Pregnancy: Health Issues, Symptoms, and Complications

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pregnancy health issues

Find out if you’re at risk for complications.

Pregnancy is an exciting time for both mother and baby. It’s also a time of change for the body.

During pregnancy, women often experience physical changes such as swelling, bloating, and increased appetite. They may also experience emotional changes such as feeling anxious, nervous, excited, or happy.

While these changes are regular during pregnancy, they can sometimes cause discomfort and lead to health issues. Several common pregnancy complications can affect both mom and baby.

Here are some of the most common pregnancy complications.

What are some risks and health issues during pregnancy?

1. Preeclampsia

This condition occurs in about 5% of pregnancies. Women with preeclampsia have high blood pressure after 20 weeks of gestation. This usually happens before labor begins. If left untreated, it could result in seizures, stroke, liver problems, kidney failure, premature delivery, or death.

2. Gestational diabetes

Gestational diabetes affects up to 10% of pregnant women. The disease causes your pancreas to produce too much insulin. Insulin helps control sugar levels in the bloodstream. When gestational diabetes develops, this excess production of insulin results in higher than usual glucose levels in the blood. You’ll need regular checkups throughout your pregnancy to monitor your blood sugar level.

3. Preterm birth

Preterm births occur when babies are born earlier than 37 weeks gestation. Babies who survive preterm deliveries face developmental delays and other long-term medical conditions. About one-third of all infants delivered prematurely die within their rst year of life.

4. Placenta previa

Placenta previa is another complication associated with early childbirth. With placenta previa, the placental tissue covers the cervix completely. As a result, the uterus cannot be fully expanded during labor. A cesarean section must then be performed.

5. Low birth weight

Low birth weight means less than 2,500 grams.

6. Stillbirth

Still born are newborns whose bodies do not breathe or move after 24 weeks of gestation.

Approximately 1 in every 200 live births ends in stillbirth. Most stillbirths happen between 22 and 28weeks gestation. Some factors contributing to stillbirth include maternal infections, bleeding disorders, heart defects, chromosomal abnormalities, and drug use.

7. Congenital anomalies

Congenital anomalies are structural or functional deviations from the norm present at birth. These variations are caused by genetic mutations, environmental toxins, or errors made during cell division. An example of a congenital anomaly would be Down syndrome, linked to exposure to certain pesticides like DDT.8. Premature rupture of membranes

Premature ruptures of membranes refer to leaking amniotic fluid before 39 weeks gestation.

Amniotic fluid surrounds the fetus inside the womb. Leaking amniotic fluid increases the chance of infection and miscarriage.

9. Ectopic pregnancy

Ectopic pregnancies occur when fertilized eggs implant outside the uterine cavity. One type of ectopic pregnancy involves the fallopian tube, where the egg implants on its own. Another form of ectopic pregnancy involves implantation into the endometrial lining of the uterus itself. Both types of ectopic pose severe threats to a woman’s fertility because they increase the chances of spontaneous abortion.

10. Polyhydramnios

Polyhydramnios is an excessive amount of amniotic fluid that can lead to fetal distress. Its most common symptom is the increased size of the baby due to extra fluid around the body. Other symptoms may include difficulty breathing, jaundice, enlarged head circumference, and poor feeding.

11. Meconium staining

Meconium staining is the presence of meconium in the stool. In normal cases, meconium appears as dark brown spots. However, if there is more than 3 hours delay between passing urine and defecating, meconium will appear as bright red streaks through feces.

12. Neonatal abstinence syndrome

Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome is characterized by withdrawal symptoms experienced by a neonate shortly after being removed from their mother’s breast milk. NAS typically presents within 72 hours of birth. Common signs and symptoms include tremors, irritability, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, sleepiness, sweating, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, and irregular heartbeat.

13. Hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia is low blood sugar. During pregnancy, hypoglycemia can cause brain damage in the unborn child.

The condition occurs when glucose levels drop below 50 mg/dl. Signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia include headache, confusion, seizures, palpitations, anxiety, nausea, shakiness, dizziness, weakness, tingling sensations, cold sweats, rapid pulse rate, and fainting spells.

14. Hyperbilirubinemia

Hyperbilirubinemia is a high bilirubin level in the bloodstream. Bilirubin is produced naturally by the liver and released into bile. High bilirubin levels indicate potential problems with the development of the placenta and fetus. If left untreated, hyperbilirubinemia could result in kernicterus, a neurological disorder that causes severe mental retardation.

15. Preterm labor

Preterm labor happens before 37 completed weeks of gestation. This complication usually results from premature contractions of the cervix. Women who have had preterm deliveries tend to experience recurrent miscarriages.

How to stay away or prevent yourself from these health issues during pregnancy?

Avoid alcohol consumption. Alcohol has been proven to be harmful to both you and your baby.

Consuming too much alcohol increases the risk of miscarriage and still birth.

Eat healthy food. The nutrition requirement of a pregnant woman differs according to her age, weight gain, and stage of pregnancy. It would be best if you ate a well-balanced diet. A balanced diet should contain all the essential nutrients such as protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, calcium, iron, etc., which are necessary for the incredible growth and development of the fetus.

Take prenatal care. Prenatal checkups help detect any complications early. Early detection allows doctors to provide treatment right away. Doctors also make sure that everything is going smoothly inside the womb.

Avoid smoking. Smoking harms not only the smoker but also those around them. It may damage the developing organs of the infant. There is also an increased chance of miscarriage due to nicotine exposure.

Take rest. Try to take at least 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep every day. Stressful situations like working late nights, long commutes, and other responsibilities can affect your sleeping pattern.

Lack of proper sleep can lead to various physical ailments, including heartburns, indigestion, constipation, headaches, backaches, muscle aches, insomnia, and depression. So try to get some quality time off from work and enjoy life!

Regular exercise helps keep stress under control. Exercise improves circulation, boosts metabolism, strengthens muscles and bones, reduces body fat, and keeps joints exible. Regular activities also help maintain balance while walking. Walking helps reduce fatigue and increase energy.

Get enough sunlight. Sunlight provides vitamin D, one of the most essential supplements needed by babies.

Take care of yourself as well as the baby in the womb and enjoy the process.

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