Mother problems

Material on this page is courtesy of March of Dimes (adapted for Kosovo)

Throughout pregnancy, go to all your prenatal care checkups, even if you’re feeling fine. Getting regular prenatal care can help you spot complications early—and maybe even prevent them.

Learn about pregnancy complications, including anemia, gestational diabetes and high blood pressure here. If you have one of these conditions, work with your doctor to keep them under control.

And if you had certain health complications before pregnancy, like preexisting diabetes or depression, find out what you can do to help you stay healthy during pregnancy. There also are ways you can protect yourself from common infections, like the flu and food poisoning, which can cause problems during pregnancy.

We have included details about the most common pregnancy complications here. For a more detailed list (in English only), click here to visit March of Dimes.

Amniotic fluid levels

Sometimes women will have too much or too little amniotic fluid. Amniotic fluid is the fluid that surrounds your baby in your uterus (womb). It’s very important for your baby’s development.

Too little fluid (Oligohydramnios)

About 4% of pregnant women have oligohydramnios. It can happen at any time during pregnancy, but it’s most common in the last trimester (last 3 months). If you notice that you are leaking fluid from your vagina, tell your doctor. It may be a sign of oligohydramnios. Your doctor watches out for other signs, such as if you’re not gaining enough weight or if the baby isn’t growing as fast as he should. An ultrasound measure the amount of amniotic fluid. It’s important to get this checked as it can cause birth defects, miscarriage, premature birth and stillbirth.

Sometimes the causes of oligohydramnios are not known. Some known causes are:

  • Health problems, such as high blood pressure or preexisting diabetes (having too much sugar in the blood before pregnancy)
  • Certain medications, like those used to treat high blood pressure – If you have high blood pressure, talk to your provider before getting pregnant to make sure your blood pressure is under control.
  • Post-term pregnancy – A pregnancy that goes 2 or more weeks past the due date. A full-term pregnancy is one that lasts 39 to 41 weeks.
  • Birth defects, especially ones that affect the baby’s kidneys and urinary tract.
  • Premature rupture of the membranes (PROM) – When the amniotic sac breaks after 37 weeks of pregnancy but before labor starts.

Treatment options vary:

  • Drinking lots of water may help increase the amount of amniotic fluid. Your doctor may recommend less physical activity or going on bed rest.
  • If you have a healthy pregnancy and get oligohydramnios near the end of your pregnancy, you probably don’t need treatment. Your doctor may want to see you more often. She may want to do ultrasounds weekly or more often to check the amount of amniotic fluid.
  • Sometimes amnioinfusion can help prevent problems in the baby.
  • If the fluid gets too low or if your baby is having trouble staying healthy, your doctor may recommend starting labor early to help prevent problems during labor and birth.

Too much fluid (Polyhydramnios)

Only about 1% of all pregnant women have polyhydramnios and many don’t have symptoms. If you have a lot of extra amniotic fluid you may have belly pain and trouble breathing. This is because the uterus presses on your organs and lungs. Your doctor uses ultrasound to measure the amount of amniotic fluid.

Polyhydramnios may increase the risk of premature birth, premature rupture of the membranes (PROM), placental abruption, stillbirth, postpartum hemorrhage and fetal malposition.

In about half of cases, we don’t know what causes polyhydramnios. In other cases, we can identify a cause. Some known causes are:

  • Birth defects, especially those that affect the baby’s swallowing. A baby’s swallowing keeps the fluid in the womb at a steady level.
  • Diabetes – Having too much sugar in your blood
  • Mismatch between your blood and your baby’s blood, such as Rh and Kell diseases
  • Twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS) – If you’re carrying identical twins, this is when one twin gets too much blood flow and the other gets too little.
  • Problems with the baby’s heart rate
  • An infection in the baby

Treatment options vary:

  • In many cases, slight polyhydramnios goes away by itself. Other times, it may go away when the problem causing it is fixed. For example, if your baby’s heart rate is causing the problem, sometimes your provider can give you medicine to fix it.
  • If you have polyhydramnios, you usually have ultrasounds weekly or more often to check amniotic fluid levels. You may also have tests to check your baby’s health.
  • Having too much amniotic fluid may make you uncomfortable. Your doctor may give you medicine called indomethacin. This medicine helps lower the amount of urine that your baby makes, so it lowers the amount of amniotic fluid. Amniocentesis also can remove extra fluid.
  • If you have slight polyhdramnios near the end of your pregnancy but tests show that you and your baby are healthy, you usually don’t need any treatment.

Anemia

Anemia is when you don't have enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen to the rest of your body. Without enough oxygen, your body cannot work as well as it should, and you feel tired and run down. Anemia is common in pregnancy. So it's important to prevent anemia before, during and after pregnancy. Your doctor should test you for anemia at a prenatal care visit.

What causes anemia?

Usually, a woman becomes anemic (has anemia) because her body isn't getting enough iron. Iron is a mineral that helps to create red blood cells. In pregnancy, iron deficiency has been linked to an increased risk of premature birth and low birthweight. Some women may have an illness that causes anemia..

