Pregnancy complications Part IV article includes Swollen Ankles, Syphilis During Pregnancy, Urinary Tract Infections, Vaginal Bleeding, Vaginal Discharge, Weight Gain/ Obesity, Vaginal Bacterial Infection, and Yeast Infections. 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.
An uneventful pregnancy is the ultimate desire of every mother. She puts her all efforts to prevent pregnancy complications from upsetting her health and cause problems for the baby in the womb. However, unknowingly complications creep into pregnancy and pose a threat to overturn her care and give rise to concerns. Awareness is the only way to be prepared for such an eventuality and strengthen your ability to prevent or treat effectively such an illness and enjoy the precious nine months.
Swollen Ankles During Pregnancy
Puffy ankles and swollen feet are a common occurrence during pregnancy. The swelling in ankles, legs, hands, feet, and even face is usually visible around the fifth month into pregnancy though it may occur earlier and later. There an increase in it in the third trimester. Though swelling does not cause any major pregnancy complications, but it must be cared for when persists and severe.
Symptoms: Swelling in ankles, legs, hands, feet, or face
Causes: Pregnancy leads to about 50 percent increase in blood and body fluids to keep the body soft. Thus, a pregnant woman retains more body fluid.The growing uterus too stress the veins and cause less return of blood to the mother’s heart leading to fluid retention in ankles, legs, and other parts. Long physical activity, heat, higher potassium, and caffeine increase the fluid retention visibility.
Treatment/Prevention: Cut down on food with high level of potassium, caffeine, and sodium, whenever there is swelling take rest, increase water intake, keep your feet elevated, ensure your shoes are comfortable enough, and avoid long periods of standing or walking.
Syphilis During Pregnancy
A venereal disease caused by Treponema pallidum virus, syphilis can be contagious. Primarily transmitted through sexual contact, it can cross the placenta and infect the baby inside at any stage of pregnancy.
Syphilis during pregnancy has a 50 percent chance of infecting the fetus. It has the potential to infect liver, skin, facial parts, heart, and even the bone marrow of the baby and cause serious pregnancy complications leading to death of the child. It may be born with neurological problems or organ deformities. Mothers too face the threat of intrauterine growth restriction, problems during delivery, miscarriage, and stillbirth.
Symptoms: Emergence of inflamed, elevated, and painful skin (papule), painless vaginal ulcers, frequent papule or ulcer development, pustular lesions, body rash with fever, frequent flu-like conditions, anorexia, wart-like growths, later-stage neurological problems and cardiovascular lesions., ultrasound indicating a large placenta or liver lesions in the baby
Causes: Venereal infection caused by Treponema pallidum virus
Treatment/Prevention: Antibiotics prescribed for treatment of syphilis. Those with previous infection should be more careful and undergo regular checkups. Prenatal care and safe sex are important.
Urinary Tract Infections During Pregnancy
Alteration in the urinary tract is the reason behind increase in urinary tract infection during pregnancy. The uterus is located on the top of the bladder. With the fetus growing in size, it blocks the urine drainage to some extent increasing the risk of infection.
Urinary tract infection has the potential to cause kidney infection, which, in turn, may result in labor earlier than expected. It may result in low birth weight and other problems in the child.
Symptoms: Burning pain in the abdomen, urination pain, low fever, increased urination frequency, blood in urine
Causes: Bacteria in the bladder, bladder infection
Treatment/Prevention: Urinary tract pregnancy complications are treated with antibiotics. A pregnant woman is well placed to prevent occurrence of the infection with increased water and fluid intake, shunning of refined and canned food, limiting sugar intake, and have adequate Vitamin C in the food. Ensure you urinate as soon as whenever there is an urge. Avoid public urinations and unclean places. Don’t continue to wear the same underwear for days at a time.
Vaginal Bleeding During Pregnancy
Light vaginal bleeding or spotting in the first trimester poses no serious threat to maternal or fetal health. However, excessive bleeding during the first three months indicates the potential of miscarriage. If there is any bleeding incident in the second or third trimester, there may be a risk of infection or pregnancy complications.
Symptoms: Vaginal bleeding
- Light vaginal bleeding early in the pregnancy is due to planting of the growing embryo and pelvic or urinary tract infections. But excessive bleeding in the first four months is linked to the possibility of ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, or molar pregnancy. Bleeding with lower abdominal cramps may signal the possibility of miscarriage.
- Vaginal bleeding in the second half of pregnancy may be due to cervical changes,
vaginal infections, mucus extrication from vagina, placental abruption, bleeding from low-laying placenta, or pre-term labor.
Treatment/Prevention: Consult your doctor as soon as possible.
Vaginal Discharge During Pregnancy
Vaginal discharge during pregnancy is extricably linked to internal mechanism in the body. With the softening of vaginal and cervix walls due to pregnancy, the discharge is made to avert any risk of infection spreading to the uterus.
