top of page

Managing Blood Pressure

High blood pressure, also known by the medical term “hypertension”, is very common. Some birthing people can develop high blood pressure during pregnancy, which can cause problems during and after delivery. The good news is that these problems can be prevented because high blood pressure can be managed and treated.

Explore this page to learn more about why
and how to monitor and manage blood
pressure. 

FBGraphic_ProviderPatient.png

Blood Pressure and Pregnancy

Basics

Blood pressure is the measure of force that your heart uses to pump blood around your body. In other words, it is how hard your heart has to work to make sure that all the parts of your body get the blood they need to function. The higher your blood pressure, the more risk you have for other health problems, including heart disease and stroke. In pregnancy, high blood pressure can be very dangerous to you and your baby.

Types of High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy

Chronic

High blood pressure present before pregnancy or occurring early in pregnancy

      

Gestational

High blood pressure during pregnancy (usually after 20 weeks) without signs of organ damage

Preeclampsia

High blood pressure during pregnancy (usually after 20 weeks) with signs of organ damage

Eclampsia

Severe complication of preeclampsia resulting in seizures (1 in every 200 women with preeclampsia)

High blood pressure before, during, and after pregnancy, also known as maternal hypertension, can be caused by a number of things, many of which are not in our control. The important thing here is that it is not your fault, and nobody can blame or judge you for it.

 

It is also important to pay attention to blood pressure and to get help treating it before it becomes serious. If untreated, high blood pressure during pregnancy can lead to:

Vision Mission Venn Diagram (1).png
Management

Tips for Managing High Blood Pressure

  • Why should my baby sleep alone? I feel safer with my baby near me.
    We know that when parents sleep in the same bed as their baby, they are trying to do what they think is best. Unfortunately, co-sleeping is really dangerous. Most sleep-related deaths in Baltimore happen when babies sleep with an adult or with other children. Remember, it doesn't take much for a baby to suffocate. Co-sleeping is a common practice in some cultures. While it is wonderful to preserve most cultural traditions, some need to be adapted. For example, American beds are soft, high, and have a lot of blankets and pillows. These features make them unsafe for babies. If you are worried about bonding, keeping your baby's crib in your room is a great idea! Share a room, not a bed.
  • My baby sleeps better when they’re next to me. What are some other ways to soothe them?
    The sleep habits you set now will carry into childhood. When you put your baby to sleep in a crib from the beginning, they will get used to it. You will also be able to sleep better and more soundly knowing your baby is safe. Here are some of the things that you can do to help your baby sleep peacefully in their crib: Swaddle your baby (NOTE: you should stop swaddling when your baby starts to roll over) Create a bedtime routineUse a pacifier Give your baby a massage The first few weeks with a baby are rewarding, but the lack of sleep can be challenging. Hang in there. It will get better.
  • But isn't my baby more likely to choke on their back?
    Many parents believe that babies are more likely to choke if they sleep on their back. This is not true. In fact, your baby is LESS likely to choke on his or her back. Watch the video clip understand why.
  • What if my baby can roll over?
    Once babies are able to roll over from back to stomach on their own, there is no need to watch or reposition them during sleep. Babies should still be placed on their backs for sleep, but you don't need to worry about keeping them that way. Do not use a pillow or rolled up blanket to keep your baby on his or her back. These items increase the chances of your baby suffocating.
  • My older relatives say that they put their babies to sleep on their stomach.
    You may hear from older relatives that they put their babies to sleep on their stomachs. A lot has changed in the last 20 years and we now know a lot more about infant safety. In fact, when pediatricians began recommending that babies sleep on their back, the number of babies dying in their sleep dropped dramatically.
  • Why do I need to get a crib for my baby to sleep?
    The crib is the ONLY safe place for your baby to sleep. Your baby shouldn’t sleep on an adult bed or couch or with pillows, cushions or stuffed animals. Your baby could be suffocated in these soft materials. Your baby also could become trapped in between cushions on a couch or get stuck between the bed and the wall. These tragic situations occur all too frequently in Baltimore City.
  • Won't my baby get cold without a sheet or blanket?
    Dress your baby in a sleeper for warmth, but do not use blankets or allow your baby to get too warm. Overheating can be a risk for SIDS. A good rule of thumb is to dress your baby in the same amount of layers that you are wearing. If the room temperature is comfortable for you, then it is also comfortable for your baby.
  • Is it safe for my baby to wear a sleep sack?
    Sleep sacks and wearable blankets can be part of a safe sleep routine. Because these are an extra layer, be mindful of overheating, a leading cause of SIDS. You can avoid overheating by following this rule: when inside, dress your baby in the same number of layers that you are wearing. If a room's temperature is comfortable for you, it's comfortable for your baby. Please also remember that not every product that is marketed for safe sleep is actually safe, even if it is sold in stores or online. For example, weighted sleepwear is not safe. Before you purchase these products, it is important to do your research and to ask your baby's doctor. To check if a product has ever been recalled, visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Recall List.
  • What kind of crib should I get for my baby?
    Your baby’s crib does not need to be fancy or expensive, but it must be safe. There are many types of stationary and portable cribs (such as a Pack ‘n Play™ or the portable crib given out by HealthCare Access Maryland) that are safe—you just have to make sure that it meets current safety guidelines. When purchasing a crib, look for Juvenile Product Manufacturers Association (JPMA) certification. If you borrow a crib, check to make sure that the slats are no more than 2-3/8 inches apart. Widely spaced slats can trap an infant's head. The mattress should be firm and fit snugly in the crib. The crib sheet should fit tightly all the way around and under the mattress. Nothing else should be in the crib with your baby – no quilts, blankets, comforters, pillows, bumper pads, stuffed animals, or soft toys. Car seats and infant carriers should not be used as your baby’s bed. Your baby could get knocked over or roll over. It’s just not worth taking a risk.
  • Why is it important to have a smoke-free home?
    Babies who breathe in smoke are more likely to have lifelong health problems. They are also more likely to die while sleeping. Smoke is a houseguest that always overstays its welcome. Even if you open a window, it drifts around the house and even stays in fabrics and dust. Keep the air in your home clean by asking smokers to go outside. Here are some tips to make your home smoke-free: Ask smokers to smoke outside Get all ashtrays, matches, and lighters out of your home Post a sign on your front door so visitors know not to smoke 

  • Doesn't my baby need to spend time on their tummy?
    Yes! You can provide 'tummy time' when he is awake and being watched. This will help strengthen his neck and arm muscles and prevent flat spots on the back of his head.

The most important thing to know about high blood pressure is that it can be treated through regular management. Even if the causes might be beyond our control, some important ways of treating it are in our control. This means that there is not one solution, but a variety of solutions and things you can do to keep your blood pressure under control.

Resources
Below are resources that can help you manage, or prevent, high blood pressure. if you have symptoms of pre-eclampsia or eclampsia, call your provider or 911. 

Hypertension Resources

Home Visiting

Home visiting is a free program that will match you with a nurse, social worker, or educator who will help you manage any health concerns or reduce stress.

Home visiting is free and open to any  eligible pregnant woman in Baltimore City, no matter what insurance you have.

410-649-0500

WIC_icon_red.png

Nutrition

WIC provides free healthy foods, breastfeeding support, nutrition education, health screenings and referrals to health and social agencies to eligible pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women, infants and children up to age 5 years.

410-396-9427

Patient Advocate

All hospitals have a person or office who will make sure that patients are receiving quality care. This may be called a patient advocate, patient relations specialist, or an ombusdman.

If you are concerned about the treatment you are getting, call the clinic or hospital directory and ask for one. 

bottom of page