There is always the possibility that an expecting mother will develop an illness that she did not have prior to becoming pregnant. It's also possible that some moms are having difficulty because of a preexisting health condition.
Having more than one child at once, having a history of health issues during pregnancy, using drugs during pregnancy, or being older than 35 are all additional risk factors for pregnancy complications. Any one of these factors can have negative effects on you, your baby, or both. But there's good news! The risk of complications during pregnancy can be reduced by working with your doctor to manage an existing condition. It's also possible that once you're pregnant, you'll need more than one doctor to keep an eye on things.
It’s normal to feel overwhelmed and scared when confronted with these issues, but with the right information and the support of your health care provider, you can be empowered to make the best decisions for you and your baby. In this post, we’ll look at the most common health issues during pregnancy, what causes them, and how to cope with them.
What are the most common health issues during pregnancy?
One of the first health issues that women may experience during pregnancy is morning sickness. Morning sickness is the most common health issue during pregnancy. It’s also temporary and won’t last forever. But it can be incredibly intense and cause significant discomfort, making it difficult for a woman to function on a daily basis. The intensity of morning sickness can vary from person to person and from day to day. It often starts around the second or third week of pregnancy and typically goes away by the end of the first trimester (between weeks 8 and 12). Women with morning sickness are often advised to eat small amounts of bland foods to avoid having an upset stomach.
Pregnancy fatigue, especially in the first trimester, is a frequent symptom. Mood swings, fatigue, and nausea are all symptoms of the hormonal shifts that occur during this time. Tiredness is a common side effect of pregnancy, especially in the later stages. The bigger your belly becomes, the more uncomfortable it might be to sleep. It's possible that you'll have trouble relaxing in a lying down position and may have to get up frequently to use the restroom. Tiredness is not harmful to either you or your baby, but it can make daily tasks seem more challenging.
To put it simply, diabetes hinders your body's ability to metabolize sugar. Pregnancy-related diabetes is called gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM). Macrosomia, or abnormally large birth weight, is a serious complication of gestational diabetes. A baby's shoulders may become mired in the birth canal if they're much bigger than usual. Your doctor may advise a cesarean delivery if they determine that the baby is too large to be delivered vaginally safely.
Preeclampsia is characterized by extremely high blood pressure and should be treated immediately. If left untreated, it can be fatal. After 20 weeks, preeclampsia is more common in women who have never had high blood pressure before. Preeclampsia symptoms include severe headache, visual abnormalities, and pain in the upper right abdominal area. The risk factors include previous hypertension, obesity, advanced maternal age, and having more than one child in the womb at the same time.
Urinary Tract Infection
UTIs, or urinary tract infections, are infections that affect the urinary system. Pregnant women are more vulnerable to bacterial infections, and urinary tract infections (UTIs) are among the most prevalent. They may occur in the kidneys, the urethra, or the bladder. If you get a urinary tract infection while you're pregnant, your baby could be born prematurely and smaller than usual, and your blood pressure could rise. This is why it is essential to treat a UTI as quickly as possible, even if you are experiencing no symptoms.
Mental Health Conditions
Being pregnant is usually a time of great joy and anticipation. However, this is not the case for all females. You may feel conflicted or even miserable about your pregnancy, especially for those who are experiencing the worst symptoms of pregnancy like painful backs and severe morning sickness. Pregnancy offers a lot of changes and unknowns, and you may find it more challenging to adapt to those than others. Expecting a baby is no easy feat and the stress of ensuring everything is absolutely fine with your baby can take a toll on your mental health.
Causes of these health issues
Health problems during pregnancy affect millions of women, yet only a few of them will actually have to seek medical attention. Knowing the root of the problem will allow you to take control of the situation and be ready for anything.
- Morning sickness - Many women experience nausea during the first few weeks of pregnancy. Morning sickness is the most common cause of this nausea, and human chorionic gonadotropin, a hormone generated by the placenta, has been linked to pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting (HCG).
- Fatigue - a lack of energy is common symptoms of pregnancy because of hormone changes, as well as other, more subtle, physical and emotional changes. Elevated levels of estrogen and progesterone, decreased blood pressure and blood sugar are only a few of these changes that takes place in a pregnant woman's body.
- Gestational diabetes - About 6% to 9% of pregnant women develop gestational diabetes, but it’s a completely preventable condition. Research suggests that there may be certain signs and symptoms that a woman may experience early in her pregnancy.
- UTI - Normally, there won't be any bacteria in your urinary tract. A urinary tract infection (UTI) can develop when bacteria enter and spread in the urinary tract. Factors such as being sexually active, having weak pelvic floor muscles, and wiping from back to front can increase the risk of developing UTI.
- Mental Health Conditions - Worrying and stressing out too much, not having the support you need, and other stressful events in your life while you're pregnant can put you at a higher risk for mental health problems. One in five women will experience a mental health issue at some point during their pregnancy or shortly after giving birth.
- Preeclampsia - Preeclampsia has a complex set of underlying causes. The placenta, the organ that provides nutrients to the developing baby, is where experts believe it all starts. New blood vessels form and change throughout pregnancy to carry oxygen and nutrients to the placenta. The development and function of these blood arteries appear to be disrupted in women with preeclampsia. Blood pressure in the mother may not be properly controlled if there are issues with blood circulation in the placenta.
Women who are overweight or underweight, who have unbalanced diets (especially high amounts of sodium), who smoke or use illegal drugs, who have a history of diabetes or high blood pressure, or who are over the age of 35 are at higher risk for experiencing some of these issues during pregnancy.
How to cope with these health issues
Once you understand what causes these issues and how to cope with them, you can focus your energy and resources on the best things in life: your family. The best way to cope with most of these issues is to get healthy, eat well, and exercise.
- Get healthy and exercise. Maintain a healthy level of physical activity during your pregnancy. It can alleviate fatigue by relieving tension and improving your mood. It is critical to adopt a healthy diet and alter your lifestyle as soon as you discover you're expecting a baby. If you have diabetes, have your blood pressure and thyroid levels examined. It’s important to stay healthy and avoid complications so that you don’t face unnecessary challenges when it comes to preparing for childbirth. Most of all, it's important to get proper rest. If you're having trouble sleeping, consider sleep aids like a maternity pillow.
- Eat well. Eat a variety of healthy foods to ensure that you’re getting the nutrients your body needs during pregnancy. Make sure you don’t consume too much salt, caffeine, or alcohol. Get enough protein and iron, which is important for a healthy pregnancy. Avoid raw and undercooked meats, which can cause infections.
Resources and support
You will need help and resources throughout your pregnancy no matter how ready you are to handle prenatal health problems. That's why it's so important to see a doctor regularly and discuss any health concerns you may have prior to conceiving and during pregnancy, as well as to undergo screenings for concerns like STDs and diabetes.
If you’re experiencing any of the more common health issues during pregnancy, you may be offered access to free resources and support during your pregnancy. These services include:
- Low-cost or free medical and prescription drug screenings for gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, and high potassium.
- Access to prenatal care units, which offer an environment for women to feel comfortable talking about their pregnancy, get the help and support that they need, and receive medical attention in an efficient manner.
- Support groups for women experiencing any of these issues. Support groups are a great way to get expert advice from other women who understand what you’re going through.
Women can take precautions and make healthy choices during pregnancy to reduce the risk of complications, but it's also important to remember that every pregnancy comes with its own set of temporary challenges.
Don't be reluctant to seek help if you find yourself battling with any of these problems. With the help of your doctor and a trusted friend or family member, you can get over any of these common pregnant health problems and get back to enjoying your pregnancy in no time.