- When to See a Doctor
What is low blood pressure?
Blood pressure is the force of blood against the walls of arteries. When blood pressure is too low, also called hypotension, blood doesn’t reach the entire body. This can mean your cells don’t get enough oxygen and nutrients, waste products aren’t properly removed from the body, and organs might not function properly.
It is normal for women to experience low blood pressure in pregnancy. As long as the low blood pressure stays within healthy range, your doctor may not be overly concerned. However, while it is normal, hypotension in pregnancy may also have specific causes.
Signs of low blood pressure in pregnancy
Blood pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg) and has two values:
- Systolic pressure – the pressure when the heart pumps blood out
- Diastolic pressure - the pressure of the blood between heart beats
Low blood pressure in pregnancy measures at 90/60 mmHg. Normal blood blood pressure is considered up to 120/80 mmHg.
Other common symptoms of low blood pressure in pregnancy include:
This may happen when you stand up or change positions quickly, which is called orthostatic hypotension.
Causes of low blood pressure in pregnancy
Low blood pressure in pregnancy is normal. This occurs because the central nervous system expands quickly. When this happens, blood pressure is likely to drop, though it usually returns to pre-pregnancy levels after birth.
There may be other conditions that contribute to low blood pressure, including:
- Heart conditions
- Allergic reactions
- Diseases like diabetes or thyroid disease
- Certain medications
- Extended bed rest
- Prolonged infection
Additionally, low blood pressure in pregnancy may be caused by:
Supine hypotensive syndrome of pregnancy
This condition, also called maternal hypotension syndrome, can occur when you are pregnant and sleep on your back or right side. The enlarged uterus presses on a main vein and reduces blood flow, leading to low blood pressure.
An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus. When it ruptures, women often have vaginal bleeding and abdominal pain. If you have substantial blood loss, you may feel faint, sweaty, and lightheaded, which can indicate dangerously low blood pressure.
Epidural or spinal anesthesia
During delivery, some mothers have an epidural or a Caesarean section. A side effect of these practices is low blood pressure, which may cause the mother to feel faint or nauseous. Your doctor will monitor and treat this side effect.
When to see the doctor for low blood pressure in pregnancy
Your doctor will check your blood pressure during every prenatal appointment. Blood pressure is an important vital sign that doctors monitor during pregnancy.
It is normal to experience low blood pressure in pregnancy. Be sure to attend your regular appointments and to inform your doctor of your symptoms.
If symptoms appear with sudden bleeding, chest pain, severe headaches, or confusion, seek immediate medical attention. See your doctor if symptoms like fainting cause falls or happen at dangerous times, like while driving.
Tests for low blood pressure in pregnancy
Tests for low blood pressure in pregnancy usually involve a blood pressure cuff that pumps your arm to restrict blood flow. You can often find blood pressure test stations in pharmacies and clinics and you can purchase blood pressure test devices to monitor your pressure at home.
Sometimes your doctor may also do blood tests to check for low blood sugar or low red blood cells that can cause anemia. They may also do an electrocardiogram (ECG) or echocardiogram to check for heart-related problems.
Treatments for low blood pressure in pregnancy
Because low blood pressure in pregnancy is normal, your doctor may not prescribe medication unless serious or severe symptoms develop. The treatment will be to monitor symptoms and make lifestyle adjustments.
These might include:
- Drinking more water to prevent dehydration
- Wearing compression socks
- Sitting up or standing up slowly
- Raising the head of your bed or prop yourself up in bed with pillows
- Sleeping on your left side to prevent blood flow restriction
If you have an epidural or Caesarean section, your doctor may use medications or specific techniques to help prevent serious low blood pressure from developing
Latest Pregnancy News
Daily Health News
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Merck Manuals: "Ectopic Pregnancy – Women’s Health Issues."
Merck Manuals: "Low Blood Pressure – Heart and Blood Vessel Disorders."
National Health Service: "Blood pressure test."
National Health Service: "Low blood pressure (hypotension)."
National Health Service: "What is blood pressure?"
NCH Healthcare System: "Diseases and Conditions Orthostatic hypotension (postural hypotension)."
