Low Blood Pressure During Pregnancy: 10 Symptoms

Low blood pressure

In pregnancy, just like at any other time in life, high blood pressure (known as hypertension), requires a comprehensive management approach. Low blood pressure (known as hypotension), whether in pregnancy or otherwise, is less likely to be a cause for concern but will still be monitored.

Whether your blood pressure condition pre-existed your pregnancy or started in pregnancy (gestational), your doctor will work with you on how to best address your blood pressure issues to keep you and your growing baby safe. 

Low blood pressure during pregnancy has been associated with poor perinatal outcomes. However, whether this association is causal or is due to confounding has never been carefully assessed. The studies and the observations during last year’s emphases that low blood pressure by itself does not increase risk of poor perinatal outcomes at a population level. However, this conclusion may not apply to individual patients who also have a compromised plasma volume expansion or pathological homeostasis.

Having low blood pressure during pregnancy is common. Most of the time, this condition won’t cause major problems, and blood pressure will return to pregnancy levels after you give birth. In some cases, however, very low blood pressure can be dangerous for mom and baby.

Midwives regularly measure your blood during pregnancy and the postpartum period. You will likely have normal blood pressure during pregnancy. Only about 10% of pregnant people will develop high blood pressure. If you do develop high blood pressure while pregnant or after giving birth, you will likely not experience any major problems, nor will your baby.

hypertension

But first of all you need to know what hypertension is?

Hypertension is the clinical term used to describe high blood pressure. Blood pressure is the force applied by the body’s blood against the walls of the body’s arteries, the vessels that carry blood away from the heart to the rest of the body. High blood pressure is when this force is greater than usual. Midwives and other health care providers measure blood pressure by tightening a cuff around the upper arm and using a stethoscope to listen to blood flow. They measure blood pressure using two numbers. The first number (systolic) describes the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats. The second number (diastolic) describes the pressure in your arteries when your heart rests between beats

Effects of pregnancy on blood pressure

If you’re pregnant, your doctor or nurse will likely check your blood pressure at every prenatal visit.

Blood pressure is the force of your blood as it pushes against artery walls while your heart pumps. It can go up or down at certain times of the day, and it may change if you’re feeling excited or nervous.

Your blood pressure reading reveals important information about the health of you and your baby. It can also be a way for your doctor to determine if you have another condition that needs to be checked out, like preeclampsia.

Changes that happen in your body during pregnancy can affect your blood pressure. When carrying a baby, your circulatory system expands quickly, which may cause a drop in blood pressure.

It’s common for your blood pressure to lower in the first 24 weeks of pregnancy.

Other factors that can contribute to low blood pressure include

  • dehydration
  • anemia
  • internal bleeding
  • prolonged bed rest
  • certain medications
  • heart conditions
  • endocrine disorders
  • kidney disorders
  • infections
  • nutritional deficiencies
  • allergic reaction

Also, we can explain what’s considered low blood pressure during pregnancy?

Current guidelines define a normal blood pressure reading as less than 120 mm Hg systolic (the top number) over 80 mm Hg diastolic (the bottom number).

Doctors typically determine you have low blood pressure if your reading is below 90/60 mm Hg.

Some people have low blood pressure their whole lives and have no signs of it.

Some of the common symptoms of low blood pressure

Signs and symptoms of low blood pressure may include:

  • dizziness
  • lightheadedness, especially when standing or sitting up
  • fainting
  • nausea
  • tiredness
  • blurred vision
  • unusual thirst
  • clammy, pale, or cold skin
  • rapid or shallow breathing
  • lack of concentration

Call your healthcare provider if you develop any symptoms of low blood pressure during pregnancy.

Some of the basic diagnosis

  • Low blood pressure is diagnosed with a simple test.
  • Your doctor or nurse will place an inflatable cuff around your arm and use a pressure-measuring gauge to calculate your blood pressure.
  • This test can be performed in your doctor’s office, but you can also buy your own device and measure your blood pressure at home.
  • If you have low blood pressure throughout your pregnancy, your doctor might order more tests to rule out other conditions.

Treating Low Blood Pressure

The main goal in treating low blood pressure during pregnancy is symptom reduction, especially if you are experiencing dizziness and fainting. For the most part, many people can manage symptoms of low blood pressure with lifestyle modifications, such as:

  • Staying hydrated
  • Consuming enough calories to support you and your baby
  • Avoiding standing for long periods of time
  • Moving slowly from a supine or prone position to a standing position

Blood pressure tends to be lower when a person is at rest and can cause blood to pool in the legs, so it’s important to move positions or get up from a seated or reclining position slowly to avoid the onset of symptoms, such as dizziness or fainting.

Future reading

1. Friedman EA, Neff RK. Pregnancy hypertension: a systematic evaluation of clinical diagnostic criteria. Littleton, MA: PSG Publishing Co., 1977.

2. Steer P. Factors influencing relative weights of placenta and newborn infant. (Letter). BMJ 1997.

3. Niswander KR, Gordon M, eds. The Collaborative Perinatal Study of the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke: the women and their pregnancies. Philadelphia, PA: W. B. Saunders, 1972.

4. Zhang J, Harville E. Birth-weight-for-gestational-age patterns by race, sex, and parity in the United States population: the 5th percentile. Paediatr Perinatal Epidemiol 1998.

5. Ng PH, Walters WA. The effects of chronic maternal hypotension during pregnancy. Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol 1992.

6. Churchill D, Perry IJ, Beevers DG. Ambulatory blood pressure in pregnancy and fetal growth. Lancet 1997.

7. Grünberger W, Leodolter S, Parschalk O. Maternal hypotension: fetal outcome in treated and untreated cases. Gynecol Obstet Invest 1979.

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