The Most Frequent Health Problems in Pregnancy

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Every one of us is on this planet as the result of a successful pregnancy. Pregnancy is a normal, natural occurrence, part of the essential rhythm of life. That doesn’t mean that everything always goes as planned. Pregnancy can be tough, mentally and physically. Some expectant parents like to know what could go wrong, so they feel more prepared to face issues if they come up. If that’s you, read on to learn about some common heath problems in pregnancy.

Minor Health Problems

Growing a human from scratch takes a lot of work! Whether you have an easy or more complicated pregnancy, you’re likely to face at least a few symptoms sometime in the next 9 months. Most of these are more annoying than dangerous, although it’s always wise to bring up discomfort with your doctor at prenatal visits:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Heartburn
  • Indigestion
  • Inflamed nasal passages
  • Bloody nose
  • Fatigue
  • Cramps
  • Back pain
  • Frequent urination

More Serious Complications in Pregnancy

A complication doesn’t automatically bump your…bump…up to a “high-risk” pregnancy. And many people with high-risk pregnancies go on to deliver healthy babies and recover well from pregnancy and giving birth. If you develop any of the following conditions, though, you may need some extra attention from your doctor and support from your loved ones to have the healthiest pregnancy possible:

  • Hypertension: Hypertension, or high blood pressure, occurs in 1 in every 12 to 17 pregnancies. It’s more likely if you had high blood pressure before pregnancy. It can lead to preeclampsia or preterm delivery. Talk to your doctor about safe medications to manage blood pressure in pregnancy.
  • Gestational diabetes (GD): Even people without prior history of diabetes can develop this condition in pregnancy. About 7% of pregnant people develop GD. It’s usually managed either by diet, or diet changes along with medication to regulate blood sugar.
  • Preeclampsia: About 2-8% of pregnancies develop preeclampsia, a high blood pressure-related condition that affects organs like your liver or kidneys. It’s more common if you’re over 35, carrying more than one baby, or have another condition. Your doctor will monitor you closely, as this condition can lead to other serious conditions for you and your baby. It might be necessary to deliver your baby early if your preeclampsia worsens past a certain point.

Health Problems with Embryo and Fetus

Most people think of the parent when they imagine pregnancy complications. There are conditions that affect the developing baby as well. Some of the most common include:

  • Miscarriage: It feels strange to think of miscarriage as a condition, since it of course cannot be treated after the loss is discovered. It’s important to speak openly about the fact that roughly 25% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, usually very early in the pregnancy. It is usually due to genetic abnormalities than couldn’t be foreseen or prevented. If you have experienced a miscarriage, it’s important for you to know that you are not alone, the miscarriage was almost certainly not due to something you did or failed to do, and that most people who have a miscarriage are able to have a successful pregnancy and healthy baby.
  • Preterm birth: Preterm birth is when a baby is born before 37 weeks of gestation. Being born too early can lead to various health problems, some short-term and others that may be lifelong. The earlier a baby is born, the greater the chances tend to be that they will face more serious challenges. About 10% of babies are born prematurely. Avoiding drugs and alcohol, and getting regular prenatal care, are some of the best strategies you can take to reduce your chances of giving birth too early.

Many pregnancies, including pregnancies with common complications, end with a happy new addition to your family. Being open with your doctor about any health concerns during your pregnancy will help you get the best support possible.

Jessica Sillers
Jessica Sillers is a parenting and finance writer whose work has been featured in Pregnancy & Newborn, Headspace, and more. As a new mom herself, she’s passionate about helping other parents find the community and support they need. When she’s not writing, she loves spending time with her family, reading, and hiking.

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