Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Overview Incidence Risk Factors Symptoms Evaluation Treatment questions for doctor specialist Home Care BP checks diet warning signs Prevention Outlook Complications Underlying Cause

High Blood Pressure due to Pregnancy Home Care

Home care for preeclampsia includes:

  • Stop smoking.
  • Avoid exposure to secondary smoke.
  • Do not drink alcohol.
  • Learn how to take your blood pressure.
  • Check your blood pressure every day:
    • Keep a blood pressure diary.
  • Measure your weight every day.
    • Notify your doctor for any sudden increase in weight.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Take your medications as directed:
    • Don't skip doses of your medication. This makes them less effective.
    • Avoid running out of your medication. Refill your prescriptions early.
    • Don't stop taking your medication just because you feel better.
    • If you feel worse, talk to your doctor before you stop your medication.
    • Be aware of the common side effects that may be caused by your medication.

High Blood Pressure due to Pregnancy BP Checks

It is helpful to learn how to monitor your own blood pressure during pregnancy. This can aid in the early detection of preeclampsia.

Taking your Blood Pressure
A number of devices are available for home blood pressure measurement. Digital blood pressure devices are easy to use: they automatically calculate the pulse and display the systolic and diastolic pressures. However, a simple blood pressure cuff with a stethoscope is the most accurate way to measure blood pressure.

Tips for Obtaining an Accurate Blood Pressure

  • Remain seated or lying flat with the arm supported at heart level.
  • No smoking or caffeine for 30 minutes prior to measurement.
  • Rest for 5 minutes before taking your blood pressure.
  • The blood pressure air bladder should nearly encircle the arm: persons with large arms may require an extra large adult cuff. Cuffs are usually marked to indicate the acceptable size range.
  • Apply cuff 1/2 inch above elbow crease.
  • Locate brachial pulse and place the stethoscope bell at this location.
  • With the valve closed, pump up cuff bulb to approximately 210 mm Hg, or a point where no sounds are heard through the stethoscope.
  • Open the valve slowly (2-3 mm Hg per second) and listen for the point where the tapping sounds are first heard. The corresponding reading on the dial is the systolic pressure.
  • Then, listen for the point where the tapping sounds stop. The corresponding reading on the dial is the diastolic pressure.
  • Perform two more readings per session, separated by 5 minutes.
  • The blood pressure must be elevated during at least 3 separate sessions to diagnose hypertension.

Systolic Pressure Guideline for Adults
Systolic Blood PressureAssessment
Over 140-159Hypertension Stage 1
160 or higherHypertension Stage 2

Diastolic Pressure Guideline for Adults
Diastolic Blood PressureAssessment
Below 80Normal
90-99Hypertension Stage 1
100 or higherHypertension Stage 2

High Blood Pressure due to Pregnancy Diet

A healthy diet during pregnancy can lower your risk for complications such as preeclampsia.

A well balanced diet during pregnancy consists of a variety of carefully selected, nutrient dense foods (high nutrient value per total calories) will ensure that both the mother and the baby are getting the nutrients they need.

Folic acid belongs to an important group of water-soluble vitamins known as the B-complex vitamins. This family of vitamins is important in both metabolism and red blood cell production. Folic acid deficiency is one of the more common B-complex deficiencies and results in a condition known as pernicious anemia. Another important cause of pernicious anemia is B-12 vitamin deficiency. Women who are pregnant and infants have an increased need for these vitamins.

Vitamin deficiencies during pregnancy can increase the risk for birth defects. The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends all women of childbearing age take a vitamin that contains folic acid to decrease the risk of birth defects (e.g. spina bifida, related to vitamin deficiency). 400-800 micrograms of folic acid per day is a common supplemental dosage.

Energy Requirements
Ensure that energy sources (calories) are adjusted to 15% above average non-pregnant needs. To calculate your approximate baseline (non-pregnant) daily caloric needs multiply your current body weight (in pounds) by: 10, 15, or 20 (for light, medium, or heavy activity). The resulting number will equal the number of calories/day necessary to maintain that weight. Finally, multiply this number by .15 to get the additional number of calories you should be adding to the total to account for pregnancy.

