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7 ways to lower blood pressure during pregnancy

No medications needed, just a couple of lifestyle changes.

how to prevent high blood pressure during pregnancy

You may think of high blood pressure as a problem you'll have to deal with when you are older, but it turns out, many pregnant women deal with it too. Hypertension affects up to 8 percent of expecting women and can lead to complications—from preeclampsia to low birth weight to higher risk of placenta abruption (placenta separating from the uterus before labor) to kidney problems. So if you were diagnosed with gestational hypertension or are at risk of developing it during pregnancy, you should find a way to keep your blood pressure under control; and since a lot of medications are big no-nos during pregnancy, the key to doing so is making a few lifestyle changes.

Here are 7 natural ways you can lower your blood pressure during pregnancy.


1. Ditch the salt. Although your body requires sodium in small amounts, consuming too much sodium can lead to hypertension. So try to substitute salt for other spices, like cumin fresh herbs and lemon pepper. You can also rinse canned food to rid them of any extra sodium, and try your best to avoid processed foods and fast foods. If you buy processed foods, try to choose low-sodium options.

2. Eat a healthy more whole grains and potassium-rich foods. Go bananas on, well, bananas, but not just. Sweet potatoes, prunes, raisins, kidney beans, tomatoes and more are all high on potassium and can thus help you lower your blood pressure. Studies have shown that whole grains, which are rich in dietary fibers, can also help reduce hypertension. So fuel up on legumes, vegetables, protein and whole grains. For example, for breakfast you could have a mixed veggie omelet paired with whole grain toast and a side of fruit.

3. Destress. Whether you are pregnant or not, being stressed can actually cause your blood pressure to hike. So try eliminating the things that trigger anxiety, and do what you can to promote relaxation -- whether it's meditation, yoga or breathing techniques. All these can eventually help you manage labor pain, so it's good practice for the big day, too.

4. Get moving. Women who are sedentary are more likely to develop high blood pressure. So implementing a consistent physical routine that you can do throughout your pregnancy is very important. Not only will it relieve stress, increase blood circulation and lower blood pressure, but it will have a positive impact on your baby's health outcome going forward. So try to exercise 30 minutes every day. And if you don't usually work out, you can do things that are not too intensive, like walking or swimming.

5. No smoking or alcohol. This goes without saying, but avoiding smoking and alcohol during your pregnancy is essential for the safety and health of your baby. What's more, both alcohol and cigarette smoking can bring your blood pressure up. So if you are still smoking during pregnancy, talk to your doctor to implement a plan to quit.

6. Keep a close eye on your weight. You've heard the saying "eating for two" before, but you shouldn't take it literally. Being overweight is a risk factor for hypertension, so you want to make sure that your pregnancy weight gain stays within healthy limits. So focus on a healthy regimen and, of course, listen to your body.

7. Follow medication protocol. If you've been advised to take any medications, it's important to adhere to the schedule and take it as noted. Also, hypertension can be a side effect of some medication. So make sure to talk to your doctor to find out what is safe to take during pregnancy.

After 4 kids, this is still the best baby gear item I’ve ever purchased

I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work.

I have four kids 8 and under, so you might expect that my house is teeming with baby gear and kid toys.

But it turns out that for me, the more kids I have, the more I simplify our stuff. At this point, I'm down to the absolute essentials, the gear that I can't live without and the toys my kids actually play with. And so when a mama-to-be asks me what things are worth registering for, there are only a few must-haves on my list.

The BABYBJÖRN bouncer seat is on the top of my list—totally worth it and an absolute must-have for any new mama.

In fact, since I first splurged on my first BABYBJÖRN bouncer eight years ago (it definitely felt like a splurge at the time, but the five star reviews were really compelling), the bouncer seat has become the most-used product in our house for baby's first year.

We've actually invested in a second one so that we didn't have to keep moving ours from the bedroom to the living room when we change locations.

BABYBJÖRN bouncer bliss

baby bjorn bouncer

The utility of the seat might seem counterintuitive—it has no mechanical parts, so your baby is instead gently bounced by her own movements. In a world where many baby products are touted for their ability to mechanically rock baby to sleep, I get that many moms might not find the "no-motion" bouncer that compelling. But it turns out that the seat is quite reactive to baby's little kicks, and it has helped my kids to learn how to self-soothe.

$200

Lightweight + compact:

The BABYBJÖRN bouncer is super lightweight, and it also folds flat in a second. Because of those features, we've frequently stored it under the couch, in a suitcase or in the back of the car. It folds completely flat, which I love.

Entertainment zone:

Is the toy bar worth it? The toy bar is totally worth it. Not only is the toy bar adorable, but it's one of the first toys that my babies actually play with once they discover the world beyond my boobs. The toys spin and are close to eye level so they have frequently kept my baby entertained while I cook or take a quick shower.

Great style:

This is not a small detail to me–the BABYBJÖRN bouncer is seriously stylish. I am done with baby gear and toys that make my house look like a theme park. The elegant European design honestly just looks good in my living room and I appreciate that parents can enjoy it as much as baby.

It's adjustable:

With three height settings that let you prop baby up to be entertained, or lay back to rest, we get years of use. And the bouncer can actually be adjusted for bigger kids and used from newborn to toddler age. It's that good.

It just works:

I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work. But I have used the seat as a safe space to put baby while I've worked (I once rocked my baby in it with my foot while I reported on a breaking news story for the Washington Post), and as a cozy spot for my second child to lay while his big brother played nearby. It's held up for almost a decade with almost-constant use.

So for me, looking back on what I thought was a splurge eight years ago, was actually one of the best investments in baby gear I ever made.

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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This is my one trick to get baby to sleep (and it always works!)

There's a reason why every mom tells you to buy a sound machine.

So in my defense, I grew up in Florida. As a child of the sunshine state, I knew I had to check for gators before sitting on the toilet, that cockroaches didn't just scurry, they actually flew, and at that point, the most popular and only sound machine I had ever heard of was the Miami Sound Machine.

I was raised on the notion that the rhythm was going to get me, not lull me into a peaceful slumber. Who knew?!

Well evidently science and, probably, Gloria Estefan knew, but I digress.

When my son was born, I just assumed the kid would know how to sleep. When I'm tired that's what I do, so why wouldn't this smaller more easily exhausted version of me not work the same way? Well, the simple and cinematic answer is, he is not in Kansas anymore.

Being in utero is like being in a warm, soothing and squishy spa. It's cozy, it's secure, it comes with its own soundtrack. Then one day the spa is gone. The space is bigger, brighter and the constant stream of music has come to an abrupt end. Your baby just needs a little time to acclimate and a little assist from continuous sound support.

My son, like most babies, was a restless and active sleeper. It didn't take much to jolt him from a sound sleep to crying like a banshee. I once microwaved a piece of pizza, and you would have thought I let 50 Rockettes into his room to perform a kick line.

I was literally walking on eggshells, tiptoeing around the house, watching the television with the closed caption on.

Like adults, babies have an internal clock. Unlike adults, babies haven't harnessed the ability to hit the snooze button on that internal clock. Lucky for babies they have a great Mama to hit the snooze button for them.

Enter the beloved by all—sound machines.

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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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