8 Common Pregnancy Complications to Guard Against
For most women, being pregnant can bring about a feeling that’s next to none. You are filled with untold joy at the new baby developing within you.
However, along with this exhilaration comes that slight tingling fear (that just never goes away) that something just might go wrong. Everything feels just perfect and too good to be true. You fear a little complication might suddenly arise to harm that perfect little bundle growing on the inside of you.
This gnawing fear is not out of place and health experts attribute it to the mother’s innate instinct that seeks to protect her young, even while the baby is still in vitro.
For mothers who have gone on to experience one or more of these pregnancy complications, certain symptoms came with said complications and spelled all was not well.
To guard against any of such incidences, every woman should know the pregnancy complications that could arise in pregnancy; the symptoms to look out for, and what to do if these ever occur.
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8 Most Common Pregnancy Complications to Look Out For
Here are some of the most common pregnancy complications in pregnancy:
1) Spotting During Pregnancy
About 20-30% of pregnant women will have some light spotting during their pregnancy. However, most spotting, especially during the first trimester, is usually no cause for alarm as it’s most times caused by implantation (which occurs when the fertilized egg moves to get implanted on your uterine lining)
Some signs of implantation also called implantation bleeding include:
- A few drops of blood that’s seen when you take a wipe.
- Blood that appears pink, a light red, or dark brown.
- Blood that flows for a few hours to a few days.
- Bleeding happens mostly in the sixth or seventh week of pregnancy.
While implantation bleeding is usually harmless, it is strongly recommended you have any kind of bleeding checked out by your healthcare provider so it gets properly diagnosed.
When Vagina Bleeding Becomes Dangerous
Bleeding in pregnancy becomes dangerous if any of these occur:
- If it appears dark red and comes out in large quantity, usually enough to fill a panty-liner, pad, or tampon.
- If it flows for up to seven days and is accompanied by abdominal cramps.
- If it occurs in the second or third trimesters.
You should have all bleedings checked out immediately, especially if any of the above occurs.
Besides implantation, some other pregnancy-related causes of vagina bleeding include ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage.
2) High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure in pregnancy, also called pregnancy hypertension, is blood pressure that stays at or goes over 130/80 mm Hg. It is usually a serious problem but could be harmless if well managed.
Women who have high blood pressure in pregnancy report experiencing symptoms like persistent headaches, blurry vision, nausea or vomiting, difficulty breathing, and or swellings in the face or hands.
Thankfully, pregnancy hypertension isn’t common and only 5-8% of pregnant women experience it.
Women who are more at risk of developing pregnancy hypertension include:
- Women with unhealthy lifestyle habits like drinking and smoking
- Women who get very little to no exercise.
- Women who are overweight or obese.
- Women with a family history of hypertension.
- Women carrying more than one baby as the body is working extra to sufficiently cater to the needs of all the babies.
- Women who are above 35 years of age.
- Women who are first-time moms.
When High Blood Pressure in Pregnancy Becomes Dangerous
While no symptom of high blood pressure in pregnancy should be overlooked, some can be managed and usually pose no lasting danger to the mother or child. A few others like chronic hypertension with superimposed preeclampsia and preeclampsia could be dangerous for you and your growing baby.
Chronic hypertension (hypertension that occurs before your pregnancy or within 20 weeks of it) and gestational hypertension (hypertension that occurs at the later stage of your pregnancy after 20 weeks) mostly go away after delivery.
Some complications of hypertension in pregnancy include:
- For the mother, there’s the risk of hypertension developing into preeclampsia, which is one of the more dangerous pregnancy complications.
- Dangers of placenta abruption could be life-threatening for your baby.
- The risk of developing stroke.
For your baby, high blood pressure in pregnancy could affect your baby’s weight. She gets less blood flowing to her, which invariably means she gets less oxygen and nutrients coming her way. This low birth weight could in turn pose some health challenges later on like a breathing problem or a high risk of coming down with infections.
How to Prevent High Blood Pressure in Pregnancy
To avoid coming down with hypertension while pregnant, you should ensure you live a healthier lifestyle and this includes:
- Taking in enough water; at least eight glasses daily.
- Staying physically active.
- Eat more healthy meals like protein and less junk food.
- Ensure you get enough rest.
- Take in salt and other strong spices only as needed.
- Ensure you stay faithful to your antenatal visits.
3) Gestational Diabetes
Gestational diabetes is yet another pregnancy complication to look out for and as a pregnant woman, you will get tested for it during one of your antenatal appointments.
Gestational diabetes happens when your body fails to produce enough insulin to regulate the sugar in your blood and 2-5% of pregnant women get diagnosed with it yearly.
Although not quite common, certain factors place you at risk of gestational diabetes like:
- Being 35 years and above.
- Having a family history of it.
- Being overweight.
- And being of certain descents (Black, American Indian, Hispanic, or Asian).
Gestational diabetes, if not well managed could lead to the following complications:
- A high risk of birthing through a caesarian section due to your baby being extra large.
- Being at risk of developing high blood pressure or preeclampsia.
- Being at risk of developing diabetes in the future.
- Having your baby born prematurely.
- Having a baby who would be at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes in the future.
Symptoms of Gestational Diabetes
Some symptoms of gestational diabetes to look out for include frequent urination, having a high amount of sugar in your urine, constant thirst, constant fatigue, blurred vision, and an increased risk of vagina infections.