What are signs and symptoms of anemia?

Anemia takes some time to develop. In the beginning, you may not have any signs or they may be mild. But as it gets worse, you may have these signs and symptoms:

  • Fatigue (very common)
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Pale skin
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Chest pain

Because your heart has to work harder to pump more oxygen-rich blood through the body, all of these signs and symptoms can occur.

How do can you get the right amount of iron?

Before getting pregnant, women should get about 18 milligrams (mg) of iron per day. During pregnancy, the amount of iron you need jumps to 27 mg per day. Most pregnant women get this amount from eating foods that contain iron and taking prenatal vitamins that contain iron. Some women need to take iron supplements to prevent iron deficiency.

Foods high in iron include:

  • Poultry
  • Dried fruits and beans
  • Eggs
  • Iron-fortified cereals, breads and pastas
  • Organ meats (liver, giblets)
  • Red meat
  • Seafood (clams, oysters, sardines)
  • Spinach and other dark leafy greens
  • Foods containing vitamin C can increase the amount of iron your body absorbs. So it's a good idea to eat foods like orange juice, tomatoes, strawberries and grapefruit every day.

Calcium (in dairy products like milk) and coffee, tea, egg yolks, fiber and soybeans can block your body from absorbing iron. Try to avoid these when eating iron-rich foods.

Bleeding and Spotting

Bleeding and spotting from the vagina during pregnancy are common. Up to half of all pregnant women have some bleeding or spotting during their pregnancy.

Bleeding and spotting in pregnancy don’t always mean there’s a problem, but they can be a sign of miscarriage or other serious complications. Miscarriage is when a baby dies in the womb before 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Call your doctor if you have any bleeding or spotting, even if it stops. It may not be caused by anything serious, but your provider needs to find out what’s causing it.

What’s the difference between bleeding and spotting?

Spotting is light bleeding. It happens when you have a few drops of blood on your underwear. Spotting is so light that the blood wouldn’t cover a panty liner. Bleeding is when the blood flow is heavier, enough that you need a panty liner or pad to keep the blood from soaking your underwear and clothes.

What should you do if you have bleeding or spotting during pregnancy?

Call your doctor and do these things:

  • Keep track of how heavy your bleeding is, if it gets heavier or lighter, and how many pads you are using.
  • Check the color of the blood.  Your doctor may want to know. It can be different colors, like brown, dark or bright red.
  • Don’t use a tampon, douche or have sex when you’re bleeding.
  • Call your doctor right away or go to the emergency room if you have:
    • Heavy bleeding
    • Bleeding with pain or cramping
    • Dizziness and bleeding
    • Pain in your belly or pelvis

What causes bleeding or spotting EARLY in pregnancy?

It’s normal to have some spotting or bleeding early in pregnancy. Bleeding or spotting in the first trimester may not be a problem. It can be caused by:

  • Having sex
  • An infection
  • Implantation. When a fertilized egg (embryo) attaches to the lining of the uterus (womb) and begins to grow.
  • Hormone changes. Hormones are chemicals made by the body.
  • Changes in your cervix. The cervix is opening to the uterus that sits at the top of the vagina.

Sometimes bleeding or spotting in the first trimester is a sign of a serious problem, like:

 

  • Miscarriage. Almost all women who miscarry have bleeding or spotting before the miscarriage.
  • Ectopic pregnancy. This is when a fertilized egg implants itself outside of the uterus and begins to grow. An ectopic pregnancy cannot result in the birth of a baby. It can cause serious, dangerous problems for the pregnant woman.
  • Molar pregnancy. This is when a mass of tissue forms inside the womb, instead of a baby. Molar pregnancy is rare.

What causes bleeding or spotting LATER in pregnancy?

Bleeding or spotting later in pregnancy may be caused by:

  • Labor
  • Having sex
  • An internal exam by your doctor
  • Problems with the cervix, like an infection or cervical insufficiency. This is when a woman’s cervix opens too early.
  • Bleeding or spotting later in pregnancy may be a sign of a serious problem, like:
    • Preterm labor. This is labor that happens too early, before 37 weeks of pregnancy.
    • Placenta previa. This is when the placenta lies very low in the uterus and covers all or part of the cervix.
    • Placental abruption. This is when the placenta separates from the wall of the uterus before birth.
    • Uterine rupture. This is when the uterus tears during labor. This happens very rarely. It can happen if you have a scar in the uterus from a prior cesarean birth (also called c-section) or another kind of surgery on the uterus. A c-section is surgery in which your baby is born through a cut that your doctor makes in your belly and uterus.

How are bleeding and spotting treated?

Your treatment depends on what caused your bleeding. You may need a medical exam and tests. Most of the time, treatment for bleeding or spotting is rest. You may need to take time off from work and stay off your feet for a little while. You may need medicine to help protect your baby from Rh disease. Rh disease is when your blood and baby’s blood are incompatible (can’t be together). This disease can cause serious problems — even death — for your baby.

