Every woman has a unique pregnancy experience. This is primarily because every individual has a different medical history, diet, exercise routine and overall constitution, and all of these have a role to play in your pregnancy too. This is also the reason why some women experience severe symptoms during pregnancy while others may not even get any morning sickness at any given point.
What every woman who’s expecting should know about and take precautions against are complications of pregnancy. As per the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), even women who were absolutely healthy before getting pregnant may face complications. Nobody wishes for complications in life but when there’s even a little risk of having such issues that may affect the health of both mother and baby, it’s important to be forewarned and cautious. The following are six key complications of pregnancy every mom-to-be should be aware of and take preventive measures against.
1. High blood pressure: Also known as gestational hypertension, high blood pressure during pregnancy may show up during the second trimester and resolve after childbirth. The body pumps more blood during pregnancy to supply oxygen and nutrients to the baby in the womb via the placenta and if there’s any disruption in this blood supply, it can slow the growth of the baby, jeopardize its health and cause further complications like preeclampsia and preterm labour. Frequent blood pressure checks, a healthy pregnancy diet with controlled salt intake and exercise may keep this complication at bay.
2. Gestational diabetes: While it usually resolves within a few months after you deliver your baby, gestational diabetes can have severe repercussions on your health as well as that of your baby. If not controlled, gestational diabetes can lead to gestational hypertension, preeclampsia, premature labour and excessive weight gain during pregnancy. Consulting a doctor for a proper treatment plan is important.
3. Infections: Pregnant women may be immunocompromised and therefore more susceptible to infections. This includes urinary tract, bladder, kidney and sexually transmitted infections. Taking stringent precautions against these infections is necessary since there’s a risk of passing them on to the baby in utero or right after birth. Talk to your doctor if you suspect you have an infection and they will be able to provide medications which are safe for consumption during pregnancy.
4. Preeclampsia: Health issues like hypertension, diabetes, kidney disease, lupus, older maternal age, obesity and carrying twins or more babies in the womb increases the risk of preeclampsia. This is a severe complication of pregnancy which can at best lead to preterm birth and at worse cause loss of the fetus. If any symptoms of preeclampsia like severe abdominal pain, headaches or blurred vision show up, it’s important to visit the doctor immediately.
5. Premature labour: Labour before the completion of the 37th week of pregnancy is known as premature labour. A weak cervix, infections, preeclampsia and placenta praevia can cause premature labour and birth. A baby born prematurely is also known as a preemie and these babies may not only have a lower birth weight and slower development but might also face a higher risk of diseases for the rest of their lives. Precautions against premature labour should therefore be taken very seriously.
6. Miscarriage and stillbirth: The spontaneous loss of pregnancy before in the first 20 weeks is known as a miscarriage, while stillbirth refers to the loss of foetus after 20 weeks. This complication may be caused by a number of risk factors, including poor foetal growth, placental abnormalities, infections, chromosomal abnormalities, maternal health, etc. Avoiding miscarriage or stillbirth is not completely under your control and can be very traumatic for expecting parents. Appropriate counselling and care are recommended for those who experience either of these issues.
For more information, read our article on Pregnancy.
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