What Causes High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy?

A woman’s body goes through many changes during pregnancy, including changes in weight, the digestive tract, and metabolic rate. While these changes are necessary for the survival of the baby, not all of them are positive. They can result in health-related challenges. One of the challenges that pregnant women often experience is high blood pressure during pregnancy.

Causes Of high Blood Pressure During Pregnancy

What is high blood pressure?

Also known as hypertension, this is a condition where the long-term force of the blood against the artery walls is too high. If the condition persists, it can cause severe health problems like heart disease.

During pregnancy, women can experience hypertension in three ways. They are:

Chronic hypertension

This is where the woman had preexisting hypertension before pregnancy. Some doctors refer to chronic hypertension as one that occurs in the first twenty weeks of pregnancy.

Gestational hypertension

This is a type of hypertension that develops after the first twenty weeks of pregnancy. More often than not, this condition resolves after delivery. However, it can progress into severe medical conditions if it is diagnosed before the thirty weeks.

Chronic hypertension with overlaid preeclampsia

This happens to women who have chronic hypertension before getting pregnant. It is characterized by the experience of protein in the urine. It can also cause additional complications as the pregnancy progresses.

Causes of high blood pressure during pregnancy

Below are some common causes of hypertension in pregnant women;

Obesity or being overweight

Women tend to gain a lot of weight during pregnancy. However, when the weight gain is excessive, it can cause hypertension. This is because the more you weigh, the more the blood quantity needed to supply oxygen and nutrients to your tissues. This increases the amount of blood flowing through your blood vessels. When this happens, the pressure on your artery walls also increases, resulting in hypertension.

Not being physically active

One of the symptoms of pregnancy is a lack of energy. Pregnant women often have a hard time being physically active because of the lack of energy and weight gain. The lack of physical activity triggers an increase in heart rate. As the heart rate increases, the heart has to work harder with each beat. The increased heart rate also increases the force on your arteries, hence hypertension. Additionally, lack of physical activity tends to promote weight gain, which could result in obesity. As explained earlier, obesity is a common cause of hypertension during pregnancy.

First-time pregnancy

Women experiencing their first pregnancy are often at a higher risk of developing hypertension than the latter. During pregnancy, your heart, blood vessels, and blood volume tend to change. This happens because the body has to nourish both the mother and baby. As the amount of blood in your body increases significantly during pregnancy, your heart muscle has more work to do. Sometimes, the muscles get exhausted and cannot accommodate these changes. This results in changes in blood pressure. This often happens during first-time pregnancies because all these changes are new to the body. Therefore, the body may take a long time trying to adjust and resume normal functioning. Note that there are lower chances of this condition occurring in subsequent pregnancies.

Carrying multiple babies

Carrying multiple babies can also trigger hypertension among most women. This is because the body has to work harder to nourish more than one child.


High blood pressure in pregnancy is a severe problem that can affect the health of the mother and child. Therefore, the issue needs to be managed as the pregnancy progresses. Tracking your blood pressure during your pregnancy can also help you get medical assistance before the situation becomes severe. The normal blood pressure for a pregnant woman should be 120/80 mm Hg or lower. Anything higher than this should be cause for alarm. You may want to visit a medical professional for assistance.

Find more pregnancy tips in our archives.

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