It’s inevitable that every pregnant woman will, at one point or another, get nervous about her health or the health of her baby. Common fears can range from some that appear simple (why does my baby always have the hiccups?) to others that could require a call to your OB-GYN (my morning sickness is terrible. Is the baby getting enough to eat?). Most of the time, doctors will assuage most fears, allowing you to breathe a sigh of relief. However, there are some situations which should be taken very seriously. These include:
What it is: A disorder that occurs during pregnancy and the post-partum period and affects both mother and baby. Symptoms include swelling and sudden weight gain, as well as vision changes and headaches. Preeclampsia is characterized by high blood pressure and the presence of protein in the urine, and can have serious, and sometimes fatal complications for both mother and baby since blood flow through the placenta is reduced. This affects organs such as the kidney, liver and brain. Preeclampsia affects about 5% of pregnant women, and is more common if a woman has experienced the condition in a previous pregnancy. As far as who is affected still remains a bit of a mystery, and as of now scientists don’t have an answer as to why some women are afflicted while others are not.
How it’s Treated: Unfortunately, delivery of your baby is the only cure for preeclampsia. This can be difficult if you are diagnosed with the condition too early in your pregnancy to deliver. If you have any symptoms of preeclampsia, contact your doctor right away.
What it is: High glucose (sugar) levels in your pregnancy, despite not having been diabetic beforehand. Most women do not have symptoms of Gestational Diabetes, so the condition is usually discovered during a routine glucose challenge test. If your blood sugar level is high, you return for a second test to determine if you have Gestational Diabetes. The condition, which affects 4% of pregnancies, is more likely to develop in those who are overweight prior to pregnancy, are Hispanic, Black, Native American or Asian in ethnicity, and have previously given birth to a baby that weighs over nine pounds.
How it’s treated: You’ll likely need to monitor your own blood sugar, and possibly take insulin. Gestational Diabetes can result in babies with a higher birth weight and predisposition to diabetes, so a management plan is essential.
Excess Weight Gain
What it is: Although many pregnant women give in to the temptation of an occasional order of French fries or a cookie, unchecked cravings can lead to excess weight gain. Doctors recommend gaining between 25-35 lbs. with pregnancy, but only he or she can determine if you’re experiencing excessive weight gain. This condition can lead to a larger-than-normal baby and challenging delivery, as well as difficulty shedding the pounds post-birth.
How it’s treated: A doctor can help you work out a diet and exercise regimen that includes cutting calories that “don’t count” (such as those fore-mentioned fries and cookies) and focusing on the ones that will help you get and stay healthy. A doctor can also help you find a fitness program that will help you look and feel better.
If you have concerns about these or any other pregnancy condition, consult your doctor immediately.