Bringing life to the world also brings about pregnancy complications. Find out what challenges you may face and be prepared to deal with them in this article.
In this article:
- What Are Pregnancy Complications?
- At Which Age Do Pregnancy Complications Start?
- What Are the Most Common Pregnancy Complications?
- Are There Any Rare Pregnancy Complications?
- How to Reduce Pregnancy Complications?
- How Can I Prevent a Miscarriage in the First Month?
- What Are the Signs of a Healthy Pregnancy?
- What Makes You a High-Risk Pregnancy?
- Can Stress Cause Pregnancy Complications?
- When Should I Go to the ER During Pregnancy?
- What Can Cause Death During Pregnancy?
- What Are the Most Dangerous Weeks of Pregnancy?
- Can Flu During Pregnancy Cause Birth Defects?
- Does Vomiting During Pregnancy Hurt the Baby?
- Can PCOS Cause Pregnancy Complications?
Common Questions and Concerns About Pregnancy Complications
What Are Pregnancy Complications?
Pregnancy complications are health problems which occur during pregnancy. These complications normally involve the health of the baby, the mother, or both.
Some women may have health conditions before pregnancy which can lead to complications. Other pregnancy issues can occur during pregnancy.
At Which Age Do Pregnancy Complications Start?
Pregnancy complications can occur at any age, but the risk is higher for older mothers. A pregnant woman at age 30 or higher can be at increased risk for birth defects and miscarriage.
Other pregnancy complications which can occur at this age are:
- Gestational diabetes
- Difficult labors
- High blood pressure
What is gestational diabetes? This condition happens when a pregnant woman has high blood sugar level during pregnancy. Not producing enough insulin (hormone that control blood sugar level) is the cause.
If you’re pregnant and over 30 years of age, it’s best to discuss health plans with your doctor. They can help you and your developing baby maintain a healthy pregnancy.
What Are the Most Common Pregnancy Complications?
Your midwife or doctor will be watching for these common pregnancy complications. They’ll assess your health with ultrasounds, lab tests, and physical exams.
- Miscarriage: Miscarriage is the loss of pregnancy in the first 20 weeks. Most miscarriages in the first trimester may be caused by abnormalities in the fertilized egg’s chromosomes. This keeps the embryo from developing.
- Gestational Diabetes: This pregnancy complication involves high blood sugar. It develops during pregnancy and normally disappears after the woman gives birth.
- Low Amniotic Fluid (Oligohydramnios): The amniotic sac is filled with fluid which supports and protects your developing baby. Oligohydramnios is a pregnancy complication in which there’s too little fluid.
- Preeclampsia: The presence of protein in the urine and high blood pressure signify preeclampsia.
- Placenta Previa: This means the placenta is lying low in the uterus, either next to or covering the cervix. If the placenta remains low as the pregnancy progresses, this condition can cause bleeding.
- Ectopic Pregnancy: This pregnancy complication occurs when a fertilized egg implants outside of the uterus. The growing embryo can rupture your fallopian tube causing internal bleeding.
- Premature Labor and Birth: Regular contractions which cause your cervix to open before week 37 of pregnancy means you’re in premature labor. Delivering a baby before the 37th week is a preterm birth and the baby is premature.
Are There Any Rare Pregnancy Complications?
A few women experience these rare pregnancy complications. Sometimes, they come with the risk of stillbirth.
- Fetal Hydrothorax: This is when an abnormal amount of fluid forms within the chest of a developing fetus. This condition compresses the lungs of the fetus which interferes with their development. The lungs won’t enable normal oxygen intake for the fetus.
- Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome: TTTS is a rare pregnancy condition which affects twins or other multiple fetuses. It occurs where twins share one placenta after birth. They also share a network of blood vessels which supply oxygen needed for proper growth. These are monochorionic pregnancies.
- Lower Urinary Tract Obstruction: Lower urinary tract obstruction or LUTO is a rare fetal complication. It occurs when there’s a blockage in the flow of urine when it exits the body. Problems with fetal chromosomes or a genetic disorder can cause LUTO.
- Amniotic Band Syndrome: This occurs when the amnion, the inner layer of the placenta, gets damaged. Amniotic bands, thin strands of tissue, form inside the amnion and can tangle around the fetus. Blood flow becomes restricted, affecting the development of body parts.
- Twin Reversed Arterial Perfusion: Also called TRAP sequence, this is a rare pregnancy condition of monochorionic twins. It occurs when the cardiac system of one twin supplies blood for both twins.
- Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia: CDH occurs when the diaphragm of the developing fetus has a hole. When the hole forms, the stomach, the bowel, and even the liver can move into its chest cavity.
- Twin Anemia Polycythemia Sequence: TAPS is a rare fetal condition which occurs when the twins in the womb have unequal blood counts.
- Selective Intrauterine Growth Restriction: This is a condition which can occur in monochorionic pregnancies. The placenta is not evenly apportioned between the fetuses. This imbalance causes one twin to become malnourished.
