Low blood pressure during pregnancy
Many women experience low blood pressure, defined as below 90/60, while they’re expecting a baby. This is not usually a problem, doesn’t normally require medication, and will start returning to its previous level during the third trimester. Your doctor will monitor your blood pressure throughout the pregnancy.
Low blood pressure during pregnancy happens because your body secretes hormones, and progesterone in particular, which help to relax the walls of your blood vessels and increase the flow of blood to you and your baby.
Occasionally, low blood pressure may be indicative of some other problem. It may be the result of an ectopic pregnancy, in which a fertilised egg becomes implanted outside your uterus. And if it’s very low, it may cause falls, or shock, in which your brain and other vital organs don’t get enough blood to work properly.
Low blood pressure has a variety of symptoms. If you experience any of these, you should mention them to your doctor.
- Fatigue and sleepiness
- Rapid heartbeat
- Confusion and inability to concentrate
- Blurry vision
- Pale, clammy skin
Can low blood pressure harm your baby?
We know a lot less about the effects of low blood pressure on babies than the effects of high pressure. Some research suggests that it may lead to stillbirth and low birth weight, but this correlation is difficult to establish because there are so many other variables and risk factors involved during pregnancy. In the vast majority of cases, low blood pressure at this time is nothing to worry about.
Is there anything you can do to deal with low blood pressure when you’re pregnant?
Although medication is not normally needed when this happens, there are some simple changes you can make that may reduce the likelihood of its happening.
Take it easy. Try to slow down, avoid making sudden movements, and don’t stand up too quickly. If you do feel faint or dizzy, lie down on your left side, which may help to increase the blood flow to your heart.
Drink lots of water. As well as preventing dehydration, this increases your blood volume, and thus your blood pressure.
Eat a healthy diet. Your doctor may also recommend that you increase your salt intake, though it’s important not to overdo this.