 

Depression during pregnancy

  • If you've had depression before, you're more likely than other women to have depression during pregnancy.
  • If you're taking an antidepressant and find out your pregnant, don't stop taking the medicine before talking to your doctor first.
  • There are many kinds of treatments that can help you feel better and that are safe for you and your baby during pregnancy. 
  • There are many kinds of treatments that can help you feel better and that are safe for you and your baby during pregnancy. 

How do you know if you have major depression?

Major depression is more than just feeling down for a few days. You may have depression if you have any of these signs that last for more than 2 weeks or:

  • Changes in your feelings 
    • Feeling sad, hopeless or overwhelmed
    • Feeling restless or moody
    • Crying a lot
    • Feeling worthless or guilty
    • Changes in your everyday life 
  • Eating more or less than you usually do
    • Having trouble remembering things, concentrating or making decisions
    • Not being able to sleep or sleeping too much
    • Withdrawing from friends and family
    • Losing interest in things you usually like to do 
  • Changes in your body 
    • Having no energy and feeling tired all the time
    • Having headaches, stomach problems or other aches and pains that don’t go away 

If you’re pregnant and you have any of these signs, or if the signs get worse, call your doctor. There are things you and your provider can do to help you feel better. If you’re worried about hurting yourself, call your doctor immediately.

Can depression during pregnancy affect your baby?

Yes. If you’re pregnant and have depression that’s not treated, you’re more likely to have: 

  • Premature birth.
  • A low-birthweight baby.
  • A baby who is more irritable, less active, less attentive and has fewer facial expressions than babies born to moms who don’t have depression during pregnancy 

Being pregnant can make depression worse or make it come back if you’ve been treated and feeling better. If you have depression that’s not treated, you may have trouble taking care of yourself during pregnancy. For example, you may not eat healthy foods and not gain enough weight. You may skip your prenatal care checkups or not follow instructions from your doctor. Or you may smoke, drink alcohol, use street drugs or abuse prescription drugs. All of these things can affect your baby before he’s born.

If you have depression during pregnancy that’s not treated, you’re more likely to have PPD after pregnancy. PPD can make it hard for you to care for and bond with your baby. Treatment for depression during pregnancy can help prevent these problems.

What causes major depression?

We’re not exactly sure what causes depression. It may be a combination of things, like changing chemicals in the brain or changing hormones. Hormones are chemicals made by the body. Some hormones can affect the parts of the brain that control emotions and mood.

Some things make you more likely than others to have depression. These are called risk factors. Having a risk factor doesn’t mean for sure that you’ll have depression. But it may increase your chances. Talk to your doctor about what you can do to help reduce your risk. Risk factors for major depression include: 

  • You’ve had major depression or another mental illness in the past, or you have a family history of depression or mental illness. This means that someone in your family has had the condition.
  • You’ve had stressful events in your life, like the death of a loved one or an illness that affects you or a loved one.
  • You have problems with your partner, including domestic violence.
  • You have little support from family or friends.
  • You have money problems.
  • You smoke, drink alcohol, use street drugs or abuse prescription drugs. 

How is depression treated during pregnancy?

Depression can be treated in several ways. You and your doctor may decide to use a combination of treatments instead of just one: 

  • Counseling (also called therapy or talk therapy). This is when you talk about your feelings and concerns with a counselor or therapist. This person helps you understand your feelings, solve problems and cope with things in your everyday life.
  • Support groups. These are groups of people who meet together or go online to share their feelings and experiences about certain topics. You might find our online community helpful.
  • Medicine. Depression often is treated with medicines called antidepressants. You need a prescription from your doctor for these medicines. You may be on one medicine or a combination of medicines. Some research shows that taking an antidepressant during pregnancy may put your baby at risk for some health conditions. But if you’ve been taking an antidepressant, it may be harmful to you to stop taking it. So talk with all of your doctor about the benefits and risks of taking an antidepressant while you’re pregnant, and decide together what you want your treatment to be. If you’re taking an antidepressant and find out you’re pregnant, don’t stop taking the medicine without talking to your doctor first. Not taking your medicine may be harmful to your baby, and it may make your depression come back.

Food Poisoning

Food poisoning happens when you eat or drink something with harmful bacteria (germs) in it. Normal changes in your body during pregnancy may make you more likely to get food poisoning. During pregnancy, food poisoning can cause serious problems for you and your baby, including premature birth, miscarriage and stillbirth.

How is food poisoning treated?

If you think you have food poisoning, call your doctor right away. Treatment depends on how sick you are. You may not need any treatment, or your provider may treat you with antibiotics to help keep you and your baby safe. If you have food poisoning, drink lots of water to help you stay hydrated (have water in your body). If you’re severely dehydrated (don’t have enough water in your body), you may need to go to the hospital for treatment.

How can you protect yourself and your baby from food poisoning during pregnancy?

