though, because you might have a hard time making the switch with that label following you, even in subsequent pregnancies. Because of my high-ish BP, I've had a lot more labwork than other clients that my midwife sees and she's super cautious about everything. From the beginning, though, she's always emphasized that everything was my choice and explained why she recommended/encouraged whatever test it was. Luckily everything has come back fine, but it is certainly nerve wracking!

Overall, I'm doing well. I'm still kind of bummed that I have to "take it easy" for a few more weeks, but everyone keeps telling me I won't have the chance to just lie around and do nothing soon enough, so I'm trying to enjoy it.

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I was talking with my husband and said if I had to do it again, I think I would choose a midwife or someone that I knew was more on the same page with me at the beginning. This is the same doctor that told me that I DO want an epidural after I told her more than once that I really don't.
Originally Posted by SarahMarie

Until you see a baby head, it's not too late to switch care providers. Sooner is better, but you can change to a midwife even in the last week, or even hour, of pregnancy.
Take it easy! Don't try to exercise a lot right now. Don't exercise just before an appointment. Pregnancy induced hypertension is NOT the same as regular hypertension and you should not treat it the same (with lots of exercise etc.). The treatments for regular hypertension are for long term benefits, but in pregnancy the hypertension will go away when you give birth so you should concentrate on short term management. Relax, take it easy, don't do extra exercise. In the long term, exercise strengthens the heart muscles and reduces blood pressure, but during pregnancy you don't have that kind of time. In the short term, exercise INCREASES blood pressure.

Stress also increases blood pressure, so if you can, reduce your work load and commitments. Give yourself a vacation until the baby is born.

If your blood pressure gets to 140/90 your doctor will consider induction. If youre not to term, they will likely prescribe strict bed rest to manage the blood pressure.

My blood pressure crept up all through pregnancy and at 37 weeks it reached 140/90 and I was induced. No protein in my urine. The induction didn't take, but I was managing the blood pressure well enough with relaxation and meditation that they monitored me at the hospital for a week, hoping that id start labor on my own. I was diagnosed with mild pre eclampsia. They wouldn't let me go home because of the risk of seizures. In the end the inductions didn't take and because of the risk of seizures I got a c section. The sad thing was that I was hoping for a home birth. And I thought I was doing the right thing to manage the blood pressure by exercising everyday (just a walk every day). In reality the exercise didn't help, and if I hadn't walked to the last appointment, my blood pressure might not have been so high and I might have gotten another week before having to go to the hospital. So don't do what I did. Take it easy.

Diet makes absolutely no difference with pregnancy induced hypertension. It's not preventable, there is no cure except giving birth. The best you can do is to manage it with rest and medication until you give birth.

Last edited by earthnut; 06-23-2012 at 02:43 PM.
I disagree re: diet/exercise's impact on PIH. Pregnant women with Diets high in protein, along with moderate exercise, have lower likelihood of pre-eclampsia. Most OBs won't tell you that, but there have been several studies done on the subject. Personally, I'd do what I could to avoid unnecessary meds, but to each their own I suppose.

SarahMarie - if you haven't already, take a look at the Brewer/bradley diet and see what you think. It expands on what RCW described.

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There has been no peer-reviewed studies, no clinical trials that show that a high protein diet prevents or cures preeclampsia. Brewers diet / blue ribbon baby is not based on sound science when it comes to preeclampsia. A healthy diet is important for all pregnant women, but diet has no bearing on preeclampsia.

Read this before you put your faith in the brewer diet: www.preeclampsia.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=9742

The cause of preeclampsia is not known. Likely there are multiple causes, and it depends on the woman. Preeclampsia runs in families. Women with obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes are at greater risk for preeclampsia, but once you have high blood pressure in pregnancy, the steps you would normally take for those problems are too little too late. There is no cure for preeclampsia except giving birth.

Medication is to be avoided in pregnancy, but high blood pressure can lead to preeclampsia, which can lead to premature birth, and serious health dangers to both mother and child. If preeclampsia occurs early in pregnancy, medication may be necessary to prevent premature birth. Each woman has to weigh the risks and talk to their doctor before they decide to take it, or not.

