Common Pregnancy Complications: Diagnosis and Symptoms
Pregnancy for most women is a wonderful and beautiful phase in their lives. It is also a time where they are overwhelmed with concerns and worries. Thankfully, most pregnancies complete term without any hitch. However, in some cases, complications can arise that put the life of the mother and child at risk.
Some of these complications occur due to conditions that existed before the pregnancy, others can develop suddenly and are unavoidable.
It can be extremely terrifying to be diagnosed with any sort of complication. And you might even panic thinking that it could have been avoided. These feelings are totally normal. In reality, most of these complications can be treated if they are caught on time. The most important things to be aware of the common complications that can occur during pregnancy, know their symptoms and get timely treatment.
Here we will explore the 5 most common pregnancy complications and the signs that should and should not cause concern by Dr. Deepika Aggarwal, Gynaecologist & Obstetrician at the CK Birla Hospital.
- Hyperemesis Gravidarum
Most of us know about the infamous “morning sickness”. Hyperemesis Gravidarum is morning sickness times 1000. This condition is severe nausea that results in extreme weight loss leading to hospitalization.
The main symptom of hyperemesis Gravidarum is severe nausea and vomiting. This can result in loss of appetite, weight loss and dehydration. The main difference between morning sickness and hyperemesis gravidarum is that you can lose up to 5% of your pregnancy weight.
While you can’t prevent this condition, there are ways to manage it during pregnancy. If you are suffering from this complication, place more focus on making regular prenatal visits. The most important thing to ensure in this condition is that your nutrient intake is sufficient for you and your baby. In some cases, this can be done by simply altering the diet while for others, hospitalisation might be required.
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- Gestational Diabetes
Gestational diabetes is one of the most common complications that can occur during pregnancy. This condition causes the blood sugar levels to rise above normal levels. One of the biggest risks of gestational diabetes is that your baby can grow larger than normal. This condition is called macrosomia and can result in the baby getting stuck in the birth canal.
There are generally no visible symptoms of gestational diabetes. Doctors would check your blood sugar levels during your prenatal visits. High risk women such as women who are overweight or having a history of gestational diabetes should be extra careful and go regularly for their prenatal visits.
You can try to avoid developing this condition by bringing your weight under control before your pregnancy, following a healthy diet and performing regular mild to moderate physical exercise.
You can manage this condition by diet, exercise and in some cases medication (insulin, pills). Remember to consult your doctor before performing any physical activity.
- Placenta previa
Placenta previa is a condition in which the placenta either totally or partially covers the cervix. It can result in severe bleeding during pregnancy and/or during delivery. It is also called low-lying placenta.
Women with scarring in the uterus from previous pregnancies or surgeries are at a greater risk of developing placenta previa. The main symptom of placenta previa is vaginal bleeding. You may or may not experience cramps along with the bleeding. The doctor can confirm diagnosis with an ultrasound.
This condition can’t be prevented. However, you can be in control of this condition by going on regular prenatal visits. There is a high probably you might require a caesarean section to deliver your baby if you have placenta previa.
Preeclampsia is a blood pressure condition that occurs in some pregnancies. It is characterised by dangerously high blood pressure levels that can impact several organ systems. It can be life threatening to both mother and child if left untreated. This complication usually develops after the 20th week of pregnancy and in women with no history of blood pressure.
Common symptoms of preeclampsia are vision changes (blurry or double vision), persistent headache, rapid weight gain, trouble breathing, high blood pressure and pain under the ribs. Preeclampsia is diagnosed by checking for protein in the urine and sometimes liver function test. This is done during your prenatal visits.
Women who are overweight or obese with BMI >30, having a history of high blood pressure, are below the age of 20 years or greater than 40 years are at a higher risk of developing preeclampsia. If you fall in this high risk category, your doctor would keep a closer eye on your pregnancy.
Preeclampsia cannot be prevented entirely. However, you can try to keep your blood pressure under control by following a healthy lifestyle and diet. The condition is treated based on the severity of the condition and the stage of pregnancy.
Women need more iron than usual during pregnancy. If this increased need is not met then they develop iron deficiency anaemia. This is quite common in pregnancies and can result in low birth weight and/or premature birth.
Women with iron deficiency anaemia feel tired, faint, breathless, weak and may look pale.
Doctors manage this condition by either suggesting an alternate diet with iron-rich foods such as leafy vegetables or by adjusting the dosage of prenatal vitamins.
The most important thing to do to maintain a healthy pregnancy is to go on regular prenatal visits and follow the doctor’s advice. Hospitals like the CK Birla Hospital and Cloudnine hospital are some of the best maternity hospitals in Gurgaon. Choose a good maternity doctor early on in the pregnancy so you can start your prenatal care as soon as possible.