pregnancy induced hypertension

Pregnancy is a period of joy for the entire family and the health of the mother during this period impacts directly on that of the unborn child. Several diseases can occur during pregnancy and gestational hypertension is one of them which can be fatal to both the mother and the child. Hypertension is a common medical problem encountered during pregnancy, complicating 2-3% of pregnancies. Hypertensive disorders during pregnancy are classified into various categories and for simplicity sake, the term gestational hypertension would be used to describe these disorders. High blood pressure (hypertension) is defined as blood pressure exceeding 140/90 mm Hg even if only one of the numbers is elevated.

Gestational hypertension describes a woman not previously having hypertension before the pregnancy but developing it during the pregnancy. Hypertensive disorders in pregnancy may cause maternal and fetal morbidity and remain a leading source of maternal death. Gestational hypertension has been found to be more common among women at the extremes of maternal age (less than 18 years or greater than 35 years), those having their first pregnancy and those overweight or obese. Because of the seriousness of this condition, it is critical that all pregnant women visit the hospital regularly and at all visits their blood pressure checked and recorded. The earlier this condition is determined, the earlier medical management can begin.

From a nutritional point of view, a dietician would be able to give advice to complement that being given by the doctor. Some simple dietary practices to help manage the high blood pressure include reducing the intake of sodium. Sodium is a mineral found in a variety of foods such as table salt, koobi, kako, pig feet and other salted fishes and meats. Sodium is also present in many canned products such as canned fish and corned beef and because it is a preservative, it’s present in many manufactured foods in one form or another. Sodium is also found in ‘cubes’ and in biscuits labeled soda. These foods should be limited in the diet of a pregnant woman suffering from gestational hypertension.

A pregnant woman should eat a variety of foods to provide a balanced diet. Her diet should always contain some amount of protein in the form of fish or meats. Her intake of fats and oils should be lowered. Among other things, she can help achieve this by boiling, grilling or roasting food when available instead of frying them. She should also stop intake of all forms of alcohol. Green leafy vegetables should be prominent in her daily intake and 2-3 fruits a day used as in-between-meal snacks should be consumed daily. Pastries and ‘soft drinks’ together with other sugary snacks should be limited in the diet of the woman. Moderate physical activity of 30-45 minutes walking at least thrice a week would also help the woman suffering from gestational hypertension. Such a woman should not be exposed to continous excessive stress both both at work and at home. The benefits of enough rest cannot be overemphasised.



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