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Hypertension during pregnancy

Maternal pregnancy complications


Pregnancy hypertension (or gestational hypertension) is the most common pregnancy complication. It affects 5% to 10% of pregnant women.

We talk about hypertension when blood pressure is higher than 140/90 (normal is 120/80). Gestational hypertension usually occurs after the 20th week of pregnancy.

Causes/Risk factors

  • Maternal age is over 40
  • Obesity
  • Problem of hypertension before pregnancy
  • Type 1 or 2 diabetes
  • Known renal disease
  • Known thrombophilia (or bleeding disorder);
  • Multiple pregnancy (twins, triplets, etc.)
  • Personal history of preeclampsia, placental hematoma, low birthweight due to intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), or fetal death in a previous pregnancy
  • Family history of preeclampsia


In addition to monitoring blood pressure as recommended, it is important to tell the nurse or doctor about any headaches, vision problems (like seeing small flashes of light), severe stomach pain, or significant swelling of any part of your body.

Tests and procedures

Blood pressure is measured at each obstetric follow-up meeting.

From the 20th week of pregnancy, a urine test is performed at each appointment to check for the presence of protein in the urine. A positive protein test indicates possible preeclampsia.

If preeclampsia is suspected, the doctor may request more thorough blood and urine tests.

Treatment and follow-up care

If it is not accompanied by protein in the urine, hypertension usually does not compromise pregnancy or delivery.

The doctor may decide to treat hypertension with medication or simply advise the pregnant woman to reduce her activities and rest.

Resources and useful links

  • Deitra L. Lowdermilk et coll. Soins infirmiers/Périnatalité, Montréal, Édition Chenelière Éducation, 2012, p. 734-737.
  • Institut national de santé publique du Québec. Mieux vivre avec son enfant : Guide pratique pour les mères et les pères, Québec : INSPQ, 2017
Page by

Marie-Pierre Gagné, inf. clinicienne et Dre Lucie Morin

About this page
Updated on 1/25/2021
Created on 12/18/2017
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