Few questions exist as to the effects that pregnancy has on a woman’s body. As her hormones fluctuate, a woman may feel fit and energized one day, but fatigue and nauseous the next. However, one of the greatest impacts that expecting a baby can have on a woman’ body involves the fluctuation of her blood pressure. Low blood pressure, while common in most pregnancies, can have alarming results and necessitate a woman needing more specialized medical help and hospitalization if necessary.
Understandably, low blood pressure involves a reading that is less than 120 over 80, a normal blood pressure reading. When a woman goes into her obstetrician’s office or to her midwife once a month during her pregnancy for a check-up, the nurse typically takes the expectant mom’s blood pressure reading. If the numbers are only slightly to moderately below average, the doctor may not recommend any further treatment, but rather advise the woman to be careful walking, going up and down steps, and carrying out her normal routine. However, when the reading is significantly low and the patient describes feeling lightheaded, dizzy, or weak, her doctor may recommend bed rest or admit her to the hospital until her blood pressure levels improve.
In most cases, the lowest blood pressure readings are found during the mid-point of a pregnancy when blood vessels in a woman’s body have expanded to their widest range and the hormonal changes reach their pinnacle. As stated, when a woman enters her second trimester, her doctor may fully expect to find lower than usual blood pressure readings during an exam. It is when the patient complains of more severe symptoms, such as dizziness, falling down, severe nausea, difficulty going to the bathroom, and extreme fatigue that her doctor may admit her to the hospital for further care. If a patient has a good support system at home, however, and can benefit by resting in bed, she may be allowed to go home with orders to limit her daily activities. Her bed rest and confinement may last until her next doctor’s appointment when her blood pressure will be checked again.
Medical evidence points out that when a woman is pregnant, her blood vessels expand and her circulatory system begins working harder to provide blood flow to both the woman and her unborn child. This increased activity causes a woman’s blood pressure to fall and may contribute to some women feeling lightheaded or more tired than usual. After a woman delivers, her circulatory system will return to its normal function, and she will no longer suffer from the side effects that come from low blood pressure during pregnancy.
In fact, doctors typically expect most of their expectant patients to have slightly lower blood pressure once they reach the second trimester of their pregnancies. The lower readings often continue until they deliver their babies and rarely continue postpartum. Low blood pressure during pregnancy is rarely cause for alarm simply because a healthy woman’s body is capable of adapting and sustaining the pregnancy until it reaches full term.
However, in rare cases, women who have low blood pressure may need additional medical help to make it through the end of their pregnancies. Many doctors keep a close eye on these patients because the risk of miscarriage and pregnancy-related complications increase. Some women with severe low blood pressure readings may be required to check in with their doctors on a weekly basis so that they and their unborn children can be monitored closely. This additional scrutiny often will last until a woman’s blood pressure reading improves and maintains a healthy level for several weeks at a time. In the severest cases, however, a woman may have to be hospitalized until she improves or until she delivers. It would be too risky for her to go home and rest in her own bed because of the risk of her falling, fainting, or become so ill that she miscarries and suffers life-threatening complications herself.
Avoiding complications during a pregnancy marked by low blood pressure can be a challenge for many doctors to meet. They often cannot prescribe the diuretic medications that they would to other patients because of the impact these medications would have on an unborn baby. Likewise, they cannot advise expectant mothers to increase their salt intake because of the risk that the additional salt and sodium would have on their pregnancies. As such, many doctors must treat pregnant women with low blood pressure symptomatically. This approach, along with using holistic methods that pose no risk to a woman or her unborn child, often prove to be the best method of sustaining a patient until she delivers.
For example, if a woman’s low blood pressure is caused by dehydration, a doctor can prescribe bed rest and clear fluids for the woman until her readings improve. Likewise, a woman who is dizzy whenever she gets out of bed or rises from a sitting position may be told to slow her movements and to have someone help her whenever she gets out of bed or stands up during the day. Some expectant mothers benefit by wearing compression stockings that help improve blood flow throughout their bodies.
These simple approaches, however, often prove useless for women who have heart or circulatory issues that must be dealt with on a more sophisticated level. In these circumstances, an obstetrician will work closely with a woman’s pulmonologist and cardiologist to come up with the best strategy with which to treat her and her unborn child. The heart and lung doctors typically focus on keeping the mother alive and well while the obstetrician focuses on sustaining the unborn child. This combined approach to treating a woman with a heart or circulatory medical issue often proves to be the most effective way to treat her low blood pressure and also ensure that she can make it to the end of her pregnancy without any complications