Weeks before I went into labor with my youngest, I remember my doctor scolding me about my blood pressure. It was too high.
She then asked me what I’d been eating. I told her that my mother-in-law had been cooking for me. She then turned to my husband and rattled off to him in Chinese. My grasp of the language isn’t stellar, but I understood her enough that she admonished him for his mother’s cooking.
She went on to tell him I shouldn’t have salt in anything.
High blood pressure before labor and low blood pressure before labor too are some concerning things. There’s nothing to freak out about, but here’s what you should know regarding your blood pressure and labor.
Is high blood pressure a sign of labor?
Throughout your prenatal checkups, your doctor will check your blood pressure and log it into your chart. If it’s normal, no worries. But your blood pressure may rise in those last couple of days before you go into labor.
And once you go into labor, the pain you feel may cause some increase in your sympathetic nerves which will cause your blood pressure to rise.
So, in short, your doctor is watching for high blood pressure during your pregnancy because of preeclampsia. But if it’s been normal and suddenly you’re at the end of your pregnancy, and it’s high, there’s a good chance you will be heading into labor soon.
Will blood pressure go up before labor?
It’s common for blood pressure to rise somewhere between 24 and 48 hours before you go into labor. Again, if your blood pressure has been fine up until now, it is nothing to freak out about. Your doctor will be paying full attention to this.
If you’re worried about your blood pressure, you should watch your sodium intake and eat healthy foods. You’ll need all those nutrients to help you push through labor and delivery. Even if you have a planned c-section, you will want to have the best nourishment to sustain yourself through this ordeal.
Can low blood pressure cause labor?
Low blood pressure is common in the first 24 weeks of pregnancy. While it tends to cause problems for those trying to get pregnant, it doesn’t cause labor.
Low blood pressure may make you feel dizzy, nauseous, and fatigued during pregnancy. It can also explain any blurred vision or cool and sweaty skin. Often, this will happen if you stand up quickly or suddenly change your position.
In those first 24 weeks of your pregnancy, your body is secreting higher levels of progesterone which relax your blood vessel walls and reduce your blood pressure. It can become worse if you’re stressed or not drinking enough water. Additionally, your blood sugar levels and medications you may be taking can worsen things.
The medical term for low blood pressure is hypotension; in case you’re wondering, hypertension is what they call high blood pressure. Hypotension could increase your risk for fainting and hence falling, causing injury to you and your baby.
If you have low blood pressure, your doctor will be aware of it during your visits. They may tell you to drink more water and eat smaller meals. You should also get up slowly when you need to stand and try not to stand for long durations.
Now, when it comes to labor, if you’ve never had hypotension issues before, when you get spinal anesthesia and are lying flat on your back, this can create some pressure issues in your veins. This is more common when you are in a tilted flat position.
Again, your doctor is monitoring this during your labor. They will have a fetal heart rate monitor and be monitoring you. The one monitoring the baby is most crucial because it will tell them if your baby is losing oxygen.
If no time is left to spare, this could result in you needing to have an emergency c-section.
But I’m not telling you this to make you panic. I’m telling you this so you can open a discussion with your doctor about blood pressure. If yours is too high or too low, you will want to be sure you’re doing everything on your end to ensure your and your baby’s health.
At what blood pressure will they induce labor?
If you are beyond 37 weeks in your pregnancy and have had gestational hypertension, you may have to be forced into labor. Generally, that diastolic number is 95 mmHg or anything higher than that.
For those with mild preeclampsia, there may be a chance they’ll induce your labor too.
If you have preeclampsia, I’d definitely make a note to discuss this with your doctor at your next checkup. You may not be able to avoid some of these things, but knowing what you may be facing can help you prepare.
In any event, try your best to keep your blood pressure at an even level during pregnancy. If it suddenly rises at the end of your pregnancy, you may want to double-check that hospital bag and be ready for show time when labor starts!
Leslie Berry lives with her husband and two young daughters in Los Altos, California, where she loves helping other moms get comfortable with motherhood and embracing the insanity with facts peppered with laughs.
She loves eating too much sushi, exercising, and jamming out on her Fender. Read more about Leslie here.