Exercise is good for pregnant women in general, but exercise does increase blood pressure in the short term. Take your blood pressure before and after exercise and see for yourself. Exercise during pregnancy does not prevent nor cure preeclampsia and can indeed make it worse. This is why bed rest is prescribed if you develop preeclampsia and for whatever reason cannot deliver immediately.

This post is not meant to scare the OP, but I believe knowledge is power. OP, there is nothing you could have done to prevent getting high blood pressure. It's not your fault. Keep taking your blood pressure, and if you can avoid a premature birth, your baby will be healthy and this will all become a distant memory soon.

Last edited by earthnut; 06-24-2012 at 12:12 AM.
I was pretty active before I found out I was pregnant and have done pretty much the same activities, only taking it a little easier, since I found out. I start classes this Thursday and want to see if some of the relaxation techniques they teach help me to keep my blood pressure down. I also do eat well, but that's nothing new with being pregnant. As far as switching doctors, I think at this point I really need to do that...like this week!
Good luck with finding someone who meets your needs better and makes you feel more comfortable, SarahMarie. Do you have a la leche league in your area? Even if you haven't connected with them yet (or hadn't planned to), they might be a good resource in helping you find a doctor or midwife that has a more natural approach. Also, I'm not sure what class you're taking, but the teacher and/or other students there might be a good resource as well.
I have already talked to the teacher and she is all for natural birth as much as possible (which is why I chose that class). She suggested a doctor at the same group as mine. I don't know how awkward that would be though...
I have already talked to the teacher and she is all for natural birth as much as possible (which is why I chose that class). She suggested a doctor at the same group as mine. I don't know how awkward that would be though...
Originally Posted by SarahMarie
Awkward or not, it's your choice. Remember, even before you're a pregnant woman, you're a consumer PAYING for their services. If you're not happy with the service they're giving you, you have every right to discontinue it. The only caution I have for staying with a group that you're not 100% comfortable with is that some groups only have one doctor "on call" at a time, so depending on when you go into labor, you may get a doctor you didn't like to begin with or don't know at all. One of the women I was in a class with was with a group who had 4 OBs I think and she really only liked one of them. The OB she liked gave her "tips" for "dealing with" the others in case she goes into labor on their shift and that made me really uncomfortable, even just to think about.

I really hope you find someone you like. It has made all the difference for me. Even my BP is lower at my appointments now than it was at my previous practice.
I had almost every risk factor for preeclampsia when I was pg and I had about a million different doctors monitoring me. I also went for weekly non stress tests, which I found to be incredibly annoying.

One of the doctors I saw was a nephrologist who specialized in high blood pressure in pregnancy. She told me you treat HBP in pregnancy the opposite of how you would normally treat it. She told me not to exercise at all and basically take it easy when I could.

I thought I would be one of those people you saw at the gym exercising right up until my due date. I was very fit before I was pg and thought I could continue a modified version of my fitness routine, but she said NO.

I was on already on medication before I was pg and my bp was okay until the very end, then things went downhill quickly. I ended up having HELLP and had to have a c-section because they thought an induction would take too long. They were afraid my organs would start shutting down.

Don't mess around with your blood pressure. I think you're fine if the elevation is really due to stress at the doctor's office, but if you see it start to go up at home take it seriously.
If you got nothing to bring to the table - don't even bother sitting down.
I do agree that the Brewer diet's affect on Pre-E is probably minimal. I suggested to the OP that she push the protein, simply because it's a good way to eat for pregnancy anyway, and it doesn't worsen the risk for Pre-E. Brisk aerobic exercise is good for preventing regular high BP...not all high BP in pregnancy is Pre-E...but I agree that it's unhelpful if the high BP turns out to be Pre-E. The main thrust of my advice early in the thread was to make sure the BP measurement is being taken correctly. Too many healthcare providers just suck at taking it...they do it too soon after arrival in the exam room, with the wrong size cuff, in the incorrect position, talking all the time...and that leads to too many women being placed on bedrest who don't really need it.
I've had two non stress tests now. Both have gone well. In fact, the doctor's exact words on Thursday were, "She passed...she did beautifully." She asked how my blood pressure was at home and I showed her my records. She says she's going to call it "benign gestational hypertension." Anyway, she still wants me to do NSTs weekly, but isn't really concerned so much.

ETA: My numbers at home are still just fine.
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