Can High Blood Pressure Lead to Premature Birth?

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a condition in which the force of the blood against the walls of the blood vessels is too high. It can be a serious health issue for pregnant women, as it can lead to premature birth and other complications. If left untreated, high blood pressure can cause serious health risks for both the mother and her baby. The mother's high blood pressure can make it difficult for the baby to get enough oxygen and nutrients to grow, so the mother may have to give birth prematurely.

Your blood pressure may increase 24 to 48 hours before your baby is born. The doctor will check that the increase is not due to preeclampsia. If the pregnancy care provider believes it is safer to give birth early, he or she may recommend inducing labor. Most people who have high blood pressure will give birth to healthy babies when the condition is detected early in pregnancy.

Other complications caused by high blood pressure during pregnancy include


, a serious blood pressure disorder that can affect all of the mother's organs and cause premature birth and increased health risks for the mother in the future;

placental abruption

, a medical emergency when the placenta detaches prematurely from the uterus; and the need for a cesarean delivery. If you develop high blood pressure before your baby reaches term, you're more likely to start labor early and your baby will be born underweight. If your pressure continues to rise too high, your doctor may recommend inducing labor or giving birth by C-section as soon as your baby is ready. Preeclampsia is a severe form of high blood pressure that also occurs in the second half of pregnancy.

Your healthcare provider will monitor you and your fetus more closely and help you control your blood pressure for the rest of your pregnancy. That's why it's important for women to understand their risk of developing high blood pressure before they become pregnant and to learn how to control it. One of the complications that a pregnant woman with high blood pressure can experience is premature birth, that is, delivery before the 37th week of pregnancy, rather than after the 40th week. This may involve more frequent prenatal visits to check blood pressure and testing urine for signs of preeclampsia.

Your pregnancy care provider will want to closely monitor your blood pressure and check for symptoms of hypertension. In the weeks leading up to delivery, the baby descends into the pelvis as it prepares for the delivery process.Understanding the risk of developing high blood pressure and knowing the warning signs can prevent serious complications of the disease. Both you and your child are at greater risk of developing complications before delivery, during delivery, and after delivery if you have high blood pressure.

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