15 Potential Complications During Pregnancy No one Wants to Talk About
What Are The Most Common Complications During Pregnancy?
Thankfully, most pregnancies go though without complications. However, there are some women that suffer significant complications during pregnancy. Last month we talked about the most common infections a woman should be aware during pregnancy. Just like infections, complications can also be prevented. Complications can be new, or an aggravation from prior health conditions from the mother. Because some of those complications are preventable, it is best to be aware of them. As part baby planning and pregnancy support, I have compiled a list of the 15 most common complications during pregnancy.
Anemia is when your red blood cell levels are below normal. If you develop pregnancy-related anemia taking iron and folic acid supplements will help. Your care provider will check your iron levels throughout your pregnancy. The possible signs of anemia are: looking pale, feeling tired or weak, feeling faint, and shortness of breath.
You never want to discontinue asthma medication unless advised by your care provider. Pregnant people who stop taking asthma medication can be subject to worsening symptoms. Mild asthma can become severe. Asthma that is not controlled may increase your risk of high blood pressure, poor weight gain of baby, as well as preterm birth and surgical birth.
Depression that persists during pregnancy can make it hard for a woman to care for herself and her unborn baby. Having depression before pregnancy also is a risk factor for postpartum depression. If you are already prone to depression prior to pregnancy, you are at a higher risk for postpartum depression. Depression that persists and does not dissipate over the first few weeks should be discussed with your care provider. Your postpartum doula will go over specific symptoms at each postpartum session to determine if further evaluation might be necessary. Almost 80% of women experience mild forms of depression after birth and up to 25% experience more severe symptoms requiring medical intervention. Remember that a new parent suffering from depression can have a difficult time caring for themselves and their new baby. Treatments might include therapy, support groups, and medications
If you have pre-existing diabetes, it is strongly advised to have it under controls 3-6 months before even trying to conceive. That is because high sugar levels during pregnancy can be harmful to the baby and create long-term complications for you.
5. Eating Disorders
Women with eating disorders have a higher rate of postpartum depression. Eating disorders are also linked to complications during pregnancy including birth defects and premature births. Because of the many changes during pregnancy, body image can cause eating disorders to worsen. Women with eating disorders also have higher rates of postpartum depression.
6. Epilepsy and other seizure disorders
Seizures during pregnancy can harm the fetus, and increase the risk of miscarriage or stillbirth. However, using medicine to control seizures might cause birth defects. For most pregnant women with epilepsy, using medicine poses less risk to their own health and the health of their babies than stopping the medicine.
7. Ectopic Pregnancy
With ectopic pregnancy, the egg cannot develop. Drugs or surgery is used to remove the tissue so your organs are not damaged. An ectopic pregnancy is when the fertilized egg implants outside of the uterus, usually in the fallopian tube. Symptoms can include, abdominal pain, vaginal bleeding, feeling dizzy or fainting.
8. Gestational Diabetes
Gestational diabetes is basically blood sugar levels that are too high during pregnancy. Most women with pregnancy-related diabetes can control their blood sugar levels by a following a healthy meal plan from their doctor. Some women also need insulin to keep blood sugar levels under control. Poorly controlled diabetes increases the risk of Preeclampsia, early delivery, cesarean birth. It can also cause you to have a big baby which can complicate delivery, a baby born with low blood sugar, breathing problems, and jaundice. Usually, there are no symptoms. Sometimes, extreme thirst, hunger, or fatigue. Screening test shows high blood sugar levels
9. High Blood Pressure
Women with high blood pressure have a higher risk of preeclampsia and placental abruption. The likelihood of preterm birth and low birth weight also increases. Pregnancy Related high blood pressure is defined as high blood pressure that starts after 20 weeks of pregnancy and goes away after birth. It can also be defined as high blood pressure without other signs and symptoms of preeclampsia. You and your baby will be closely monitored to make sure high blood pressure is not preeclampsia.
10. Hyperemesis Gravidarum
Hyperemesis gravidarum is severe, persistent nausea and vomiting during pregnancy much more extreme than morning sickness. Dry, bland foods and fluids together is the first line of defense. Sometimes, medicines are prescribed to help nausea. Many women with hyperemesis gravidarum have to be hospitalized so they can be fed fluids and nutrients through a tube in their veins. Usually, they begin to feel better by the 20th week of pregnancy. But some women vomit and feel nauseated throughout all three trimesters. The symptoms include: Nausea that does not go away, vomiting several times every day, weight loss, loss of appetite, dehydration and feeling faint or fainting.
If you suffer from Migraine, here is some good news; symptoms tend to improve during pregnancy. Some women have no migraine attacks during pregnancy at all, which is good to know since certain medicines commonly used to treat migraine should not be used during pregnancy.
Up to 20 percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage. In most of these cases, miscarriage cannot be prevented. Sometimes, a woman must undergo treatment to remove pregnancy tissue in the uterus. Counseling can help with emotional healing. Often, miscarriage occurs before a woman even knows she is pregnant. Signs of a miscarriage can include: vaginal spotting or bleeding, cramping or abdominal pain, fluid or tissue passing from the vagina. Any time you have vaginal bleeding or spotting you should report it immediately to the doctor.
Preeclampsia is a condition starting after 20 weeks of pregnancy that causes high blood pressure and problems with the kidneys and other organs. It is also called toxemia. The only cure is delivery, which may not be best for the baby. Labor will probably be induced if condition is mild and you are close to term (37 to 40 weeks of pregnancy). If it is too early to deliver, the doctor will watch your health and your baby very closely. You may need medicines and bed rest at home or in the hospital to lower your blood pressure. Medicines also might be used to prevent seizures. The symptoms include: high blood pressure, swelling of hands and face, protein in urine, stomach pain, blurred vision, dizziness and headaches.
14. Thyroid Disease
Uncontrolled hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) can be dangerous to the mother and cause health problems such as heart failure and poor weight gain in the fetus. Uncontrolled hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) also threatens the mother’s health and can cause birth defects. The key word here is “uncontrolled”. It is very important that you take you medications to keep your thyroid levels under control.
15. Uterine Fibroids
Lastly, uterine fibroids is another pregnancy-related complication you should be aware about. Sometimes fibroids can cause a preterm or breech birth and a surgical birth might be necessary if the fibroid is blocking the birth canal. Most uterine fibroids do not require treatment. Uterine fibroids rarely cause miscarriage. Sometimes, fibroids can cause preterm or breech birth. Cesarean delivery may be needed if a fibroid blocks the birth canal.
There are also products and environments you should avoid during pregnancy which can cause complications to you and especially your baby. Preparing for a baby is much more than organizing the nursery and the more you understand what happens in your body the more positive your experience tends to be.
The information contained on this site should not be construed as medical advice nor should it replace the advice and individual care of your health care provider.
Hi, I’m Susan Finazzo! I’m a certified Birth Doula, Birth coach, and Childbirth Educator from Port St Lucie, Florida. In addition to that, I am also a Faith-Based Counselor. I have over 10 years experience helping women having a positive birthing experience and would love to make a difference on yours too!