by Shannon Bartlett
Health problems that occur during pregnancy can affect the mother's health, the baby's health or both. The good news is that many of these complications can be successfully treated or prevented.
A safe and healthy pregnancy begins before your positive pregnancy test. Improving your diet, getting control of any chronic conditions and making lifestyle changes help prevent pregnancy complications.
Even when you're in good health, unexpected health problems can crop up during pregnancy. Here's what you can do if you encounter on of these common complications.
If you're bleeding heavily, have severe cramps and feel like you're going to faint, you could have an ectopic pregnancy. Heavy bleeding of cramping might signal a miscarriage. Other types of bleeding resolve on their own. Almost half of the women who experience bleeding during early pregnancy go on to have full-term babies.
If you start bleeding, call your doctor or midwife or go the the emergency room as soon as possible.
An ectopic pregnancy implants outside the uterus. It can be life-threatening.
Women who have had a sexually transmitted disease, such as chlamydia, or an infection, such as pelvic inflammatory disease are at an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy.
Miscarriage is the most common type of pregnancy loss. ACOG known as the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, estimates that up to 25 percent of diagnosed pregnancies end in miscarriages. Most miscarriages are thought to be caused by chromosomal abnormalities and not by something that the mother happened to do.
Severe nausea and vomiting can endanger both you and your baby. If you can't eat or drink anything, you run the risk of becoming dehydrated and malnourished. Your midwife or doctor can prescribe medication to help counter the nausea.
Gestational diabetes affects up to 10 percent of pregnancy in the United States. It can lead to additional complications for you and your baby. You'll be offered a screening test during your second trimester. Most women can control their blood sugar levels by following a healthy meal plan and moderate exercise.
High blood pressure, swelling of the hands and face, protein in the urine, headaches and blurred vision signal preeclampsia. If you're near term, your provider might suggest induction. If it's too early to deliver, your doctor will monitor you and your baby's health closely. Recent research could improve treatment within a few years.
Severe and persistent nausea and vomiting can result in low pregnancy weight gain and associated complications for you and your baby. Nutritional counseling, medication and home monitoring help some women. Others require hospitalization for fluids and nutrients. Often hyperemesis eases up around 20 weeks, but some women vomit and feel nauseated all three trimesters (our sympathies!).