Gestational diabetes usually can be managed by monitoring your blood glucose and ensuring it’s at the right level. A good way to achieve this is to eat healthily and also work with your do for on the right exercise plan to keep you active.
Preeclampsia is high blood pressure that begins from the 20th week of pregnancy. It is usually fatal for both mother and child and should therefore be monitored closely.
Health complications of preeclampsia include:
- Having a baby with low birth weight.
- Having your baby born preterm.
- Having a high risk of placenta abruption or eclampsia.
- The risk of other organs like your liver, kidney, heart, and your eyes getting damaged.
- The risk of developing stroke.
Some risks factors of preeclampsia include being obese, being of black descent, being 35 years and above, having a history of diabetes, multiple pregnancies, being pregnant in your teens and being pregnant for the first time.
There are certain symptoms your doctor will look out for if he suspects you might be having preeclampsia like having excess protein in your urine, severe and constant headache, seedlings in your legs and hands, nausea accompanied by vomiting (or not), shortness of breath, pain in your upper right abdomen, and a problem in your liver.
There is no known cure for preeclampsia, but it can be adequately managed, leading to no lasting effect for you or your baby, especially if caught on time.
Women diagnosed with preeclampsia are usually induced if the pregnancy has gotten to 37 weeks to avoid further health complications. However, if the pregnancy is not termed, the mother and child are closely monitored to prevent any further pregnancy complications coming up.
5) Preterm Labour
The average duration of pregnancy ranges from 37 to 42 weeks. Babies born before 37 weeks are said to be premature and could go on to have certain health complications.
Preterm labour is not a very common occurrence, however, expecting mothers at risk include:
- Women who are overweight or underweight
- Women with other pregnancy complications like preeclampsia, diabetes, and hypertension.
- Having other medical conditions like kidney or heart-related problems.
- Having a short interval between your last delivery and the current.
- Certain infections
- The use of certain drugs like cocaine
- Unhealthy lifestyle habits like smoking or drinking
- Not taking your prenatal
- Having multiple pregnancies
- A history of preterm delivery
- Having an incompetent cervix
- Having an abnormally shaped uterus
Preterm labour is especially bad for your baby as babies born too early have organs that aren’t mature enough to function outside their mother’s womb.
Besides such respiratory problems, preterm babies would also have low birth weight and other afterbirth complications like the inability to regulate body temperature, the inability to regulate blood pressure, and a low heart rate.
Luckily, there’s been some tremendous improvement in maternal and child healthcare and more and more preterm babies are surviving their early births.
However, it is still strongly recommended pregnant women guide against preterm labour by looking out for preterm labour symptoms such as menstrual cramps, strong contractions that come at a fixed interval, backache, vomiting, more vagina bleeding, water breaking, and cervical dilation and seeing a doctor immediately.
Healthcare providers are usually well prepared for such situations and would recommend the right medication for the situation, some of which might include bed rest, antibiotics for infections, medications to stop the contractions, medications to hasten your baby’s lung development, hospitalization, and strict monitoring, and the use of cervical cerclage to close up the cervix.
6) Hyperemesis Gravidarum
Hyperemesis gravidarum is a morning sickness that is so severe, it could lead to dehydration and extreme weight loss and is characterized by nausea and constant vomiting.
Most cases of hyperemesis gravidarum usually go away by the 20th week of pregnancy, but a few could continue up until the end of it.
Hyperemesis has no known cure, but can be managed by taking in enough liquid to replace the one lost and eating bland meals like toast, crackers, potato chips, pretzels, among others.
There is no known cause of hyperemesis gravidarum, but it is believed women who have a history of it are more at risk. Other risk factors include first pregnancy, being overweight, and carrying multiple pregnancies.
7) Placenta Previa
Placenta previa is a fairly uncommon pregnancy complication, affecting less than one percent of pregnant women. It also could be a fairly innocent condition if it happens early on in your pregnancy. However, placenta prevails that happens later on in your pregnancy could cause some very serious problems for you and your baby.
Placenta previa could cause bleeding in the latter part of your pregnancy and this is usually the most noticeable symptom to look out for. However, not all women experience this as one-third of women with placenta previa have reported not having any symptoms to indicate the presence of the condition.
Luckily, this condition, as well as any pregnancy complications that might exist get picked up during your antenatal appointments and the corresponding treatment started, which is why pregnant women are strongly advised not to miss any if they can.
Miscarriage is pregnancy loss that occurs before the 20th week. It is quite common as an estimated 10-20% of pregnancies end before the 20th week.
Most miscarriages happen earlier on in the pregnancy as 8 out of 10 miscarriages occur in the first trimester.
Most miscarriages happen due to no fault of the woman and there is very little you could have done to prevent it.
Some common causes of miscarriages include:
- The fertilized egg having an abnormal number of chromosomes after fertilization.
A healthy egg should have 46 chromosomes upon fertilization(23 each from both the woman and man). Having less than or more than 46 results in an egg that is not viable.
- Certain health conditions like severe diabetes, kidney disease, thyroid disease, and hypertension.
- A serious and often untreated infection.
- The use of certain medications like retinoids, misoprostol, and methotrexate.
- Blighted ovum.
- An abnormally shaped uterus
- Hormonal irregularities.
- An incompetent cervix.
- Food poisoning