It can be common to see a hike in blood pressure after a woman delivers a baby. It can raise the risk for having chronic disease later in life. There are many different factors that can affect your postpartum blood pressure. To make sure you and your infant remain healthy, speak with your doctor if your blood pressure is elevated after delivery.
What Can High Blood Pressure After Delivery Mean?
Within the first six hours of delivery, it is suggested to have your blood pressure measured. One of the most common reasons why people will experience postpartum hypertension is having high blood pressure while pregnant. If you had normal blood pressure before you conceived, it is likely to return to normal shortly after delivery. You should also note that you have a greater chance of developing high blood pressure in future pregnancies and late life as well.
If you don’t see it return to normal, there is a greater chance that you did not have gestational hypertension but instead have chronic hypertension. This indicates you will continue to have high blood pressure after the baby is delivered. If this is the case, you will be advised to make an appointment with your doctor regarding your hypertension and proper medication. It is recommended to happen earlier than your 6-week postpartum checkup. Even if you are breastfeeding, there are many medications that are safe for you and your baby.
Or You May Have Postpartum Preeclampsia
There is a great chance if your diastolic or bottom number is higher than 90 that you have preeclampsia. It is best to take your blood pressure again within four hours if there aren’t other symptoms. If you develop other symptoms such as nausea, blurred vision or headache, you should contact your maternity care immediately.
What Are the Symptoms of Postpartum Preeclampsia?
When a woman has excess protein in her urine and high blood pressure after delivery, she may have developed the rare condition known as postpartum preeclampsia. In most cases, this will be seen within 48 hours of childbirth. There are cases when this can develop as late as six weeks after birth. This is called late postpartum preeclampsia. This is a serious condition that if left untreated, can cause serious complications such as seizures and more.
It may be hard to detect postpartum preeclampsia on your own, while focusing on healing and taking care of your newborn. Some symptoms of postpartum preeclampsia include:
- Hypertension or high blood pressure of 140/90 or more
- Urine with excess protein
- Vision changes to include blurring, loss of and light sensitivity
- Swelling in the limbs or face
- Less urination
- Vomiting and nausea
- Pain in upper abdomen, generally right side under the rib
- Weight changes of two or more pounds, up or down, in a week
How Is Postpartum Preeclampsia Diagnosed and Treated?
When high blood pressure after delivery is preeclampsia, you may have to be hospitalized. After birth, the illness can generally be diagnosed with lab work, such as urinalysis or blood draws. Your blood is used to determine your platelet level; checking your kidney, liver and your urine will tell if there is protein in it as well.
The largest concern is generally seizures and you may be treated with magnesium sulfate to stop convulsions. This is usually administered for 24 hours and after which, your doctor will do another urinalysis and check your blood pressure. If your blood pressure is too high, antihypertensive medication will be prescribed.
Unfortunately, there are no known methods of preventing preeclampsia. It is important to pay attention to how you feel after delivery and to not dismiss a bad headache. This additional stress can cause further problems so it’s important to lean on loved ones for help. Talk to your doctor to determine how to best handle your high blood pressure after delivery and care for a newborn.