Here’s what you can do:

  • Wash your hands right before handling food. Wash your hands well with soap and water after using the bathroom.
  • Wash your hands well with soap and water after touching animals or their food, bedding, tanks or waste.
  • Don’t eat foods that are likely to be contaminated with Listeria or Salmonella. This includes unpasteurized milk, soft cheeses, unwashed fruits/vegetables, deli meat, hot dogs, and dry sausages, refridgerated pates and smoked seafoods, and raw or undercooked poultry/meat/fish/eggs.
  • Handle foods safely whenever you wash, prepare, cook and store them. Wash knives, cutting boards and dishes used to prepare raw meat, fish or poultry before using them for other foods.

Gestational diabetes

Gestational diabetes occurs in 7% of all pregnancies. It’s a condition in which your body has too much sugar (called glucose) in the blood. When you eat, your body breaks down sugar and starches from food into glucose to use for energy. Your pancreas (an organ behind your stomach) makes a hormone called insulin that helps your body keep the right amount of glucose in your blood. When you have diabetes, your body doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use insulin well, so you end up with too much sugar in your blood. This can cause serious health problems, like heart disease, kidney failure and blindness. It’s really important to get treatment for diabetes to help prevent problems like these.

Can gestational diabetes cause problems during pregnancy?

Most of the time gestational diabetes can be controlled and treated during pregnancy to protect both you and your baby. But if not treated, it can cause problems during pregnancy, including:

  • Preeclampsia (see below for more information).
  • Premature birth (see below for more information).
  • Having a very large baby, weighing more than 4kg. Weighing this much makes your baby more likely to get hurt during labor and birth. You may need to have a cesarean birth (also called c-section) to keep your baby safe. Large babies are more likely to be obese or have diabetes later in life.
  • Stillbirth. This is when a baby dies in the womb after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
  • Gestational diabetes also can cause health complications for your baby after birth, including breathing problems, low blood sugar and jaundice.

Are you at risk for gestational diabetes?

You may be more likely than other women to develop gestational diabetes if:

  • You’re older than 25. 
  • You’re overweight or you gained a lot of weight during pregnancy.
  • You have a family history of diabetes. This means that one or more of your family members has diabetes.
  • You had gestational diabetes in a past pregnancy.
  • You had a baby in a past pregnancy who weighed more than 4kg or was stillborn.

How do you know if you have gestational diabetes?

Your doctor tests you for gestational diabetes with a prenatal test called a glucose tolerance test. You get the test at 24 to 28 weeks of pregnancy. Your doctor may give you the test earlier if he thinks you’re likely to develop gestational diabetes. If the test comes back positive, it will be re-checked and if this test is positve, your treatment may include:

  • Going more often for prenatal care checkups through the rest of your pregnancy to make sure you and your baby are healthy.
  • Checking your blood sugar on your own. Your doctor shows you how to do this and tells you how often to check it.
  • Eating healthy foods and being active every day.
  • Taking insulin. It comes in shots that your provider shows you how to give yourself.

If you have gestational diabetes, how can you help prevent getting diabetes later in life?

For most women, gestational diabetes goes away after giving birth. But having it makes you more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in life. Type 2 diabetes is the most common kind of diabetes. If you have type 2 diabetes, your pancreas makes too little insulin or your body becomes resistant to it (can’t use it normally).  

Here’s what you can do to help reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes after pregnancy:

  • Breastfeed. Breastfeeding can help you lose weight after pregnancy. Being overweight makes you more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
  • Get tested for diabetes 6 to 12 weeks after your baby is born. If the test is normal, get tested again every 3 years. If the test shows you have prediabetes, get tested once a year. Prediabetes means your blood sugar levels are slightly higher than they should be but not high enough to have diabetes.
  • Get to and stay at a healthy weight.

Group B Strep

Group B streptococcus (also called Group B strep or GBS) is a common type of bacteria that can cause infection. Usually GBS is not serious for adults, but it can hurt newborns.

GBS in adults usually doesn’t have any symptoms, but it can cause some minor infections, like a bladder or urinary tract infection (UTI).

 

About 25% of pregnant women carry GBS bacteria. The best way to know if you have GBS is to get tested, which your doctor should do at 35-37 weeks pregnant. If you do have GBS, though, there’s good news: your doctor can give you treatment during labor and birth that protects your baby from GBS.

 

High blood pressure

Blood pressure is the force of blood that pushes against the walls of your arteries. High blood pressure (also called hypertension) can put extra stress on your heart and kidneys. This can lead to heart, disease, kidney disease and stroke.

Some women have high blood pressure before they get pregnant. Others have high blood pressure for the first time during pregnancy. About 8 percent have some kind of high blood pressure during pregnancy. If you have high blood pressure, talk to your doctor. Managing your blood pressure can help you have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.

How do you know if you have high blood pressure?

