Symptoms and Complications of Pregnancy
During pregnancy, some women face some health issues. These issues might affect either the mother's or the fetus's. Even women who were healthy before getting pregnant can experience complications. Because of these complications, the pregnancy may be classified as high-risk.
Getting early and regular prenatal care can help decrease the risk for problems by enabling health care providers to diagnose, treat, or manage conditions before they become serious. Prenatal care can also help identify mental health concerns related to pregnancy, such as anxiety and depression.
- Common Pregnancy Symptoms: You may experience nausea, tiredness, headaches, mild aches, heartburn, constipation or haemorrhoids. Most are normal and will not harm you or your baby, however if they are becoming severe and causing you to worry then please discuss with the doctor or the nurse. Changes in mood and sex drive are also common. If you feel you develop symptoms of antenatal depression then please see your doctor. It is safe to have sex in pregnancy unless you have been specifically advised against it.
- Abdominal Pain: You may experience mild pain or discomfort due to your body changing shape. If you experience severe pain, or pain with vaginal bleeding/reduced fetal movements then please contact the doctor and report to the hospital immediately. Sometimes abdominal pain can be a sign of a urinary tract infection so if you feel an increased urge to pass urine frequently or pain when urinating, please provide a urine sample.
- Vaginal Bleeding: Any vaginal bleeding should be reported immediately to the hospital. You will be advised to stay in the hospital until the bleeding has stopped. Bleeding can come from the placenta (which provides oxygen for the baby). Rarely this may be an abruption, which is where the placenta separates from the uterus. This can cause serious risks to the mother and baby.
- Abnormal Vaginal Discharge: During pregnancy it is normal for there to be increased vaginal discharge. It is usual for this to be clear or white and not smell unpleasant. If discharge changes colour to yellow or green, smells unpleasant or causes you to become sore and itchy, then please speak to your doctor/nurse.
- Diabetes: Some women may develop gestational diabetes whilst pregnant. This causes a higher amount of glucose in the blood which then crosses the placenta and can cause baby to grow large (macrosomic). Ensuring your blood glucose levels remain within normal limits can prevent problems for you and your baby. Gestational diabetes usually disappears after pregnancy. You can reduce your risk by ensuring your BMI is normal, regular exercise, as well as a healthy diet and lifestyle.
- High Blood Pressure: During pregnancy blood becomes thicker and therefore can increase maternal blood pressure. If you experience severe headaches, blurred vision, epigastric pain, vomiting or swelling then this can be sign of a condition known as pre eclampsia. Your urine will be tested for protein to confirm this. Pre eclampsia in severe form can lead to fits, causing problems for both mother and baby. Women who develop high blood pressure will require medication. If you develop any of these symptoms then you need to contact your doctor and attend the hospital immediately.
- Thrombosis: During pregnancy your body has more clotting factors. Therefore all pregnant women are at a slightly increased risk of developing blood clots whilst pregnant and for the first weeks in the postnatal period. This risk is further increased if you have a raised BMI >30, maternal age > 35, smoke or have a family history of thrombosis. If you have any pain, redness, inflammation or swelling in your legs, or pain in your chest, please inform your doctor and attend the hospital immediately.
- Intrahepatic Cholestasis: This is known as obstetric cholestasis, which is a liver condition in pregnancy that can cause itching, especially on the soles of your hands and feet. Having this condition can put you at greater risk of having a stillbirth. A blood test can be taken to check if you have this condition and if the results confirm this then your doctor will discuss treatment with you. Please monitor fetal movements carefully if you develop this condition.
- Prematurity: Premature labour is classified as delivery before 37 weeks gestation. If this occurs before 34 weeks gestation then you will be advised to have steroid injections (Dexamethasone or Betamethasone) within 24 hours, to help the baby's lung mature. In this time the obstetrician may try to stop labour with treatment, for these steroids to take effect. However once in established labour it is difficult to stop. Babies born below 37 weeks gestation may need to be transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for help with breathing, feeding and keeping warm.
- Breech: Some babies present with their bottom first. This is known as breech presentation. Therefore there is an increased chance that complications may arise during labour. From 36 weeks gestation a procedure called ECV (External Cephalic Version) can be attempted to turn the baby, however it is not always successful. Your doctor will discuss both normal vaginal delivery and planned elective caesarean section with you, for you to decide which mode of delivery is most suitable.
- Infections: When pregnant you are at a higher risk of developing infections due to the changes in your immune system. If you experience any of the following symptoms then please contact your doctor and attend the hospital: - body temperature >38C, fever and chills, foul smelling vaginal discharge, pain or increased frequency when passing urine, abdominal pain, diarrhoea and vomiting, sore throat or respiratory infection. Wherever possible keep away from people with an infection, diarrhoea or vomiting.