Pregnancy is normally a pretty smooth process for most women. You can generally expect most things to go relatively well, but you’ll also have enough notice before something goes wrong if you’re keeping up with your prenatal visits.
There are certain pregnancy complications that occur with more statistical frequency than others. We do screen your health very well to try to catch them in advance whenever possible, but it helps to be aware of them. Dr. Alan Patterson explains more about these more commonly-occurring pregnancy complications.
The risks of pregnancy complications
First of all, it’s important to note that pregnancy complications are still relatively rare. About 92% of pregnancies progress without developing any complications.
Ideally, many of these complications may be preventable. Ensuring that you have a healthy lifestyle before getting pregnant can go a long way. Some of these healthy lifestyle habits include the following:
- Not smoking
- Following a healthy diet
- Getting regular exercise
- Getting 7-8 hours of sleep each night
- Taking care of your mental health
- Limiting alcohol consumption
And of course, the single most important thing you can do for the health of your baby is to get regular prenatal care.
The most common complications
Pregnancy complications may arise suddenly, or they may be predictable. Either way, you shouldn’t feel guilty or responsible if your doctor diagnoses you with a pregnancy complication. It’s not your fault or anything wrong that you did.
The most common pregnancy complications are as follows:
This condition is quite literally like “morning sickness on steroids.” When you have this condition, your nausea and vomiting will often feel completely debilitating. Rarely, your vomiting may become so severe that you may need hospitalization.
Women who have this condition can lose up to 5% of their body weight during pregnancy. You can’t necessarily prevent it, but you can manage it with some help.If you have this not uncommon condition Dr Patterson can prescribe safe anti-nausea medicine for you to take.
Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that develops during your pregnancy. One of the biggest risks is that you’ll have a large baby, a condition called macrosomia. In this condition, your baby may be too large for you to push your baby out and you could end up needing a C-section, or the worst condition would be the baby’s head comes out but the shoulders get stuck, called shoulder dystocia. But if you have Gestational Diabetes, which the standard of care is that all pregnant patients get screened by doing a 1 hr Glucose Tolerance test, then a fasting blood sugar and a 3 hour test, only if the 1 hour test is abnormal, good management of your diabetes can avoid bad complications!
The risk of gestational diabetes increases if you have had the condition in a previous pregnancy or are significantly overweight. In such cases, we may screen you for gestational diabetes earlier in pregnancy than at the 24-28 week point like usual.
If you’ve had gestational diabetes, it does increase the likelihood that you’ll later develop Type 2 diabetes, so continued monitoring will be required, but does not mean you will develop Type 2 diabetes later in life.
Preeclampsia is a condition in which you develop extremely high blood pressure. This can become a life-threatening emergency if not immediately treated. It often appears in women who are otherwise healthy and don’t have a history of blood pressure problems.
Your risks of developing preeclampsia increase if you fit the following criteria:
- Body mass index (BMI) over 30
- A history of high blood pressure
- Age (both teenage mothers and those over 40 are at increased risk)
- Being pregnant with multiples
If you’re at increased risk of developing preeclampsia, you may be advised to take a baby aspirin in early pregnancy.
The placenta is a vital part of creating a healthy baby. It provides oxygen and nourishment to your developing baby. In most pregnancies, the placenta is at the top of your uterus. However, in placenta previa, the placenta covers your cervix, either partially or completely.
You may be at higher risk for placenta previa if you have scarring on your uterus from an earlier pregnancy or if you have fibroids. Often, the only symptom may be spotting or bleeding during pregnancy, so you should ensure that you mention this to Dr. Patterson.
If you’re pregnant, you’re likely already worried about pregnancy complications. The important thing to remember is that the vast majority of pregnancies are complication-free. But if you do develop a complication, we will take care of you and your baby. Contact Dr. Patterson today or request an appointment online.