If there is thin, white, milky, and mild smelling discharge from the vagina, it is considered normal. Even excessive discharge of such type or thick mucus is visible toward the last few weeks of pregnancy along with urine. Thick mucus discharge is a sign of preparation for labor.
However, when strong smelling green or yellowish discharge is there, you need immediate medical advice. It is possible that there is some kind of infection.
Symptoms: Watery discharge from vagina, thin, white, milky, and mild smelling discharge, strong smelling green or yellowish discharge
Causes: Pregnancy related, infection
Treatment/Prevention: Keep the vaginal area clean and dry, use comfortable and clean underwear, and avoid perfumed bath products.
Vaginal Bacterial Infection During Pregnancy
Attributed to the imbalance in the presence of bacteria, bacterial vaginosis is a mild infection normal during pregnancy. It does not cause any serious problem for the majority of pregnant women. However, for those vulnerable to other pregnancy complications, the infection is a cause of concern.
Both good and bad bacteria coexist in the vagina and the former put a check on the latter. However, when the amount of bad bacteria overwhelms that of the good bacteria, there is the likelihood of infection. The reason for bacterial imbalance is traced to health and lifestyle factors, such as smoking, absence of hygiene, douching, wet vagina, use of the same undergarment for days, vaginal discharge, and unprotected sexual activity.
Between 10 to 20 percent pregnant women have bacterial vaginosis. Change in the vaginal pH level is also a causative factor. It is more common in women who had intrauterine devices prior to the pregnancy.
Symptoms: Grayish/yellowish white vaginal discharge with smell, but no itching. Infection signs are similar to that of sexually transmitted and yeast infections, and lower abdominal pain.
Causes: Bacterial imbalance in vagina, low vaginal pH level, lack of vaginal hygiene, wet vagina, use of the same undergarment for days, vaginal discharge, unprotected sexual activity.
Treatment/ Prevention: Bacterial vaginosis infection resolves on its own. However, the infection along with vaginal discharge and abdominal pain persist, you need to consult your doctor. A balanced vaginal pH level and increased yogurt in diet may also help. To prevent bacterial infection of vagina, it is desirable to limit sexual partners, practice safe sex, avoid douching, and maintain genital hygiene.
Weight Gain/ Obesity-Linked Pregnancy Complications
Pregnancy adds pounds and we accept it as normal. However, it is fine to an extent when we have slow and steady gain within a healthy range – up to 5 pounds in the first trimester, up to 12 to 14 in the second, and 10 to 15 in the third. The overall weight gain of 25 to 35 pounds for average weight, 28 to 40 pounds for underweight, and 15 to 20 pounds for an overweight pregnant woman is within acceptable norms.
However, already overweight women gaining too much extra weight increase the risk of pregnancy complications, including diabetes, hypertension, preeclampsia, stillbirth, and difficulties during delivery. Obesity complicates pregnancy and affects the child too.
Symptoms: Overweight, quick weight gain, obesity, restricted physical activity, hypertension, diabetes
Causes: Overeating, lack of physical activity, being overweight prior to pregnancy, pre-pregnancy obesity, eating more protein, junk, and fried foods
Treatment/Prevention: Check your weight regularly and ensure it is not more than 2 to 4 pounds in the first trimester and 1 pound a week thereafter. However, don’t sacrifice you diet for fear to weight gain. Better consult a nutritionist and prepare a dietary plan.You can lose weight, but only under medical supervision. Go for small meals spread out 5 to 6 times a day with wholegrain, oats, nuts, dried fruit, and yogurt. Avoid saturated fat and sugary drinks and prefer easy snacks.
Yeast Infections During Pregnancy
Pregnant women often discover yeast infection around the vaginal area. This type of vaginal infection is caused and percepeted by fungi belonging to the Candida family. Not considered a serious pregnancy complication, it is more common around the second trimester.
Yeast has a normal presence in the intestine tract and vaginal area. During the pregnancy, a rise in the estrogen level contributes to the increased vaginal production of glycogen, which facilitates the growth of these microorganisms. This yeast overgrowth and overwhelming presence result in infection.
It does not affect the baby in the womb, but may cause it to be infected during the birth.
Symptoms: Increased thin, white, and smelling discharge, itchiness and irritation in the vaginal area, burning sensation while urinating, labia redness
Causes: Yeast overgrowth and expansion, intake antibiotics or steroids
Treatment/Prevention: Apply vaginal creams suggested by a medical practitioner to treat. To prevent, keep the vaginal area clean and dry, wear loose, cotton, and breathable underwear, never leave your vaginal area wet, avoid wearing clothing used by others and public lavatories, don’t apply soaps around the vagina and perfumed toilet paper for a few days, restrict sugar in your food while increase yogurt intake.
Ravneet also blogs at www.wellnessguide.com