There are three types of high blood pressure in pregnant women:
Chronic hypertension: High blood pressure that develops before the 20th week of pregnancy or is present before the woman becomes pregnant. Sometimes a woman has high blood pressure for a long time before she gets pregnant, but she doesn’t know it until her first prenatal check-up.
Gestational hypertension: Some women just get high blood pressure near the end of pregnancy. They don’t have any other associated symptoms.
Pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH), also called toxemia or preeclampsia: This condition can cause serious problems for both the mother and the baby if left untreated. PIH develops after the 20th weeks of pregnancy. Along with high blood pressure, it causes protein in the urine, blood changes and other problems.
PIH can prevent the placenta (which gives oxygen and food to your baby) from getting enough blood. If the placenta doesn’t get enough blood, your baby gets less oxygen and food. This can cause low birth weight and other problems for the baby.
Most women who have PIH still deliver healthy babies. A few develop a condition called eclampsia (PIH with seizures), which is very serious for the mother and baby, or other serious problems. Fortunately, PIH is usually detected early in women who get regular prenatal care, and most problems can be prevented.
If you have any of the following symptoms of PIH, call your doctor right away:
Excessive swelling of the feet and hands
Smaller amounts of urine or no urine
Blood in your urine
Ringing or buzzing sound in ears
Pain in the abdomen (tummy)