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Pregnancy Complications: Preventing the Preventable

To be pregnant is a precious gift for every woman but it is nevertheless a delicate situation which needs care and due attention. Complications can arise and when they do, a mother’s health and that of her baby may be at risk. Get to know some of the risks involved and how to prevent them.

In many cases, complications which arise during pregnancy can easily take a turn for the worse if nothing is done to remedy a condition. Women have been known to lose their babies and even their lives due to severe problems during pregnancy and/or childbirth. It is very important for women to receive health care before and during pregnancy to minimise the risk of things going wrong.

Health Care Before Pregnancy

Before even attempting to become pregnant, a doctor’s check-up is important. He will need to know everything there is to know when it comes to your health, regardless if it’s a past health issue or a present one. It would be a grave mistake to assume that a serious health issue which you suffered from in the past will have no impact whatsoever on your pregnancy.

In regards to this, a well-informed doctor will be able to make a proper assessment on your health, offer valuable advice and information on what to expect during your pregnancy and also provide the care and attention needed so that you may have a safe and successful pregnancy.

If you happen to be receiving treatment for a present health problem, your doctor might want to look into changing the way your health problem is managed. For example, some medicines used to treat health problems could be harmful if taken during pregnancy. This may not be an easy task, for in many cases, stopping medicines can turn out to be more harmful than the risks posed by a pregnancy.

Your doctor will also need to be informed of any problems you had in any of your previous pregnancies. If health problems are under control through good prenatal care, you will have a better chance of having a safe, uneventful pregnancy.

Precautions during pregnancy

Pregnancy issues can be confusing and they may range from mild and annoying discomforts to severe, sometimes life-threatening illnesses. The danger is that sometimes, it can be difficult for a woman to determine which symptoms are normal and which are the ones that need immediate medical attention.

Problems during pregnancy are also not confined to just physical issues. Mental conditions associated with pregnancy are factors that can affect the health of the mother or the baby. Many problems are mild and do not progress; however, when they do, they may harm the mother and/or her baby.

Stress has always been the main culprit for many physical and/or mental health issues associated with pregnancy. Keep in mind that there are ways to manage these pre-natal problems, so keep your doctor well-informed on your worries and concern so that he or she will know exactly what to do to help you.

First trimester (1 – 3 months)

During the first trimester, a pregnancy is still at a delicate stage and it is not uncommon to feel a little paranoid that something awful might happen. While some issues that arise turn out to be products of over-worrying, some however might need immediate medical attention to prevent them from getting worse. The following are a few symptoms that may need a doctor’s attention.

Dehydration through excessive vomiting: In early pregnancy, vomiting is common though with varying degrees of severity. Severe vomiting might lead to dehydration, so if you are experiencing this, do call on your doctor for advice. Taking in plenty of fluids will help keep dehydration at bay.

Bleeding and pain: These symptoms occur in ectopic pregnancies and also during miscarriages. If there is pain in early pregnancy, the suspicion of ectopic pregnancy is high. When bleeding accompanies pain, the pregnancy might not make it through. If not diagnosed in time, it can rupture and lead to serious bleeding in the womb.

What to avoid during early pregnancy

  • Eating heavy meals
  • Visiting friends or relatives at hospitals
  • Smoking
  • Consuming alcohol
  • Physical and mental exertion
  • Travelling on bumpy roads

The Second Trimester (month 4 – 6)

During the second trimester, some women may experience extreme tiredness and fatigue. It is important to conduct blood and urine tests to look for low haemoglobin, abnormalities of sugar, thyroid disorders and Rh negative blood group. A baseline blood pressure measurement should also be done early in pregnancy, and so should routine screening for HIV, Hepatitis B and syphilis. It is important to continue regular antenatal care to identify any changes quickly.

Avoiding complications

  • Eat fresh or minimally processed food.
  • Ask your doctor about iron and calcium supplements.
  • Take up antenatal exercises under supervision. Yoga helps to keep one physically and mentally fit during pregnancy, delivery and the postnatal period.
  • Wear suitable shoes for comfort and keep a good posture. This also helps prevent back aches.

Anomaly Scan

A detailed sonography is performed from 16 to 20 weeks to detect any abnormality in the baby. This is called an anomaly scan and it checks the baby from head to toe. This scan, taken at this stage almost completes the investigative process to detect an abnormally developed baby.

Common pregnancy complications

You may start to bleed, which could indicate a miscarriage. Bleeding at this stage of pregnancy happens if the neck of the cervix is weak. Your doctor needs to know about this at once. If you bleed, you may need complete bed rest and maybe even a stitch to tighten the neck of the womb.

Third trimester (month 7 – 9)

It may be necessary to check your haemoglobin and blood sugar levels at this stage. From now on, you will be checked every two weeks. You’ll also have to keep a count of the fetal movements. You should feel at least 10 movements in a day.

In some pregnancies, either the blood pressure, or the blood sugar may rise. Careful monitoring coupled with timely tests can diagnose these disorders early and keep them under control.

Possible third trimester complications

Low placenta and abruption

These conditions lead to bleeding in pregnancy. Emergency situations may arise and delivery may become necessary. Low lying placenta calls for complete rest and delivery may have to be by caesarean section.

Abnormal lie

Occasionally, the baby may be in an abnormal position. This could be a breech, oblique or transverse lie. In such situations, a caesarean section may be necessary.

Combined and systematic efforts by you and your doctor can ensure that you have a safe and successful pregnancy.

Preterm labour

Sometimes labour may start before a full term. This is generally due to infection, mainly urinary infection. In such situations, it is important to be cared for in a hospital that has neonatal intensive facilities.

Growth restriction

The growth of your baby will be monitored closely during the third trimester to detect any slowing down. If the growth of your baby experiences a sudden halt or slows down, additional tests such as blood flow to the baby (Doppler test) may be done. If there are abnormalities, the baby may have to be delivered.

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