I’m only 24 weeks pregnant, expecting twins and already I’ve got high blood pressure. Is there anything I can do?
Whether you have just started getting high blood pressure in pregnancy or if you have had high blood pressure before becoming pregnant and are on medication, the condition is more likely to start or worsen in a twin pregnancy. The rates of high blood pressure in pregnancy (PIH) and pre-eclampsia are increased in multiple pregnancies.
Pregnancy-induced hypertension comes on when a woman is pregnant and resolves completely after delivery. In PIH, the only abnormality is the raised blood pressure, and there is little risk to the baby. Rarely, babies may have to be delivered early for mothers with unusually severe PIH.
Pre-eclampsia is a condition which only happens in pregnancy or straight after your baby has been born. It can affect both mother and her unborn baby. The exact cause is unknown, although it is thought to be a problem with the placenta. Two signs that you may have pre-eclampsia are a high blood pressure and protein in your urine. This is why your midwife will always check your blood pressure and ask you to give her some of your urine to check at every antenatal appointment1.
Unfortunately, there seems little can be done to prevent PIH or pre-eclamsia. There is research into taking vitamin and/ or aspirin supplementation, but there have been no conclusive results. Reducing salt intake, avoiding alcohol and tobacco and gentle, regular exercise are thought to help. Ensuring you keep regular antenatal appointments, contacting your midwife / doctor if you have headaches, flashing lights, and reduced movements from your baby are extremely important. And rest is advisable.
1Henderson C, MacDonald S (2004) Mayes’ Midwifery (13th Edn) Bailliere Tindall