Low blood pressure causes less concern than high blood pressure—but it’s still important to monitor.
When blood pressure gets too low for pregnant people, it can cause falls, fainting, and fatigue. On the extreme end, it can lead to shock, organ damage, and death.
In this guide, you’ll learn what you can do if your blood pressure is low when you’re pregnant.
What is Low Blood Pressure for Pregnant Women?
Blood pressure is the amount of force that blood uses to travel through your veins. When there’s an appropriate amount of force, blood flows freely throughout the circulatory system and is able to effectively deliver oxygen and nutrients to your organs and tissues.
If blood travels with too much force, it means you have high blood pressure (hypertension). Similarly, a lack of force means you have low blood pressure (hypotension). Although most people know that high blood pressure can cause problems, low blood pressure for pregnant women can also be problematic.
When taking your blood pressure, consider these pregnant blood pressure ranges:
- Low blood pressure:<90 mmHg and <60 mmHg
- Normal blood pressure. 90-120 mmHg and/or 60-80 mmHg
- High blood pressure/hypertension Stage 1: 140-159 mmHg and/or 90-99 mmHg
The first thing to know is that your blood pressure fluctuates and that’s normal. Since your body goes through many changes during pregnancy, you may experience abnormal readings for the first time.
For example, one low blood pressure reading may not indicate a problem. In fact, it’s common for blood pressure to drop in the first 24 weeks of pregnancy. As your circulatory system quickly expands, your blood pressure may be lower throughout your pregnancy and return to normal after delivery.
However, if you’re noticing symptoms and have consistently low blood pressure and you’re pregnant, talk to your doctor.
A low blood pressure reading means that your blood is having difficulty reaching everywhere it should. Areas like your heart and brain may not be getting enough blood. This may sound scary, but often isn’t a cause for concern. Some doctors don’t consider low blood pressure to be a problem unless it causes symptoms.
Low blood pressure that’s too low, drops suddenly or causes symptoms can be dangerous and even life-threatening.
Signs of Low Blood Pressure for Pregnant People
If you think your blood pressure is low and you’re pregnant, you might wonder about the typical signs. The best way to know your blood pressure is to get a home blood pressure monitor. However, there are a few common signs.
To learn more, read 10 Signs of Low Blood Pressure During Pregnancy
Complications of Low Blood Pressure for Pregnant Women
In general, low blood pressure for pregnant women isn’t as dangerous as high blood pressure. Your doctor may even tell you that it’s normal. In cases where blood pressure is too low and causes symptoms, the consequences can be moderate to life-threatening.
- Adding to your “pregnancy brain,” low blood pressure can lead to temporary cognitive problems.
- Since fatigue is a side effect of pregnancy, it can be difficult to tell whether it’s caused by blood pressure or something else.
- Falls and Fainting. Dizziness and lightheadedness may be harmless symptoms of low blood pressure that people overlook. During pregnancy though, dizziness combined with other pregnancy side effects can make you more suspectable to falls—especially if you’re still getting used to the weight of your belly. If it’s a hard fall or if you land the wrong way, it may affect your fetus. Aside from that, fainting can also result in serious injuries if you hit your head.
- Nausea and Dehydration. Low blood pressure can make some people feel nauseous. If you’re already battling morning sickness, too much vomiting can lead to dehydration.
- Shock. On the severe end, very low blood pressure means your vital organs can’t get enough oxygen and nutrients. This can lead to shock. Shockis characterized by cold, sweaty skin, rapid breathing, and blue or pale skin tone. This causes organ damage or death. Shock requires immediate medical attention and you should call 911 if you notice signs.
- Organ Malfunction. As a part of shock, all organs begin to malfunction when blood pressure gets too low and remains low. This can cause ischemic stroke, heart attack, kidney failure, etc.
- May Signal Ectopic Pregnancy. Low blood pressure may be caused by ectopic pregnancy (when the egg attaches outside your uterus). Since this would mean the pregnancy is unviable, it’s important to have it ruled out by your doctor if you’re having low blood pressure problems.
