Pregnancy Related Problems

Sometimes pregnancy problems arise — even in healthy women. Some prenatal tests done during pregnancy can help prevent these problems or spot them early. Use this chart to learn about some common pregnancy complications. Call your doctor if you have any of the symptoms on this chart. If a problem is found, make sure to follow your doctor’s advice about treatment. Doing so will boost your chances of having a safe delivery and a strong, healthy baby.

ProblemsSymptomsTreatment
Anemia – Lower than normal number of healthy red blood cells• Feel tired or weak
• Look pale
• Feel faint
• Shortness of breath
Treating the underlying cause of the anemia will help restore the number of healthy red blood cells. Women with pregnancy related anemia are helped by taking iron and folic acid supplements. Your doctor will check your iron levels throughout pregnancy to be sure anemia does not happen again.
Depression – Extreme sadness during pregnancy or after birth (postpartum)• Intense sadness
• Helplessness and irritability
• Appetite changes
• Thoughts of harming self or baby
Women who are pregnant might be helped with one or a combination of treatment options, including:
• Therapy
• Support groups
• Medicines
A mother’s depression can affect her baby’s development, so getting treatment is important for both mother and baby.
Ectopic (ek-TOP-ihk) pregnancy – When a fertilized egg implants outside of the uterus, usually in the fallopian tube• Abdominal pain
• Shoulder pain
• Vaginal bleeding
• Feeling dizzy or faint
With ectopic pregnancy, the egg cannot develop. Drugs or surgery is used to remove the ectopic tissue so your organs are not damaged.
Fetal problems – Unborn baby has a health issue, such as poor growth or heart problems• Baby moving less than normal Baby is smaller than normal for gestational age
• Some problems have no symptoms, but are found with prenatal tests
Treatment depends on results of tests to monitor baby’s health. If a test suggests a problem, this does not always mean the baby is in trouble. It may only mean that the mother needs special care until the baby is delivered. This can include a wide variety of things, such as bed rest, depending on the mother’s condition. Sometimes, the baby has to be delivered early.
Gestational diabetes – Too high blood sugar levels during pregnancy• Usually, there are no symptoms. Sometimes, extreme thirst, hunger, or fatigue
• Screening test shows high blood sugar levels
Most women with pregnancy related diabetes can control their blood sugar levels by a following a healthy meal plan from their doctor. Some women also need insulin to keep blood sugar levels under control. Doing so is important because poorly controlled diabetes increases the risk of:
• Preeclampsia
• Early delivery
• Cesearean birth
• Having a big baby, which can complicate delivery
• Baby born with low blood sugar, breathing problems, and jaundice
High blood pressure (pregnancy related) – High blood pressure that starts after 20 weeks of pregnancy and goes away after birth• High blood pressure without other signs and symptoms of preeclampsiaThe health of the mother and baby are closely watched to make sure high blood pressure is not preeclampsia.
Hyperemesis gravidarum (HEYE- pur-EM-uh-suhss grav-uh-DARuhm) (HG) – Severe, persistent nausea and vomiting during pregnancy — more extreme than “morning sickness”
• Nausea that does not go away
• Vomiting several times every day
• Weight loss
• Reduced appetite
• Dehydration
• Feeling faint or fainting
Dry, bland foods and fluids together is the first line of treatment. Sometimes, medicines are prescribed to help nausea. Many women with HG have to be hospitalized so they can be fed fluids and nutrients through a tube in their veins. Usually, women with HG begin to feel better by the 20th week of pregnancy. But some women vomit and feel nauseated throughout all three trimesters
Miscarriage – Pregnancy loss from natural causes before 20 weeks. As many as 20 percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage. Often, miscarriage occurs before a woman even knows she is pregnantSigns of a miscarriage can include:
• Vaginal spotting or bleeding*
• Cramping or abdominal pain
• Fluid or tissue passing from the vagina
In most cases, miscarriage cannot be prevented. Sometimes, a woman must undergo treatment to remove pregnancy tissue in the uterus. Counseling can help with emotional healing.
* Spotting early in pregnancy doesn’t mean miscarriage is certain. Still, contact your doctor right away if you have any bleeding.
Placenta previa – Placenta covers part or entire opening of cervix inside of the uterus• Painless vaginal bleeding during second or third trimester
• For some, no symptoms
If diagnosed after the 20th week of pregnancy, but with no bleeding, a woman will need to cut back on her activity level and increase bed rest. If bleeding is heavy, hospitalization may be needed until mother and baby are stable. If the bleeding stops or is light, continued bed rest is resumed until baby is ready for delivery. If bleeding doesn’t stop or if preterm labor starts, baby will be delivered by cesarean section.
Placental abruption – Placenta separates from uterine wall before delivery, which can mean the fetus doesn’t get enough oxygen.• Vaginal bleeding
• Cramping, abdominal pain, and uterine tenderness
When the separation is minor, bed rest for a few days usually stops the bleeding. Moderate cases may require complete bed rest. Severe cases (when more than half of the placenta separates) can require immediate medical attention and early delivery of the baby.
Preeclampsia (pree-ee-CLAMP- see-uh) – A condition starting after 20 weeks of pregnancy that causes high blood pressure and problems with the kidneys and other organs. Also called toxemia.• High blood pressure
• Swelling of hands and face
• Too much protein in urine
• Stomach pain
• Blurred vision
• Dizziness
• Headaches
The only cure is delivery, which may not be best for the baby. Labor will probably be induced if condition is mild and the woman is near term (37 to 40 weeks of pregnancy). If it is too early to deliver, the doctor will watch the health of the mother and her baby very closely. She may need medicines and bed rest at home or in the hospital to lower her blood pressure. Medicines also might be used to prevent the mother from having seizures
Preterm labor – Going into labor before 37 weeks of pregnancy• Increased vaginal discharge
• Pelvic pressure and cramping
• Back pain radiating to the abdomen
• Contractions
Medicines can stop labor from progressing. Bed rest is often advised. Sometimes, a woman must deliver early. Giving birth before 37 weeks is called “preterm birth.” Preterm birth is a major risk factor for future preterm births.