Your blood pressure reading is given as two numbers: the top (first) number is the pressure when your heart contracts (gets tight) and the bottom (second) number is the pressure when your heart relaxes. A normal blood pressure is 119/79 or lower. High blood pressure happens when the top number is 140 or greater, or when the bottom number is 90 or greater. Your blood pressure can go up or down during the day.

At each prenatal care checkup, your doctor checks your blood pressure. To do this, she wraps a cuff (band) around your upper arm. She pumps air into the cuff to measure the pressure in your arteries when the heart contracts and then relaxes. If you have a high reading, your doctor can recheck it to find out for sure if you have high blood pressure. 

What pregnancy complications can high blood pressure cause?

High blood pressure can cause problems for you and your baby during pregnancy, including preeclampsia, premature birth, low birthweight, and/or placental abruption.

If you have high blood pressure during pregnancy, you’re also more likely have a cesarean birth (also called c-section).

Healthy eating, staying active and getting to a healthy weight after pregnancy can help prevent high blood pressure now and in the future.

How can you manage high blood DURING pregnancy?

Here’s what you can do:

  • Go to all your prenatal care checkups, even if you’re feeling fine.
  • If you need medicine to control your blood pressure, take it every day. Your doctor can help you choose one that’s safe for you and your baby.
  • Eat healthy foods. Don’t eat foods that are high in salt, like soup and canned foods. They can raise your blood pressure.
  • Stay active. Being active for 30 minutes each day can help you manage your weight, reduce stress and prevent problems like preeclampsia.
  • Don’t smoke, drink alcohol or use street drugs or abuse prescription drugs.

What can you do about high blood pressure BEFORE pregnancy?

Here’s what you can do:

  • Get a preconception checkup. This is a medical checkup you get before pregnancy to take care of health conditions that may affect your pregnancy.
  • Use birth control until your blood pressure is under control. Birth control is methods you can use to keep from getting pregnant.
  • Get to a healthy weight. Talk to your doctor about the weight that’s right for you.
  • Eat healthy foods.
  • Do something active every day.
  • Don’t smoke. Smoking is dangerous for people with high blood pressure because it damages blood vessel walls.

Placenta problems

Placenta previa

This is a condition in which the placenta lies very low in the uterus and covers all or part of the cervix. The cervix is the opening to the uterus that sits at the top of the vagina.

Placenta previa happens in about 1 in 200 pregnancies. If you have placenta previa early in pregnancy, it usually isn’t a problem. However, it can cause serious bleeding and other complications later in pregnancy. An ultrasound can usually detect placenta previa. Treatment depends on how far along you are in your pregnancy, the seriousness of your bleeding and the health of you and your baby. The goal is to keep you pregnant as long as possible. Doctors recommend cesarean birth (c-section) for nearly all women with placenta previa to prevent severe bleeding.

Placental abruption

Placental abruption is a serious condition in which the placenta separates from the wall of the uterus before birth. It can separate partially or completely. About 1 in 100 pregnant women have placental abruption. It usually happens in the third trimester, but it can happen any time after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The main symptom of placental abruption is vaginal bleeding. You also may have discomfort and tenderness or sudden, ongoing belly or back pain. Treatment depends on how serious the abruption is and how far along you are in your pregnancy.  Your provider may simply monitor you and your baby. Mild cases may cause few problems. But in serious cases, you may need to give birth right away if possible.

Preeclampsia

Preeclampsia is a condition that can happen after the 20th week of pregnancy or after giving birth. It’s when a pregnant woman has high blood pressure and signs that some of her organs, like her kidneys and liver, may not be working properly. Some of these signs include having protein in the urine, changes in vision and severe headache.

Preeclampsia is a serious health problem for pregnant women around the world. It affects 2 to 8 percent of pregnancies worldwide (. It’s the cause of 15 percent of premature births in the United States.

Most women with preeclampsia have healthy babies. But if it’s not treated, it can cause severe health problems for mom and baby.

What are the signs and symptoms of preeclampsia?

  • High blood pressure
  • Protein in the urine
  • Severe headaches
  • Changes in vision, like blurriness, flashing lights, seeing spots or being sensitive to light
  • Pain in the upper right belly area or pain in the shoulder
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Sudden weight gain (2 to 5 pounds in a week)
  • Swelling in the legs, hands and face
  • Trouble breathing
  • Many of these signs and symptoms are normal discomforts of pregnancy. But if you have severe headaches, blurred vision or severe upper belly pain, call your doctor right away.

 

What health and pregnancy complications can preeclampsia cause?

Without treatment, preeclampsia can serious health problems and even death. It may cause kidney, liver and brain damage. Preeclampsia also may affect how your blood clots and may cause serious bleeding problems. Your doctor can help you manage most health complications through regular prenatal care. Women with preeclampsia are more likely than women who don’t have preeclampsia to have these pregnancy complications:

  • Premature birth. Even with treatment, a pregnant woman with preeclampsia may need to give birth early to avoid serious health problems for her and her baby.
  • Placental abruption.
  • A baby with intrauterine growth restriction (see below for more details).
  • A low birthweight baby.

