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Many pregnant women with high blood pressure have healthy babies. However, high blood pressure can be dangerous for both the mother and the baby. High blood pressure can harm the mother's kidneys and other organs, and it can cause low birth weight and early delivery.
If you are thinking about having a baby and you have high blood pressure, talk first to your doctor or nurse. You can take steps to control your blood pressure before and during pregnancy. Regular prenatal care (health care during pregnancy) is very important for your and your baby's health.
Before becoming pregnant:
- Be sure your blood pressure is under control. Making changes—such as limiting the salt and sodium in your diet, exercising regularly, and losing weight if you are overweight—can be helpful.
- Discuss with your doctor how high blood pressure might affect you and your baby during pregnancy, and what you can do to prevent or lessen problems.
- If you take medicines for your blood pressure, ask your doctor what you should do about taking them during pregnancy. Women who take angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors should talk to their doctor before they become pregnant.
While you are pregnant:
- Be sure to get regular prenatal health care. Don't miss any appointments.
- Don't drink alcohol or smoke.
- Talk to your doctor about any over-the-counter or prescribed medicines you are taking or are thinking about taking.
Some women develop high blood pressure for the first time in the middle of their pregnancy. In the most serious cases, the mother develops a condition called preeclampsia (pre-e-KLAMP-se-a) or "toxemia of pregnancy." This condition can threaten the lives of both the mother and the unborn child. More information about high blood pressure and pregnancy is available at the NHLBI Web site Your Guide to Lowering Your High Blood Pressure.
Even though high blood pressure during pregnancy can be serious, most women with high blood pressure and those who develop preeclampsia have successful pregnancies. Getting early and regular prenatal care is the most important thing you can do for you and your baby.