Pregnancy complications Part I article includes Anemia, Abdominal Pain, Backache, Bleeding Gums, Blood Clot, Constipation, Depression, Diabetes, and Ectopic Pregnancy. Learn about symptoms, causes, effects, treatment, and prevention tips associated with each individual pregnancy complication.
Pregnancy complications pose a risk of derailing your smooth sailing to motherhood. Ongoing changes inside make women vulnerable to various maternal health problems during pregnancy. An understanding of various pregnancy symptoms and causative factors helps minimize these complications and even prevent their occurrence.
Here is a list of common pregnancy complications and ways to prevent or treat them.
Anemia Pregnancy Complications
Anemia refers to the absence of adequate healthy red blood cells known as hemoglobin. Pregnancy requires an increased volume of blood in your body to carry oxygen to the tissues of the mother and the child. As the baby grows inside, you need higher amount of hemoglobin to supports its growth.
Mild anemia is normal during pregnancy. However, in its sever form, it can add to pregnancy complications, affect the child, and enhance the risk of preterm delivery.
Symptoms: Feeling tired, weakness, recurrent fatigue, dizziness, irregular heartbeat, pale skin and nails, unable to concentrate for long
Causes: Low hemoglobin level; lack of iron, vitamin B12, and folic acid
Treatment/Prevention: Anemia is traced to the absence of adequate iron, vitamin B12, and folic acid. To overcome anemia, a pregnant woman must intake food rich in these elements, such as dark, leafy green vegetables, fruit juices, nuts, seeds, beans, lentil, citrus fruits, and eggs. Iron supplements prescribed by your doctors also help.
Abdominal Pain During Pregnancy
Stabbing or achy abdominal pain during pregnancy is a scary experience. The causes range from benign reasons to severe pregnancy complications. Awareness is the key to ensure your wellbeing as well as the safety of the baby.
Normal abdominal pain may be linked to the pressure created by the growing uterus, stretched-out uterine ligaments in the second trimester, gas and constipation, tightening of the stomach muscles, fibroids, food sensitivity, kidney stones, urinary tract infections, or other non-threatening factors. This type of abdominal pain during pregnancy is not harmful.
However, abdominal pain during pregnancy traced to the risk of miscarriages, ectopic pregnancy, placenta abruption, preterm labor, or preeclampsia can be cause of concern. Severe or persistent pain with vaginal discharge is a potential cause to worry.
Symptoms: Moderate to severe throbbing, aching, or dull pain or cramps in the middle or lower abdomen
Treatment/ Prevention: Seek medical advice if there is severe/persistent abdominal pain. It may deteriorate when there is vaginal discharge, severe headache, swelling in extremities, or disturb vision. Moderate exercise or walking can help overcome gas-related pain. Increased fluid intake, body posture, eating small meals spread over the day, and enhanced intake of fiber-rich foods help in minimizing or preventing abdominal pain during pregnancy.
Backache During Pregnancy
Back pain is the most common of all pregnancy complications. As the body undergoes change during pregnancy, ligaments turn softer and stretched to accommodate the change in the body weight. This puts strain on the muscles supporting the lower back. Simultaneously, abdominal muscles become stressed with increasing pressure. All these strain the lower back and the pelvic region leading to backache.
Symptoms: Persistent or irregular back pain, pain affecting the lower back
Causes: Stressed lower back, pressure on back muscles, weak abdominal muscles
Treatment/Prevention: Avoid heavy lifting and spine twisting, use your knees while picking up something to ensure less pressure on the back, use only flat shoes, maintained a balanced weight, sit and sleep straight, use back support while sitting, use orthopedic mattress, and do stomach-strengthening exercises. Massage therapy and yoga are also beneficial. Consult your doctor if back pain accompanies urination.
Bleeding Gums, Tooth Plaque
Not among severe pregnancy complications, the problem of bleeding gums is also known by its medical terminology pregnancy gingivitis. Hormonal changes in pregnant women contribute to plaque buildup on the teeth. This cause gum inflammation and bleeding.
Symptoms: Gum bleeding, sore gums, swollen gums, plaque buildup on teeth
Causes: Pregnancy-related hormonal changes, sugary drinks, smoking
Treatment/ Prevention: Get your teeth cleaned at a dentist, maintain good oral hygiene, keep your mouth clean, do mouthwash after meals/snacks, use a small-headed, soft brush twice a day, say no to sugary drinks
Blood Clots During Pregnancy
The risk of blood clots or thrombosis increases six fold during pregnancy. With body of a pregnant woman undergoing significant changes, there is a surge in estrogen hormone too. Estrogen is linked to enhanced chance of blood clotting.
Blood clots have the potential to cause severest of pregnancy complications. Pulmonary embolism induced by it may lead to stroke. It can inhibit placental blood flow to the fetus. The risk of blood clots is higher in the first trimester. Those with previous episodes, smoking, more than 35 years of age, and overweight face the increased threat. Frequent long-distance travel during pregnancy could be a factor.