 

What causes preeclampsia?

We don’t know what causes preeclampsia. But there are some things that may make you more likely than other women to have it. These are called risk factors. Some risk factors put you at high risk for preeclampsia, including:

  • You have a history of preeclampsia. This means you had it in a previous pregnancy. The earlier in pregnancy you had preeclampsia, the higher your risk is to have it again in another pregnancy. You’re also at higher risk if you had preeclampsia along with other pregnancy complications.
  • You’re pregnant with multiples (twins, triplets or more).
  • You have high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease or an autoimmune disease like lupus or antiphospholipid syndrome.
  • Other risk factors for preeclampsia include first pregnancy, older than 35, obesity, family history of preeclampsia, complications in a previous pregnancy, more than 10 years since your last pregnancy, you had IVF

 

How is preeclampsia diagnosed and treated?

Your doctor should measure your blood pressure and checks your urine for protein at every visit. Because you can have mild preeclampsia without symptoms, it’s important to go to all of your prenatal care visits.

 

The cure for preeclampsia is the birth of your baby. Treatment depends on how severe your preeclampsia is and how far along you are in your pregnancy. Even if you have mild preeclampsia, you need treatment to make sure it doesn't get worse.

 

Most women with MILD preeclampsia after 37 weeks of pregnancy don’t have serious health problems. If you have mild preeclampsia before 37 weeks, your doctor should check your blood pressure and urine regularly. Your doctor should also check your baby’s health using an ultrasound. You may be able to stay at home, or your provider may want you to stay in the hospital.

 

If you have SEVERE preeclampsia before 34 weeks of pregnancy, you need to stay in the hospital for close monitoring. Your doctor may treat you with medicines called antenatal corticosteroids (also called ACS). These medicines help speed up your baby’s lung development. If your preeclampsia gets worse, you may need to give birth early. Most babies of moms with severe preeclampsia before 34 weeks of pregnancy do better in the hospital than if they stay in the uterus. If you have severe preeclampsia at 34 weeks of pregnancy or after, you need to be in the hospital, and your doctor may induce labor.

 

If you have preeclampsia, can you have a vaginal birth?

Yes. A vaginal birth may be better than a cesarean birth (c-section) if you have preeclampsia.

 

Preterm labor and premature birth

Even if you do everything right during pregnancy, you can still have preterm labor and premature birth. Preterm labor is labor that starts too early, before 37 weeks of pregnancy.

 

Premature babies may have more health problems or need to stay in the hospital longer than babies born on time. Some of these babies also face long-term health effects, like problems that affect the brain, lungs, hearing or vision.

 

Signs of preterm labor

Here are some signs that you may have preterm labor:

  • Contractions (your belly tightens like a fist) every 10 minutes or more often
  • Change in vaginal discharge (leaking fluid or bleeding from your vagina)
  • Pelvic pressure—the feeling that your baby is pushing down
  • Low, dull backache
  • Cramps that feel like your period
  • Belly cramps with or without diarrhea

 

What should you do if you think you're having preterm labor?

Call your doctor or go to the hospital right away if you think you're having preterm labor, or if you have any of the warning signs. Call even if you have only one sign.

 

Your doctor may tell you to:

  • Come into the office or go to the hospital for a checkup.
  • Stop what you're doing. Rest on your left side for 1 hour.
  • Drink 2 to 3 glasses of water or juice (not coffee or soda).
  • If the signs get worse or don’t go away after 1 hour, call your doctor again or go to the hospital. If they get better, relax for the rest of the day.

 

Can preterm labor be stopped?

Your doctor may give you medicine to try to stop preterm labor. You also may get some medicine that can improve your baby's health, even if he does come early.

 

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)

An STD is an infection that you can get from having sex with someone who is infected. You can get an STD from vaginal, anal or oral sex. Many people with STDs don’t know they’re infected because some STDs have no symptoms.

 

What problems can STDs cause during pregnancy?

STDs can be harmful to pregnant women and their babies. STDs may cause premature birth, premature rupture of the membranes (PROM), ectopic pregnancy, birth defects, miscarriage and stillbirth.

 

Most babies get infected with STDs while passing through the birth canal during labor and birth. But some STDs can cross the placenta and infect your baby in the womb. The placenta grows in your uterus (womb) and supplies your baby with food and oxygen through the umbilical cord.

 

How do you know if you have a STD?

If you’re pregnant, it’s important to find out if you have an STD. At your prenatal care visits, your doctor should test you for some STDs.

 

How can you protect yourself from STDs?

  • Get tested and treated for STDs. If you find out you have an STD, get treatment right away. This can help protect your health and fertility (the ability to get pregnant). It also can help protect your baby from problems that STDs can cause during pregnancy and birth. Talk to your provider about testing and treatment.
  • Don’t have sex. This is the best way to prevent yourself from getting an STD.
  • If you have sex, have sex with only one person who doesn’t have other sex partners. Use a condom if you’re not sure if your partner has an STD. Ask your partner to get tested and treated for STDs.

