Gestational Hypertension

Gestational hypertension is high
blood pressure in pregnancy. It occurs in about 3 in 50 pregnancies. 

This condition is different from
chronic hypertension. Chronic hypertension happens when a woman has high blood pressure
before she gets pregnant. It’s also different from preeclampsia and eclampsia. These
other blood pressure problems in pregnancy.  

Gestational hypertension often
starts in the second half of pregnancy. It normally goes away after your baby is

Healthcare providers don’t know
what causes this condition. The following things may increase your risk:

  • Having high blood pressure before
    pregnancy or with a past pregnancy
  • Having kidney disease
  • Having diabetes
  • Being younger than 20 years of age or
    older than 40 years of age
  • Being pregnant with multiples, such as
    twins or triplets
  • Being African American

Symptoms can occur a bit
differently in each pregnancy.

The main symptom is high blood
pressure in the second half of pregnancy. But some women don’t have any symptoms.

High blood pressure in pregnancy
can lead to other serious issues. These can include preeclampsia. You should watch
signs of high blood pressure. They can include:

  • Headache that doesn’t go away
  • Edema (swelling)
  • Sudden weight gain
  • Vision changes, such as blurred or
    double vision
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Pain in the upper right side of your
    belly, or pain around your stomach
  • Making small amounts of urine

If your blood pressure increases,
your healthcare provider may diagnose you with this condition. You may also have the
following tests to check for this issue:

  • Blood pressure readings
  • Urine testing to check for protein,
    which is a sign that your kidneys aren’t working well
  • Checking for swelling
  • Checking your weight more often
  • Liver and kidney function tests
  • Blood clotting tests

Blood pressure monitoring

Your healthcare provider may
check your blood pressure more often. You should also tell your healthcare provider
if you have any new symptoms.

Fetal monitoring

Your healthcare provider may do
tests to check the health of your baby. These tests may include:

  • Fetal movement counting. You’ll
    keep track of your baby’s kicks and movements. A change in the number of kicks or
    how often your baby kicks may mean your baby is under stress.
  • Nonstress testing. This test
    measures your baby’s heart rate in response to its movements.
  • Biophysical profile. This test
    combines a nonstress test with an ultrasound to watch your baby.
  • Doppler flow studies. This test is
    a type of ultrasound that uses sound waves to measure the flow of your baby’s
    blood through a blood vessel.

Lab testing

Your healthcare provider may
test your urine and blood at every prenatal checkup. This testing will tell if your
condition is getting worse.


Your healthcare provider may
give you corticosteroids. These medicines can help your baby’s lungs mature. You’ll
get these medicines if it looks like your baby is going to be born early.

High blood pressure can affect your
blood vessels. It may decrease blood flow in your liver, kidneys, brain, uterus, and

This condition can get worse. It
can lead to preeclampsia and eclampsia. These are serious blood pressure problems. These
issues can cause the following problems:

  • Placental abruption, when the placenta
    pulls away from the uterus too early
  • Poor fetal growth (intrauterine growth
  • Stillbirth
  • Seizures (eclampsia)
  • Death of the mother and baby

Because of these risks, your
healthcare provider may decide that you need to have your baby early. This may happen
before 37 weeks of pregnancy.

Even if your blood pressure goes
back to normal after childbirth, you have a higher chance of having high blood pressure
in the future.

Having this issue diagnosed and treated early may help reduce your
risk for complications. That’s why it’s important to go to your prenatal checkups.
so may keep your condition from getting worse.

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have signs of high
blood pressure. Symptoms can include a headache that doesn’t go away, blurred or double
vision, swelling, or making less urine than normal.  

  • Gestational hypertension is a form of
    high blood pressure in pregnancy. It occurs in about 3 in 50 pregnancies.
  • This condition can affect the health
    of both the mother and the baby, depending on how severe the issue is.
  • Call your healthcare provider right
    away if you have signs of high blood pressure. Symptoms can include a headache that
    doesn’t go away, blurred or double vision, swelling, or making less urine than
  • The goal of treatment is to prevent
    the condition from getting worse and causing other problems.

Tips to help you get the most from
a visit to your healthcare provider:

  • Know the reason for your visit and
    what you want to happen.
  • Before your visit, write down
    questions you want answered.
  • Bring someone with you to help you ask
    questions and remember what your provider tells you.
  • At the visit, write down the name of a
    new diagnosis and any new medicines, treatments, or tests. Also write down any new
    instructions your provider gives you.
  • Know why a new medicine or treatment
    is prescribed and how it will help you. Also know what the side effects are.
  • Ask if your condition can be treated
    in other ways.
  • Know why a test or procedure is
    recommended and what the results could mean.
  • Know what to expect if you do not take
    the medicine or have the test or procedure.
  • If you have a follow-up appointment,
    write down the date, time, and purpose for that visit.
  • Know how you can contact your provider
    if you have questions.