Managing Hypertension in Pregnancy

Managing Hypertension in Pregnancy

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Ok ladies, let’s get real about hypertension in pregnancy. I want to cover the very basics about what can cause it and how we can mange it.

Sometimes I feel like every other client I see has some hypertension issue and I hate to see that looming over them for their pregnancy. Especially because we know that being worried about hypertension can actually CAUSE hypertension. That’s just not fair!

There is so much fear when we hear about high blood pressure because we know that hypertension is often one of the first symptoms of the dreaded pregnancy complication preeclampsia. No one wants that! Additionally, hypertension in later pregnancy can often lead to being induced which if you’re of a certain mind, you might not want.

Some women are predisposed to having hypertension even when not pregnant; if that is the case then  it is more likely that they will have hypertension issues in pregnancy. This type of hypertension is called essential hypertension and ideally should be treated before pregnancy with diet and lifestyle changes as well as some herbs if needed. Some women who are not able to control their blood pressure with these natural methods need to be under the care of a physician who may recommend some type of blood pressure medication.

What I have found is that sometimes women enter into my care and they don’t usually have their blood pressure checked outside of pregnancy so they really aren’t aware of what their normal readings are. Naturally in the beginning of pregnancy blood pressure readings are lower because hormonal changes will cause the blood vessels to dilate which causes blood pressure to be lower. Blood pressure readings tend to be the lowest around 16 weeks and then usually increase a bit in the third trimester to about what they would be pre-pregnancy. However, this can sometimes be an issue when in the third trimester we see the blood pressure increasing to the mid to upper 130’s over 90’s. Maybe that is totally normal for that momma pre-pregnancy but that’s starting to get out of the “normal” range for a home birth.

Also, you may be asking “Why is hypertension even a big deal?” For example, maybe you have hypertension and your doctor has done all the tests for preeclampsia and they are totally fine and the ONLY problem is that your blood pressure is elevated. Isolated hypertension can still be dangerous for a few reasons but the biggest ones are…

  • Hypertension can put the baby at increased risk for intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR). This is because the blood flow to the placenta is restricted which means that the baby might not be getting everything he/she needs to develop normally which can result in restricted growth.
  • Hypertension increase the risk of your placenta abrupting from the wall of the uterus. This is much less common of course and is usually only seen in situations when the blood pressure is VERY high, but nevertheless it is a risk and a concern with extremely high blood pressure readings.

So, what can be done to stabilize blood pressure and keep things in the “normal” range?

Lifestyle

  • Get a blood pressure cuff and know what your normal readings are pre-pregnancy
  • Exercise regularly! Cardio especially helps to lower blood pressure. This can be as simple as going for a brisk walk a few times a week.
  • Take steps to lower stress levels. Blood pressure is very sensitive to stress levels! Some ideas for lowering stress levels:
    • Meditate each day, even if it’s just for ten minutes a day it can really make a difference
    • Eliminating extra activities or commitments that are causing undue stress
    • Setting healthy boundaries in your personal life
    • Listening to peaceful music throughout the day
    • Diffusing essential oils to calm and center your mind; I love lavender for this.
    • Schedule a prenatal massage

Herbs/Supplements

  • Healthy Heart Pregnancy Tea – This is a tea blend that I made specifically for clients who have had hypertension issues in a previous pregnancy or who’s blood pressure is starting to rise in pregnancy. It has hibiscus flowers, chamomile, Hawthorne berries, red raspberry leaf, nettle leaf, cinnamon chips and lavender. I have seen amazing results in people who have been willing to drink several cups of this tea a day combined with other lifestyle and diet changes. If you want to purchase this tea from me then send me a message! Otherwise you could mix up your own blend.
  • Hawthorne Berry Tincture – Hawthorne is very helpful in stabilizing blood pressure. However, it needs to be taken consistently for at least 6 weeks to see results. I highly recommend this tincture to my clients earlier in their pregnancy before hypertension has become an issue. If you are having elevated readings at lets say 36 weeks this tincture won’t really help you. I also make this tincture and sell it. Send me a message if you’re interested.
  • Calcium Magnesium Supplement – If you’re not already taking a good cal/mag supplement then this would be a good one to add. The one I really like is called CALM and you can find it at most supplement stores like Super Supplements, or follow the link to find it on Amazon.
  • Cayenne Pepper can help lower the diastolic (the bottom number) reading. It works by dilating the blood vessels which is the same thing that exercise does. You can take it in capsules with meals but be careful to not take it on an empty stomach or it might burn your stomach and/or cause acid reflux.

Diet Changes

  • Do an inventory of your diet. I recommend that clients download some sort of app where they can track what they are eating in a normal day and see where there is room for improvement. A healthy diet should include at least 80G of protein, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and be very low in simple carbs and refined sugars. Oh and did I mention 80g of protein?? 😉 Make sure you are getting enough protein in your diet! It can be surprising how much 80g actually is but it is so essential to find a way to get that into your diet.
  • Make sure you are drinking plenty of water. Usually two liters per day. You can replace a portion of this with herbal pregnancy tea which I highly recommend.
  • Salt your food to taste! This is so important. In the past it was thought that salt caused high blood pressure and that still has many pregnant women worried about their salt intake. Your body actually does need the salt for normal blood pressure. So, don’t overdo it but DO salt your food.
  • Include plenty of raw onions and garlic in your diet.
  • Cucumber and watermelon are both known for their ability to lower blood pressure.

There it is folks! There is so much more that can be said about high blood pressure regarding the types and it causes but this is just a basic overview of what I usually go over in prenatal care with my clients.

I hope you all have a lovely weekend and may your blood pressure be stable!

 

Rebekah Alice, LM

 

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Spokane midwife, Spokane midwives, Spokane midwifery, Spokane home birth, Spokane Christian midwife, Christian midwives, Cheney midwife, Cheney home birth, west plains midwife, home birth, midwifery, Spokane water bir