 

Toxoplasmosis

Toxoplasmosis is an infection caused by a parasite so tiny you can’t see it. It is very common. Very few people have symptoms because a healthy immune system usually keeps the parasite from causing infection. But toxoplasmosis can cause big health problems for your baby during pregnancy.

 

How do you get infected with toxoplasmosis?

You can come in contact with the parasite that causes the infection through:

  • Eating raw or undercooked meat
  • Eating unwashed fruits and vegetables
  • Touching cat poop
  • Touching kitchen utensils and cutting boards used to prepare raw or undercooked meat and fruits and vegetables
  • Touching dirt or sand

 

How do you know if you have toxoplasmosis?

You may not know if you have the infection. Lots of times there are no symptoms. For some people, it feels like the flu. Symptoms can include achy muscles, headache, fatigue (tiredness), fever, discomfort, or swollen glands. These symptoms can last for a month or longer. If you think you have toxoplasmosis, talk to your doctor who can give you a blood test to find out if you have the infection. Even though blood tests are a regular part of prenatal care, you don’t usually get testing for toxoplasmosis. So be sure to talk to your doctor if you think you have the infection.

 

Can toxoplasmosis cause problems before pregnancy?

If you have toxoplasmosis within 6 months of getting pregnant, you may be able to pass it to your baby during pregnancy. Talk to your doctor about being tested.

 

Can toxoplasmosis cause complications during pregnancy?

Yes. Pregnancy complications caused by toxoplasmosis include miscarriage, preterm birth and stillbirth.

 

If you get toxoplasmosis during pregnancy, you have almost a one-in-three chance of passing the infection to your baby. The later in your pregnancy you get infected, the more likely it is that your baby gets infected. But the earlier in pregnancy you get infected, the more serious the baby’s problems may be after birth. For example, he could have microcephaly or vision problems. Some infected babies may die.

 

If you have toxoplasmosis during pregnancy, your doctor may suggest a test called amniocentesis (also called amnio) to see if your baby is infected. Amnio is a test that takes some amniotic fluid from around your baby in the uterus. You can get this test at 15 to 20 weeks of pregnancy.

 

The fluid can be tested to see if your baby has toxoplasmosis. It also can be tested for other problems with the baby, like birth defects or genetic problems. Birth defects are problems with a baby’s body that are present at birth. Genetic conditions may be passed from parents to children through genes and include certain diseases and birth defects.

 

Can toxoplasmosis during pregnancy harm your baby?

Most babies born with toxoplasmosis have no symptoms. But about 10% with the infection are born with problems. Without treatment, even for those babies without symptoms, these problems will most likely develop into serious conditions later in life, including intellectual disabilities, vision problems, cerebral palsy, seizures and hearing loss. Therefore, if you think you had toxoplasmosis during pregnancy, be sure your baby is tested. Your baby can have a blood test to check for this infection.

 

How is toxoplasmosis treated?

During pregnancy you can take certain antibiotics helps reduce the chance of your baby getting toxoplasmosis. This treatment also helps reduce the seriousness of any symptoms your baby may have. If your baby shows symptoms of toxoplasmosis, she gets treated with the antibiotics for at least one year.

 

How can you prevent toxoplasmosis?

  • Don’t eat raw or undercooked meat, especially lamb or pork. Cooked meat should not look pink, and the juices should be clear.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water after handling fruits, vegetables or raw meat.
  • Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth when handling raw meat.
  • Clean cutting boards, work surfaces and utensils with hot, soapy water after using them with fruits, vegetables or raw meat.
  • Peel or thoroughly wash all raw fruits and vegetables before eating.
  • Use work gloves when you’re gardening. Wash your hands afterwards.
  • Be careful around cats. Don’t let your cat go outside your home where it may come in contact with the parasite. Ask someone else to clean your cat’s litter box. If you have to do it yourself, wear gloves. Wash your hands thoroughly when you’re done emptying the litter.
  • Stay away from children’s outdoor sandboxes. Cats like to poop in them.

 

Umbilical cord conditions

The umbilical cord is a tube that connects you to your baby during pregnancy. It has three blood vessels: one vein that carries food and oxygen from the placenta to your baby and two arteries that carry waste from your baby back to the placenta.

 

Umbilical cord conditions include the cord being too long or too short, not connecting well to the placenta or getting knotted or squeezed. These conditions can cause problems during pregnancy, labor and birth. If you have one of these conditions, your doctor may find it during pregnancy on an ultrasound.

 

What is umbilical cord prolapse?

Umbilical cord prolapse is when the umbilical cord slips into the vagina (birth canal) ahead of your baby during labor and birth. The cord can get pinched, so your baby may not get enough oxygen. This happens in about 1 in 300 births.

 

If your water breaks and you feel something in your vagina, go to the hospital right away. Your doctor can look for cord prolapse by checking your baby’s heart rate and doing a pelvic exam on you. He may be able to take pressure off the umbilical cord by moving the baby. If the cord is pinched, you may need to have a cesarean section (also called c-section) instead of a vaginal birth.

