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Low Blood Pressure During Pregnancy

written by: Diana Cooper • edited by: Lisa Lambson • updated: 3/5/2010

A decrease in blood pressure is normal during the early months of pregnancy. Learn the symptoms of low blood pressure during pregnancy and what you can do to help prevent them.

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    Low Blood Pressure

    The cycle of the heart is a repeating pattern of contraction and relaxation as it pumps blood throughout the body.

    Low blood pressure (hypotension) is when the pressure of the blood is below 90/60. The top number (90) represents the greatest pressure of the blood against the wall of the vessel (contraction phase). The bottom number (60) represents the least pressure of the blood against the wall of the vessel (relaxation phase).

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    Symptoms of Low Blood Pressure During Pregnancy

    If your blood pressure becomes too low, insufficient blood flows to your organs, including the brain. Blood is what provides oxygen and nutrients to the cells and if the brain does not receive enough oxygen, you may experience symptoms of low blood pressure. Symptoms may include lightheadedness, dizziness, nausea, and visual problems.

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    Causes and Treatment for Low Blood Pressure During Pregnancy

    When you become pregnant, your circulatory system expands rapidly to cater to your baby's blood supply. Because of this, it is normal to have a drop in blood pressure in the early stages of pregnancy. After six months, your blood pressure should begin to rise back to normal levels.

    Although low blood pressure is common during pregnancy, it is important to follow up with your healthcare provider to rule out any serious cause.

    Normally, your body can adjust to the change without problems, but if you do experience any of the above mentioned symptoms, sit down with your head between your knees or lie down on your left side. Either position will help increase blood flow to your brain.

    Avoid lying on your back because a large uterus can compress blood flow returning to your heart from your legs, thus causing more of a drop in your blood pressure (supine hypotensive syndrome).

    When lying or sitting for a period of time, blood pools in your legs and less is available for the brain. Rise slowly when getting up. Also avoid standing in a particular position for a long period of time.

    Dehydration also causes your blood pressure to drop dramatically. Drink plenty of fluids, preferably water.

    Regular exercise, approved by your healthcare provider, will help prevent symptoms of low blood pressure during pregnancy.

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