Labour stress can cause hypertension after childbirth — Gynaecologists

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A renowned Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Oladapo Ladipo, has revealed that labour stress can trigger hypertension after child birth. Ladipo, who is the co-founder, Association for Reproductive and Family Health, advised that a woman who feels unwell after delivery should see a maternal health expert immediately, especially for signs of headache, lethargy or general weakness.

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The maternal health expert restated the need to monitor a new mum for high blood pressure after childbirth, noting that the clinical chemistry of the woman often determines whether she will have postpartum hypertension or not.

He explained: “If you are predisposed to hypertension, for example, you have a family history of hypertension, are obese, or even if you don’t have it, the stress of delivery can trigger it. The important thing is to diagnose and have it treated. A woman can have hypertension immediately after delivery. Anything can trigger it if you are predisposed to it. So, the stress of delivery can trigger hypertension in women who are predisposed to it. If left untreated, they could die from it. Hypertension could rupture the brain vessels and cause stroke” he said.

The professor urged women having sustained headaches after delivery to see a midwife or doctor for medical evaluation. He also counselled new moms to reduce stress, sleep well and avoid things that could predispose them to hypertension.

Further speaking on the medical condition, the gynaecologist, Ladipo said, “It is true that a woman that just had a baby and doesn’t have high blood pressure before and during labour can suddenly develop postpartum hypertension.

“You can have it before, you can have it during labour and you can have it after delivery too. You can have high blood pressure at any time.  It can suddenly start at any time. It is for the midwife or obstetrician to monitor and be on the lookout.”

The American Heart Association says high blood pressure is likely to linger after pregnancy in women who have preeclampsia. The association noted that women with the condition are more likely to have high blood pressure after delivery compared to women who maintained normal blood pressure during their pregnancies.

Also speaking, a Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Dr. Joseph Akinde, said inadequate rest and lack of sleep during pregnancy could increase the risk of a woman developing hypertension.

He urged pregnant women to always get sufficient rest and sleep, warning that failure to do so would expose them to the risk of premature labour, miscarriage, and hypertension.

According to Akinde, pregnant women who are advised by their doctors to observe some rest should do so, further warning that stress and lack of rest usually have adverse effects on pregnancy.

He identified poverty as a key hindrance to women’s well-being, especially during pregnancy, noting that this often results in malnutrition, anaemia, low birth babies, or foetal loss.

The gynaecologist said a pregnant woman needs to have between six to eight hours of sleep daily.

Akinde who is a former chairman of the Society of Gynaecology and Obstetrics of Nigeria, Lagos State Chapter, said, “When pregnant women are advised to take rest and they do not, they might end up having premature labour, which may come sooner than expected. This will cause them to spend more money and they may have miscarriages. Again, they could develop complications in pregnancy like hypertension that may even lead to pre-eclampsia and claim their lives. As much as possible, pregnant women should heed their doctors’ advice rather than being penny wise, pound foolish. A pregnant woman needs to sleep for six to eight hours a day.”

The maternal health expert appealed to busy pregnant women to slow down from 36 weeks upward.

“The truth of the matter is that when you are stressed, you will have elevated blood pressure. And we know that hypertensive disorder in pregnancy is one of the real causes of maternal and infant mortality in Nigeria,” he added.

The gynaecologist urged the government to make normal delivery at its health facilities free and to offer minimal charges to those who deliver through caesarean section.



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