 

What is a single umbilical artery?

Single umbilical artery is when one artery in the umbilical cord is missing. It happens in about 1 in 100 singleton pregnancies and about 5 in 100 multiple pregnancies. About

20% of babies with a single umbilical artery have health problems, including heart, kidney or digestion problems and genetic conditions. If an ultrasound shows that you have a single umbilical artery, your doctor may recommend checking your baby’s health during pregnancy with a detailed ultrasound, an amniocentesis and/or an echocardiogram.

 

What is a nuchal cord?

A nuchal cord is an umbilical cord that gets wrapped around a baby’s neck. Babies with a nuchal cord usually are born healthy, but it sometimes can affect their heart rate. Your doctor can see a nuchal cord on an ultrasound and usually can slip the cord off the baby’s neck during labor and birth.

 

What are umbilical cord knots?

Knots in umbilical cords can form early in pregnancy when your baby moves around in the womb. Knots happen most often when the umbilical cord is too long and in pregnancies with identical twins. Identical twins share one amniotic sac, which makes it easy for the babies' umbilical cords to get tangled. The amniotic sac (also called bag of waters) is inside the uterus (womb) and is filled with amniotic fluid. About 1 in 100 pregnancies have a knot in the umbilical cord.

 

What is an umbilical cord cyst?

Umbilical cord cysts are sacs of fluid in the umbilical cord. They’re not common—less than 1 in 100 pregnancies has an umbilical cord cyst. Your provider may find an umbilical cord cyst during an ultrasound. Most cysts found in the first trimester don’t hurt the baby.

 

Uterine conditions

The uterus (also called the womb) is the place inside you where your baby grows. Certain conditions (called abnormalities or defects) in your uterus can cause problems before and during pregnancy.

 

Here are the top things you need to know about uterine conditions:

  • Many of these conditions don’t cause signs or symptoms that affect your health, so you may not know about them until you try to get pregnant or you get pregnant.
  • Some of these conditions cause no problems during pregnancy. But some can make it hard for you to get pregnant, and some can cause problems like miscarriage or premature birth.
  • For some conditions, treatment is needed to help improve your chances of having a healthy pregnancy.

 

What are congenital uterine conditions?

Congenital means that something is present at birth—it’s something you’re born with. About 3% of women are born with a defect in the size, shape or structure of the uterus. Some congenital uterine conditions may not cause any problems during pregnancy but other might increase your chances of having premature birth, birth defects, slow growth in your baby, breech position or other position problems, needing to have a cesarean birth (also called c-section), or miscarriage

 

What are fibroids?

Fibroids are benign growths made of muscle tissue in the uterus. Benign means that they aren’t cancer. They are an acquired uterine condition. This means you’re not born with fibroids; instead, they develop later in life.

 

Small fibroids usually don’t cause problems during pregnancy, but larger fibroids may cause complications, including:

  • Trouble getting pregnant (also called infertility)
  • Preterm labor. This is labor that starts too early, before 37 weeks of pregnancy.
  • Your baby being in a breech position. This may make it necessary for you to have a c-section.
  • Placental abruption. This is a serious condition in which the placenta separates from the wall of the uterus before birth.
  • Miscarriage
  • Heavy bleeding after giving birth

 

You may have fibroids if you have these signs and symptoms:

  • Heavy periods
  • Anemia. This is when you don't have enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen to the rest of your body.
  • Pain in your belly or your back
  • Pain during sex
  • Trouble urinating or having to urinate often

 

Some women with fibroids may need to be treated with medicine for pain in the belly and back. If your doctor thinks fibroids are causing you to have trouble getting pregnant or to have repeat miscarriages, she may recommend surgery (called myomectomy) to remove them.

 

What are uterine scars?

These are scars or scar tissue in the uterus. They’re also called Asherman syndrome. The scars can damage the lining of the uterus called the endometrium. They’re acquired conditions that can be caused by an infection called endometritus or by surgery on the uterus or cervix, like a D&C. Many women have a D&C after a miscarriage to remove tissue from the uterus.

 

Signs and symptoms of uterine scars include light or infrequent periods; but some women have no signs or symptoms. The scars can cause trouble getting pregnant, premature birth and repeat miscarriage. Your doctor may use a procedure called hysteroscopy to find and remove scar tissue in the uterus.

 

How do you know if you have a uterine condition?

Your doctor uses special tests to find these conditions. You may need more than one test to figure out which condition you have. If the tests show you have a problem with your uterus, your doctor may recommend surgery, especially if you’ve had a miscarriage or premature birth in the past.

 

What is a retroverted or tipped uterus?

A retroverted uterus is when your uterus tips backward instead of forward. It’s a common condition that about 1 in 5 women have. You can be born with it (congenital), or it can develop later in life (acquired). A tipped uterus rarely causes pregnancy complications.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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