How to Reduce Pregnancy Complications?
The most important thing to do for a healthy pregnancy is getting adequate prenatal care. Prenatal care best begins even before pregnancy.
Your doctor can check you for risk factors for pregnancy complications. They’ll also discuss potential precautions to take.
You can also do the following to help prevent complications.
- Quit smoking: Lighting up may trigger preterm labor.
- Brush and floss your teeth: Researchers found a link between preterm birth and gum disease.
- Relax from stress: When you have elevated stress levels for long periods of time, your hormones can affect many body functions.
How Can I Prevent a Miscarriage in the First Month?
A miscarriage results from a genetic abnormality in the fetus. There is no definite way to prevent a miscarriage, but there are many precautions you can take to decrease the risks.
Take control of your health with exercise, a healthy diet, and proper sleep. Also, make sure to check in with your doctor so they can monitor you and your baby’s health.
What Are the Signs of a Healthy Pregnancy?
The first way to know if your baby is healthy is if your mind and body are healthy. Here are the signs to look out for to know your pregnancy is well and healthy:
- Weight gain
- Placenta stays inside and attached to the uterus
- Proper growth of the fetus
- Fetal movements
- Optimal levels of estrogen and progesterone
- Right blood sugar and blood pressure levels
What Makes You a High-Risk Pregnancy?
A high-risk pregnancy involves complications which could affect the health of the baby, the mother, or both. A specialist will need to manage and monitor a high-risk pregnancy.
They can help ensure the best outcome for both baby and mother. These are the factors of a high-risk pregnancy:
- Maternal age – The risk of genetic defects and miscarriage increases for expectant mothers after age 40.
- Mother’s medical conditions present before pregnancy
- Medical conditions which occur during pregnancy
- Multiple Births – This means the mother is carrying more than one baby.
- Placenta previa – This is a condition where the placenta covers the cervix.
Can Stress Cause Pregnancy Complications?
- Baby’s low birth weight
- Preterm birth
- Behavioral or sleep disorders in young children
The effects of chronic stress on a developing fetus are minimal. A pregnant woman tends to suffer the effects much more than the baby does.
When Should I Go to the ER During Pregnancy?
There are some instances during pregnancy which call for a visit to the emergency room. If any of the following situations occur, it’s best to head to the hospital immediately:
- pain or pressure in your chest
- loss of consciousness
- severe abdominal pain
- signs of miscarriage
- signs of preterm labor in the second trimester
- heavy vaginal bleeding
- severe headaches, especially if accompanied by blurred vision
What Can Cause Death During Pregnancy?
Maternal death or maternal mortality is when a woman dies from pregnancy-related causes. These are the leading causes of maternal mortality.
- Postpartum Hemorrhage: This is the excessive loss of blood or bleeding after childbirth.
- Eclampsia and High Blood Pressure: Without proper care, hypertensive disorders can become dangerous and can lead to death.
- Infection: Expectant mothers can get an infection from an unsanitary delivery, very long labor, or unsafe abortion.
- Pulmonary Embolism: A blood clot in the lungs is a pulmonary embolism. It can develop after delivery.
What Are the Most Dangerous Weeks of Pregnancy?
The highest risk period during pregnancy is between 4 and 6 weeks. When the pregnancy reaches 8 or 9 weeks and the baby’s heartbeat can be seen on a scan, there is only a 5% chance of miscarriage.
The risk drops to between 5% and 8% and continues to drop as the journey of pregnancy proceeds.
Can Flu During Pregnancy Cause Birth Defects?
The influenza virus itself will not cause birth defects, but contracting a high fever early on in pregnancy can increase the risk of birth defects.
Does Vomiting During Pregnancy Hurt the Baby?
Vomiting doesn’t harm the fetus. If it happens excessively, this condition is hyperemesis gravidarum.
What is hyperemesis gravidarum? This is a condition where a pregnant woman suffers from severe nausea and vomiting that leads to weight loss and disturbance in electrolytes.
The bigger danger here is dehydration. Dehydration causes problems with the health of the fetus and the mother.
Can PCOS Cause Pregnancy Complications?
Having Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) may increase your risks of complications during pregnancy, such as:
- Premature birth
- Gestational diabetes
- High blood pressure
Expectant mothers who have PCOS are more likely to have a cesarean delivery. Their babies can be larger than expected for their gestational age.
The babies of mothers with PCOS also have a greater risk of death during delivery or being admitted to the newborn intensive care unit.
Bleeding during pregnancy is one of the most common pregnancy complications. To know more, watch this video from Manipal Hospitals:
Pregnancy complications can vary in nature and severity. With proper care and medical advice, you can manage most of these complications.
Pregnancy is a daunting journey which requires paying extra attention to your well-being to ensure your baby is born healthy.
Do you have any anecdotes to share about your pregnancy? Share your stories with us in the comments section below!