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High blood pressure and pre-eclampsia

It’s important to notify your midwife and GP if you are pregnant and have a history of hypertension (high blood pressure).

There are some things you can try at home to reduce your blood pressure if it is high during pregnancy, such as healthy eating and regular, moderate exercise if you feel comfortable.

It’s important that you attend your midwifery appointments so your blood pressure can be monitored regularly. Your midwife will monitor your blood pressure at all antenatal appointments to ensure that it is no impact on your baby’s growth and development.

After around 20 weeks into your pregnancy, you might be offered a test to rule out a condition known as pre-eclampsia. This is an issue thought to be caused by the placenta that can raise your blood pressure. You are at a higher risk of pre-eclampsia if you:

  • have had high blood pressure prior to becoming pregnant
  • have a family history of pre-eclampsia
  • have diabetes, kidney disease or an auto-immune disorder

Signs of pre-eclampsia

The early indicators are high blood pressure alongside protein in your urine, these will both be checked at your antenatal appointments.

As the condition develops, it can cause:

  • severe headaches
  • problems with your vision, such as blurring or seeing flashing lights
  • pain just below the ribs
  • vomiting
  • a sudden swelling of the feet, ankles, face and hands

If you notice any of the symptoms of pre-eclampsia, seek advice immediately from your GP or 111.

After being diagnosed with pre-eclampsia, you’ll be referred to a specialist for more tests. Most cases of pre-eclampsia improve soon after the baby is delivered. But there is a rare risk of it developing into eclampsia, a serious condition where high blood pressure causes seizures.

Useful links

NHS – Pre-eclampsia

Tommy’s – Pre-eclampsia information and support

NHS – High blood pressure and pregnancy


Page last reviewed: 22-06-2022

Next review due: 22-06-2025