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High Blood Pressure in Pregnancy: Care Instructions


High blood pressure (hypertension) means that the force of blood against your artery walls is too strong.

High blood pressure problems during pregnancy include:

  • Chronic hypertension. This is high blood pressure that starts before pregnancy.
  • Gestational hypertension. This is high blood pressure that starts in the second or third trimester of pregnancy.
  • Preeclampsia. This is a problem that includes high blood pressure and signs of organ injury during pregnancy. In some cases, it leads to eclampsia. Eclampsia causes seizures.

If your blood pressure becomes too high during pregnancy (140/90 mm Hg or higher) you may have a higher chance of complications.

High blood pressure during pregnancy can affect the amount of oxygen and nutrients your baby receives. This can affect how your baby grows. High blood pressure can also cause other serious problems for both you and your baby. For example, the placenta might separate too early from the wall of the uterus (placental abruption). This can cause serious bleeding or premature birth.

To prevent problems, you and your baby will be watched very closely. You will have to check your blood pressure often during and after the pregnancy and at home after your baby is born.

If your blood pressure rises suddenly or is very high during pregnancy, your healthcare provider or midwife may prescribe medicines. They can usually control blood pressure. Your healthcare provider will also watch your baby more closely. This may include more ultrasounds to monitor your baby’s growth and health.

If your blood pressure affects your health or your baby's health, you may need to be monitored in the hospital. You may get medicines. Or your healthcare provider or midwife may need to deliver your baby early.

After your baby is born, your blood pressure will may improve. But sometimes blood pressure problems continue after birth. If you had high blood pressure during pregnancy, you have more risk of having high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and diabetes later in life. Work with your doctor or midwife to make heart-healthy lifestyle choices. These include eating healthy foods, being active, staying at a healthy weight, and not smoking. Get the checkups you need. Your doctor or midwife may also want you to check your blood pressure at home.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your healthcare provider or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Take and write down your blood pressure at home if your healthcare provider asks you to.
  • Watch for other signs of high blood pressure such as swelling in your hands, feet and face, headache, vision problems, and nausea and vomiting.
  • Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your healthcare provider, midwife, or nurse advice line if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.
  • If you’re in your third trimester, follow your healthcare provider’s instructions about how often to count your baby’s movements. For information on counting your baby’s movements, go to: Fetal Movement Count Chart (
  • Do not use tobacco or tobacco-like products, including cannabis, and other substances. They can harm your health. They can also affect your baby’s growth, and the development of their brain and lungs. If you need help to use less or quit, talk to your healthcare provider, or go to the Alberta Quits website.
  • Do not drink alcohol. Alcohol affects everyone differently and may be a risk to your health. Alcohol passes through the placenta to your baby and can cause problems with your baby’s growth, health, and development.
  • Eat a well-balanced healthy diet that has lots of fruits and vegetables.
  • Stay at a healthy weight during your pregnancy. Talk to your healthcare provider about how much weight gain is healthy for you.
  • If your healthcare provider says it’s okay, get regular exercise. Walking or swimming several times a week can be healthy for you and your baby.
  • Learn ways to cope with stress. This can help you and support a healthy environment for your developing baby. Mental Health During Pregnancy - Healthy Parents Healthy Children.
  • Take time every day to relax, rest, and get enough sleep—nap if you need to. Mental Health During Pregnancy - Healthy Parents Healthy Children.
  • Pregnancy can be an emotional and unpredictable time. When you have complications in your pregnancy you may have more stress. This can lead to other concerns for you and your family. Talk to your healthcare provider about how you’re feeling and any concerns you have.

When should you call for help?

Share this information with your partner or a friend. They can help you watch for warning signs.

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have a seizure.
  • You have trouble breathing.
  • You have chest pain.

Seek urgent, immediate medical care at the hospital if:

  • Your blood pressure is very high, such as 160/110 or higher.
  • You have symptoms of pre-eclampsia, such as:
    • Sudden swelling of your face, hands, or feet.
    • New vision problems (such as light sensitivity, blurring, or seeing spots).
    • A severe headache.
    • New right upper belly pain.
    • New severe nausea and vomiting.
  • You are in your third trimester and do not feel your baby move at least 6 movements in 2 hours.

Call your healthcare provider, midwife, or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your blood pressure is higher than your healthcare provider told you it should be, or it rises quickly.
  • You have new nausea or vomiting.
  • You think that you are in labour or are having contractions of your uterus with or without pain (6 or more in 1 hour).
  • You have pain in your belly or pelvis.
  • You have a sudden weight gain.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your healthcare provider, midwife, or nurse call line if you have any concerns.

Where can you learn more?

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