This unassuming-yet-all-powerful fist-sized muscle of ours is constantly pumping life-giving oxygen and energy through an intricate mesh of tiny tubes (vessels) that feed into our brain, organs, bones, muscles and now our unborn child... whether or not we're taking care of it.
- What is blood pressure? Your hard-working heart pumps approximately 1.3 gallons of blood through your body ever minute. That's 1900 gallons per day! The amount of power or force required to move that blood at life-sustaining rates through your body's virtually endless network of blood vessels is what we call blood pressure.
- Expect daily variance: Your blood pressure changes throughout the day - fluctuating with your bodily needs, which are now increasing as your body and baby grow. Remember: if you're anxious about your blood pressure or your pregnancy check-up in general, your readings can be abnormally high, as anxiety can raise blood-pressure dramatically.
- Pregnancy pressure shifts: During the first half of pregnancy, your pressure naturally lowers as your uterine blood vessels increase in size to absorb more blood and subsequent force. At around five months, your uterus will level out it's vessel expansion program and your blood pressure will return to normal pre-pregnancy levels if your heart is healthy and the placenta is properly attached.
High blood pressure in pregnancy: (Preeclampsia) is thought to be due to compromised placental vascularization (aka not enough vessels to effectively deliver the needed blood), which risks a weakened placental attachment to the uterine wall and detachment (placental abruption).
In an effort to compensate for the lowered blood flow, the heart pumps harder - straining and damaging vessels with the increased force while trying to deliver the necessary volume of blood to the placenta, as proteins and fluids spill out of the strained vessels causing swelling (edema) and leaving trace proteins in your urine.
- Build a strong heart: As any doctor will tell you, preventive medicine is the cheapest and easiest to take. Basically, if you're making a daily effort to live an active life, consume a nutritious diet full of fresh fruits, veggies, meats, etc. and balance your stress levels through mindful living, your risk of blood pressure problems during pregnancy are close to zero.