Posts Tagged ‘hypertension’

Thinking of getting pregnant? Get your blood pressure checked.

Friday, February 6th, 2015

blood pressureWhen was the last time you had your blood pressure checked? Nearly one in three adults has high blood pressure or hypertension. And yet, many of us do not even know that we have it. High blood pressure can be especially dangerous for both mom and baby during pregnancy. If you have high blood pressure and are thinking about getting pregnant, it is very important that you talk to your health care provider and get it under control as soon as possible.

Blood pressure is the force of the blood pushing against the walls of the arteries (blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood to all parts of the body). When the pressure in the arteries becomes too high, it is called high blood pressure or hypertension.

If you are 20 pounds or more overweight or if you have a family history of hypertension, you are at an increased risk to have high blood pressure yourself.

If you do have high blood pressure, there are a few lifestyle changes that you can make to get it under control, and to help prepare your body for pregnancy:
• Eat healthy foods and reduce your intake of salt, cholesterol, and saturated fats
• Exercise regularly
• Get to a healthy weight
• Don’t smoke or drink alcohol.

Not all medications for high blood pressure are safe to continue during pregnancy. If you are taking any prescriptions to manage your hypertension, make sure you discuss them with your doctor. You should never stop taking any medications without talking to your provider first.

About 8 percent of women have problems with high blood pressure during pregnancy. Although most health problems can be managed with regular prenatal care, pregnant women with high blood pressure are more likely than women without high blood pressure to have these complications:
• Low birthweight: when a baby weighs less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces. High blood pressure can narrow blood vessels in the uterus and your baby may not get enough oxygen and nutrients, causing him to grow slowly.
• Premature birth: birth that happens before 37 weeks of pregnancy. A pregnant woman with severe high blood pressure or preeclampsia may need to give birth early to avoid serious health problems for her and her baby.
• Placental abruption: the placenta separates from the wall of the uterus before birth. It can separate partially or completely. If this happens, your baby may not get enough oxygen and nutrients.

Work with your provider before and during your pregnancy to control your blood pressure. Making a few changes now can help you to have a safer, healthier pregnancy.

When exercise isn’t a good idea

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

pregnant-exerciseMany women want to get into really good shape before having a baby. This is an excellent idea, because you don’t want to diet or start a new and aggressive exercise routine when you’re pregnant. Start a healthy habit now.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that healthy pregnant women get at least 2 1/2 hours of aerobic exercise every week. This means that most pregnant women should try to get 30 minutes of aerobic exercise on most, if not all, days. Go for it, exercise during pregnancy and stay fit.

BUT, If you have any of the conditions below, do not exercise. Check with your health care provider.

• Heart disease
• Lung disease
• Incompetent cervix: The cervix is the narrow, outer end of the uterus. If it is weak, it cannot hold the fetus in the uterus.
• Preterm labor (before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy)
• Multiple pregnancy (twins, triplets or more) at risk for preterm labor
• Frequent bleeding from the vagina during months 4-9 of pregnancy
• Placenta previa: The placenta connects the baby’s blood supply to the mother’s blood. Attached to the mother’s uterus, it is an unborn baby’s lifeline. Placenta previa is a low-lying placenta that covers part or all of the cervix. This can block the baby’s exit from the uterus.
• Hypertension

Remember, if you experience any symptoms of a problem, or your’e just not sure, stop exercising and call you doc right away.

No cheating on bed rest

Thursday, August 20th, 2009

bed-rest“I’m putting you on bed rest” can mean a lot of different things.  Some women are put on bed rest at home, some are in the hospital.  Some are on partial bedrest, meaning they can get up and fix a sandwich for lunch, take a shower, etc. and stay off their feet the rest of the time.  Others are on strict bed rest and must remain horizontal, perhaps hooked to monitors, at all times.  You’ve got to know exactly what your doc means.

A lot depends on why you’re on bed rest.  Although there is no clear consensus on the benefits of it, many doctors prescribe bed rest to address a complication.   If your blood pressure is elevated, bed rest may help reduce the pressure. It may increase blood flow to the placenta or reduce strain with certain placental complications.  Bed rest may help reduce vaginal bleeding, take pressure off an incompetent or effacing cervix, lower the chance of preterm labor and the possibility of delivering too early. Bed rest can mean a lot of different things, so if your provider mentions it to you, ask a lot of questions so that you fully understand what is meant.  (Can I use the toilet, take a shower or bath? Can I sit up, go into the kitchen? Is sex off limits? What exercises are OK and what’s not?)

The object of bed rest is to allow pregnancy to continue in as healthy a way and for as long as possible.  But it can turn into a real drag pretty quickly.  If you’re going stir crazy and tempted to cheat, don’t.  Instead, work on crossword puzzles, Sudoku, photo albums, baby announcements, read, listen to books on tape, watch movies, write emails or blog posts… Take up a new hobby like scrapbooking or knitting. Plan a girls night in, watch a flick and do your nails. Allow your family and friends to help you.  Work up weekly menus and shopping lists for them.  Most of them will be happy to help keep you and your baby healthy.  It’s not forever, and it is for the best possible outcome.