Sherman, C. Gauthier, M. David, M. Anesthesiology Core Review: Part Two Advanced Exam, McGraw Hill Education Inc, 2016.
Office on Women’s Health: "Prenatal care and tests."
Office on Women’s Health: "Staying healthy and safe."
Top What Causes Low Blood Pressure in Pregnancy Related Articles
Pregnancy Discomforts: Common CausesDuring pregnancy, most women will experience discomforts during the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd trimesters. Common causes of discomforts during pregnancy include nausea and vomiting (morning sickness), fatigue, breast swelling and pain, hemorrhoids, stretch marks, mood swings, dizziness, migraines, tooth pain and bleeding gums, and pica.
Common causes of pregnancy discomforts include constipation, heartburn, indigestion, reflux, varicose veins, abdominal pain, problems sleeping, congested or bloody nose, and flu like body aches.
Pregnancy SymptomsWhat are the early signs and symptoms of pregnancy? Can you know before your missed period? Read about nausea and vomiting (morning sickness), bloating, tender breasts, and more. Explore first trimester symptoms of pregnancy and learn what week pregnancy symptoms start.
How Does Preeclampsia Turn Into Eclampsia?What is the difference between preeclampsia and eclampsia? How does preeclampsia turn into eclampsia?
Low Blood Pressure (Hypotension)Low blood pressure, also referred to as hypotension, is blood pressure that is so low that it causes symptoms or signs due to the low flow of blood through the arteries and veins. Some of the symptoms of low blood pressure include light-headedness, dizziness, and fainting if not enough blood is getting to the brain. Diseases and medications can also cause low blood pressure. When the flow of blood is too low to deliver enough oxygen and nutrients to vital organs such as the brain, heart, and kidneys; the organs do not function normally and may be permanently damaged.
Low Blood Pressure (Hypotension) CausesLow blood pressure (hypotension) occurs when blood pressure drops below the normal range. Low blood pressure can be temporary, or it can be a chronic (long-lasting) condition.
Low Blood PressureWhat is low blood pressure (hypotension)? Explore low blood pressure causes, symptoms, and signs. Discover what is considered low blood pressure.
Pregnancy (Week by Week, Trimesters)Signs and symptoms of pregnancy vary by stage (trimester). The earliest pregnancy symptom is typically a missed period, but others include breast swelling and tenderness, nausea and sometimes vomiting, fatigue, and bloating. Second trimester symptoms include backache, weight gain, itching, and possible stretch marks. Third trimester symptoms are additional weight gain, heartburn, hemorrhoids, swelling of the ankles, fingers, and face, breast tenderness, and trouble sleeping. Eating a healthy diet, getting a moderate amount of exercise, also are recommended for a healthy pregnancy. Information about the week by week growth of your baby in the womb are provided.
Pregnancy Changes and Body Discomforts
Pregnancy can bring challenges like
- weight gain,
- stretch marks,
- varicose veins,
- problems sleeping, and
- wondering if it is safe to have sex while pregnant.
Learn how to manage and move through these challenges during pregnancy.
Pregnancy Myths QuizBeing pregnant is a delicate time for both mother and baby. Take this quiz to separate the myths and facts about being pregnant, and learn the truth behind healthy pregnancies!
Stages of PregnancySee pictures on the various stages of pregnancy. See and learn what changes a woman's body goes through and view fetal images of how her baby grows during the 1st, 2nd and 3rd trimesters.
What Can You Do For Treatment if Your Blood Pressure Is Too Low?Learn what medical treatments can help with your low blood pressure and speed up your recovery.
What Are Anemia Symptoms During Pregnancy?Anemia during pregnancy is a common issue that affects many women. Learn the signs of anemia, what causes anemia, how doctors diagnose anemia, and what you can do to treat anemia in pregnancy.
What Foods Are Good If You Have Low Blood Pressure?What is low blood pressure and what causes it? Learn the signs and symptoms of low blood pressure and what you can do to treat it.
What Happens When You Have Preeclampsia?What is preeclampsia? Learn about preeclampsia and how it may affect your health during pregnancy.