Symptoms: Swelling or pain in leg, increase in pain when walking, inflamed veins
Causes: Rise in hormone level s during pregnancy, obesity, smoking, lack of physical activity
Treatment/Prevention: Awareness is the first line of defense. Consult your doctor if have symptoms for long. With regular physical activity and lifestyle changes, you can prevent blood clots. Stay active, do exercises to improve blood circulation, eat healthy, avoid smoking and alcohol, drink plenty of water, and wear compression stockings while travelling for long hours
Constipation During Pregnancy
It is very common for pregnant women to experience constipation. While reduced water and high-fiber food intake compared to the need of the body results in constipation, a surge in hormone progesterone too plays a part. The hormone soothes the muscles responsible for food movement in the digestive tract and this leads to slacked digestion. Anxiety, worry, iron supplements, and absence of physical activity also contribute to it.
Uterus growth squeezing the intestine may also cause pregnancy constipation. However, unlike other pregnancy complications, it does not affect the child.
Symptoms: Constipation, bloating, abdominal tightness, queasiness, uneasiness, indigestion, fullness, irregular or no bowel movement
Causes: Pregnancy-related hormonal changes, iron intake, anxiety, worry, absence of physical activity
Treatment/Prevention: Increase water intake, eat smaller meals spread out over a day, add high-fiber food to the diet, such as vegetables, go for oats, salad, lentil, beans, and wholegrain meals, switch to different types of iron supplements, drink a lots of fluids, do regular physical exercise, and increase citrus fruit intake.
However, avoid mineral oils and laxative pills, as these may cause adverse impacts on pregnancy.
Depression During Pregnancy
Pregnancy depression, much akin to clinical depression, is an illness. A disorderly mental state make a mother disinterested in the care of herself and the child she is carrying. This increases the risk of pregnancy complications, such as poor nutrition, anemia, hypertension, fluid retention, and preterm delivery. At worst case scenario, it may cause termination of pregnancy.
Pregnancy depression may cause the child to suffer from lack of prenatal care and this manifests in neonatal psychological distress, missing developmental milestones, and low weight.
Symptoms: Continued overwhelming sadness, anxiety, despair, stress, persistent negative thoughts, lack of interest, feeling of low, empty life, weak, and crying, tension, irritation
Causes: Hereditary, pre-pregnancy depression, social tension, relationship issues, financial and family problems, unplanned pregnancy, pregnancy complications, past victim of abuse or violence, no social support, premenstrual dysphoric disorder
Treatment/Prevention: Be aware of depression and resolve to care for your child. Psychotherapy, meditation, relaxation techniques, increased nutrition intake, and daily exercise help to overcome or prevent pregnancy depression. Insulate your mind from negativity, go for lifestyle changes, ensure a sound sleep, increase socialization, and avoid stressful events. Anti-depressants are most prescribed medication for the problem. However, their use has been linked to birth deformities.
Diabetes During Pregnancy
Gestational diabetes mellitus or diabetes during pregnancy is one of the most common complications pregnant women suffer from. Marked by higher level of blood sugar, it could pose serious threats to both maternal and fetal health. It causes the mother to have hypoglycemia, mood swings, blurred vision, unexplained fatigue, hypertension, and pregnancy complications leading to unsafe delivery. The child is at the greater risk of jaundice, macrosomia, hypoglycemia, breathing problems, and other post-natal disorders.
Symptoms: higher level of blood sugar, mood swings, weight loss, blurred vision, unexplained fatigue, increased thirst and urination, frequent hunger,
Causes: Inadequate insulin secretion in the mother, failure of the body to process sugars and starches, obesity, hereditary factors, lack of physical inactivity, dietary habits, stress
Treatment/Prevention: A healthy meal plan and regular physical activity are key to avoid diabetes. Manage diabetes with medication. Never skip or delay in eating your meals. Avoid sugar and saturated fat in food and drink. Don’t allow obesity to overwhelm you.
Ectopic Pregnancy Complications
A serious pregnancy complication, ectopic pregnancy refers to presence of the embryo outside the uterus. This is also referred to as tubal pregnancy, as the embryo remains in the fallopian tube and implant occurs there. Those with pelvic inflammatory disease or previous surgical abortion face the higher risk.
Ectopic pregnancy leads to miscarriage, as the fallopian tube has not adequate ambience to hold a growing uterus and facilitate its proper development. The incident of such pregnancy complication is limited to 1 in every 50 pregnant women.
Symptoms: Sharp or stabbing pain in the lower abdomen, gastrointestinal disorders, recurrent pelvic pain, vaginal bleeding
Causes: Blockage of fallopian tube, tubal inflammation or infection, scar tissues inhibiting transfer of the egg to the uterus, uterine endometriosis, adhesion in the fallopian tube, pelvic inflammatory disease, previous surgical abortion, certain medications
Treatment/Prevention: Medical treatment is essential to treat symptoms of ectopic pregnancy. To prevent it, you should a pelvic exam soon after the pregnancy is confirmed. Most women with ectopic pregnancy first have a successful chance at the second.
Ravneet also blogs at www.wellnessguide.com