Elsevier Logo



Learn more about our Patient Engagement products now! Turn your patients into active participants in their healthcare by giving them easy access to the same evidence-based information you trust – but delivered in an easy-to-understand format.

 Hypertension During Pregnancy, Easy-to-Read

Hypertension During Pregnancy

Hypertension is also called high blood pressure. High blood pressure means that the force of your blood moving in your body is too strong. It can cause problems for you and your baby. Different types of high blood pressure can happen during pregnancy. The types are:
  • High blood pressure before you got pregnant. This is called chronic hypertension. This can continue during your pregnancy. Your doctor will want to keep checking your blood pressure. You may need medicine to keep your blood pressure under control while you are pregnant. You will need follow-up visits after you have your baby.
  • High blood pressure that goes up during pregnancy when it was normal before. This is called gestational hypertension. It will usually get better after you have your baby, but your doctor will need to watch your blood pressure to make sure that it is getting better.
  • Very high blood pressure during pregnancy. This is called preeclampsia. Very high blood pressure is an emergency that needs to be checked and treated right away.
  • You may develop very high blood pressure after giving birth. This is called postpartum preeclampsia. This usually occurs within 48 hours after childbirth but may occur up to 6 weeks after giving birth. This is rare.

How does this affect me?

If you have high blood pressure during pregnancy, you have a higher chance of developing high blood pressure:
  • As you get older.
  • If you get pregnant again.
In some cases, high blood pressure during pregnancy can cause:
  • Stroke.
  • Heart attack.
  • Damage to the kidneys, lungs, or liver.
  • Preeclampsia.
  • Jerky movements you cannot control (convulsions or seizures).
  • Problems with the placenta.

How does this affect my baby?

Your baby may:
  • Be born early.
  • Not weigh as much as he or she should.
  • Not handle labor well, leading to a c-section birth.

What are the risks?

  • Having high blood pressure during a past pregnancy.
  • Being overweight.
  • Being 35 years old or older.
  • Being pregnant for the first time.
  • Being pregnant with more than one baby.
  • Becoming pregnant using fertility methods, such as IVF.
  • Having other problems, such as diabetes, or kidney disease.
  • Having family members who have high blood pressure.

What can I do to lower my risk?

  • Keep a healthy weight.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Follow what your doctor tells you about treating any medical problems that you had before becoming pregnant.
It is very important to go to all of your doctor visits. Your doctor will check your blood pressure and make sure that your pregnancy is progressing as it should. Treatment should start early if a problem is found.

How is this treated?

Treatment for high blood pressure during pregnancy can differ depending on the type of high blood pressure you have and how serious it is.
  • You may need to take blood pressure medicine.
  • If you have been taking medicine for your blood pressure, you may need to change the medicine during pregnancy if it is not safe for your baby.
  • If your doctor thinks that you could get very high blood pressure, he or she may tell you to take a low-dose aspirin during your pregnancy.
  • If you have very high blood pressure, you may need to stay in the hospital so you and your baby can be watched closely. You may also need to take medicine to lower your blood pressure. This medicine may be given by mouth or through an IV tube.
  • In some cases, if your condition gets worse, you may need to have your baby early.

Follow these instructions at home:

Eating and drinking

  • Drink enough fluid to keep your pee (urine) pale yellow.
  • Avoid caffeine.


  • Do not use any products that contain nicotine or tobacco, such as cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and chewing tobacco. If you need help quitting, ask your doctor.
  • Do not use alcohol or drugs.
  • Avoid stress.
  • Rest and get plenty of sleep.
  • Regular exercise can help. Ask your doctor what kinds of exercise are best for you.

General instructions

  • Take over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as told by your doctor.
  • Keep all prenatal and follow-up visits as told by your doctor. This is important.

Contact a doctor if:

  • You have symptoms that your doctor told you to watch for, such as:
    • Headaches.
    • Nausea.
    • Vomiting.
    • Belly (abdominal) pain.
    • Dizziness.
    • Light-headedness.

Get help right away if:

  • You have:
    • Very bad belly pain that does not get better with treatment.
    • A very bad headache that does not get better.
    • Vomiting that does not get better.
    • Sudden, fast weight gain.
    • Sudden swelling in your hands, ankles, or face.
    • Bleeding from your vagina.
    • Blood in your pee.
    • Blurry vision.
    • Double vision.
    • Shortness of breath.
    • Chest pain.
    • Weakness on one side of your body.
    • Trouble talking.
  • Your baby is not moving as much as usual.


  • High blood pressure is also called hypertension.
  • High blood pressure means that the force of your blood moving in your body is too strong.
  • High blood pressure can cause problems for you and your baby.
  • Keep all follow-up visits as told by your doctor. This is important.

This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your health care provider.