Pregnant women usually require 300 calories more per day than their pre-pregnancy requirement. This number will vary according to height, body size, age, and level of activity. This number can increase to 500 additional calories per day if you are breast-feeding. Check with your doctor or nutritionist for your exact calorie requirements.

During pregnancy, a boost in the total calories and a gain in weight are necessary to nourish the growing fetus, sustain the normal increase in body size, and provide energy for the extra work of carrying the baby.

Daily Food Plan Adjusted for Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
The best diet during breastfeeding is similar to that during pregnancy, with some modifications. When there is a family history of eczema and other allergies, you may reduce the risk of allergic problems when breastfeeding by avoiding eggs, chocolate, licorice, nuts (especially peanuts), seafood and dairy products. Many medications, supplements, foods, and alcohol can pass into the breast milk and cause feeding problems in infants. See Nursing Your Baby for more information.

Food GroupServings Per Day
Dairy4 cups milk or equivalent
Meat2 servings (3-4 oz. each, 2% milk)
Grains4-5 slices or servings
Fruits/Vegetables4-5 servings

Good snacks:
  • Applesauce
  • Celery stuffed with peanut butter
  • Cubes of ham or cheese
  • Graham crackers and peanut butter
  • Granola bars
  • Hard cooked eggs
  • Low fat yogurt or cottage cheese
  • Raw fruits or vegetables
  • Small meat or cheese sandwiches

Other Dietary Considerations
  • Adjust total daily protein intake to 1.3 grams per kilogram of body weight. Two thirds of total protein intake should be of high biological quality, such as that found in eggs, milk, meat, or soy protein.
    • Adequate total energy intake is essential for optimal protein utilization.
  • Allow pre-pregnancy intake of sodium and fluids.
  • Supplement diet with 30-60 mg of elemental iron daily throughout pregnancy (most ferrous sulfate pills with 325 mg of iron contain about 60-65 mg of elemental iron per pill).
  • During pregnancy you will want to maintain you calcium intake to 1,200-1,500 mg of calcium per day. Eat foods rich in calcium such as low-fat dairy products, broccoli, kale, and spinach greens, almonds, and soy milk. Talk to your doctor about whether you need to take calcium supplements.

Calcium Containing Food Sources
FoodServing SizeCalcium Per Serving
Sardines in oil3 oz370 mg
Milk1 cup290-300 mg
Swiss cheese1 oz (slice)250-270 mg
Yogurt1 cup240-400 mg
Canned salmon3 oz170-210 mg
American cheese1 oz (slice165-200 mg
Broccoli1 cup160-180 mg
Soybean curd (tofu)4 oz145-155 mg
Turnip greens1/2 cup, cooked100-125 mg
Ice cream1/2 cup90-100 mg
Kale1/2 cup, cooked90-100 mg
Cottage cheese1/2 cup80-100 mg
Corn bread2.5 inch square80-90 mg
Parmesan cheese1 Tbsp70 mg
Egg1 medium55 mg
Powdered milk1 tsp50 mg

High Blood Pressure due to Pregnancy Warning Signs

Notify your doctor if you are pregnant and develop:

Continue to High Blood Pressure due to Pregnancy Prevention

Last Updated: Dec 23, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
Copyright DSHI Systems, Inc. Powered by: FreeMD - Your Virtual Doctor

PubMed High Blood Pressure due to Pregnancy References
  1. Bhattacharya S, Campbell DM. The incidence of severe complications of preeclampsia. Hypertens Pregnancy. 2005;24(2):181-90. [16036402]
  2. Conde-Agudelo A, Villar J, Lindheimer M. World Health Organization systematic review of screening tests for preeclampsia. Obstet Gynecol. 2004 Dec;104(6):1367-91. [15572504]
  3. de Jong CL, Dekker GA, Sibai BM. The renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system in preeclampsia. A review. Clin Perinatol. 1991 Dec;18(4):683-711. [1662573]
FreeMD is provided for information purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for evaluation and treatment by a physician. Please review our terms of use.