- May (Or May Not) Affect Baby. Research is unclear on how low blood pressure may affect a fetus. Some research suggests low blood pressure may be connected to stillbirth and low birth weight. However, other research suggests that blood pressure does not cause these negative outcomes. Instead, other factors in the study may be to blame.
What To Do: Low Blood Pressure with Pregnancy
If your doctor has confirmed several low blood pressure readings and you’re experiencing symptoms, they’ll outline a treatment plan specific to your condition.
Below are a few tips on what you can do to improve low blood pressure with pregnancy.
Talk To Your Doctor
If you’ve detected low blood pressure with a home monitor, it’s important to talk to your doctor. They can confirm your results and ask you about the symptoms you’re experiencing. From there, your doctor can determine the cause of your low blood pressure, which will help them recommend treatments. In general, there’s usually no medical treatments needed for low blood pressure with pregnancy. Lifestyle changes are usually enough to manage symptoms.
Another reason you need to see your doctor is to rule out or treat serious causes. For example, low blood pressure may be caused by ectopic pregnancy. Since there’s no way to “save” the pregnancy, it requires treatment to avoid life-threatening and severe bleeding.
Sit Down Often
One easy tip for low blood pressure for pregnant people is to sit down. If you notice yourself feeling light-headed, nauseous, or getting a headache or back pain, relax for a bit. Sitting still may help relieve those symptoms. You should also avoid standing for long periods of time.
Another tip to avoid lightheadedness and dizziness is to rise slowly. Those suffering from low blood pressure with pregnancy should slowly stand up instead of jolting out of position. If you’re laying down, slowly move into a sitting position before slowly standing.
Drink More Water
Getting plenty of fluids helps increase your blood volume, making it easier for blood to flow through your body. If low blood pressure is causing nausea, vomiting from morning sickness can get worse, causing dehydration. In turn, dehydration can further decrease your blood pressure. To stop this cycle, make sure to stay hydrated, especially if you’re vomiting, sick, or sweating through exercise.
Slightly Increase Salt Intake
Your doctor may recommend adding more sodium to your diet. Be careful though: Too much salt can quickly lead to high blood pressure. A little salt can go a long way. If you need more in your diet, try snacking on crackers or simply sprinkling more salt over your meals.
Eat Smaller Meals
If you feel dizzy or lightheaded after eating, try having smaller meals. Big meals can be a lot to digest—making blood flow to your digestive tract increase but decrease everywhere else. This can be avoided by putting less strain on your digestive system with smaller meals.
Try wearing compression stockings that cover your calf and thigh. This can push blood out of your veins and back to your heart, improving circulation. You can buy compression socks at the drugstore and start with the lowest level. You can also talk to your doctor about the recommended level or for a prescription for higher strength compression stockings.
If low blood pressure is causing you to feel dizzy and lightheaded, it’s a good idea to avoid heights when you can. Falls from heights can cause more damage to a fetus if you land the wrong way. For example, if you need to use a ladder, ask another family member to do for you.
Medical treatments for low blood pressure for pregnant people aren’t typically recommended. The two most common medications prescribed for low blood pressure (fludrocortisone and midodrine) are not recommended during pregnancy. Both may cause adverse reactions to a fetus. If you’re taking these medications and become pregnant, talk to your doctor ASAP.
In rare but serious cases like shock, you may need to receive fluids through an IV in the hospital. This helps increase blood volume.
Home Blood Pressure Monitoring
Whether or not you have blood pressure problems, it’s a good idea to have a blood pressure monitor at home. Since it can fluctuate, you can do readings at home in between prenatal appointments. This can alert you of high and low blood pressure before it causes complications.
If you have low blood pressure, tracking it ensures it’s not getting too low to the point of causing serious complications.
Summary: Blood Pressure Low and Pregnant Women
If you think your blood pressure is low and you’re pregnant, talk to your doctor. They will help you determine the cause and potential remedies. Most often, medical treatments for low blood pressure during pregnancy aren’t required. Instead, lifestyle changes can help you elevate your blood volume and control symptoms. Use your at-home blood pressure monitor between check-ups to ensure your readings don’t get too low.
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