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What are the Most Common Pregnancy Complications?

Pregnancy often is a joyous time for the expectant mother, but it also can be a time of worry or concern about potential problems. Though most women go through pregnancy and birth with few or no complications, there are numerous possible issues. Even previously healthy women might experience the most common pregnancy complications, including health conditions such as high blood pressure or gestational diabetes, abnormal bleeding, placental complications or preterm labor.

Pregnancy-induced hypertension occurs when a pregnant woman develops high blood pressure. Additional symptoms might include fluid retention, nausea, weight gain, headaches, blurred vision, pain and protein in the urine, depending on the severity and classification of the hypertension. Most women with this complication deliver a healthy baby, but it can lead to more severe problems in some cases. There is no cure, but a doctor might recommend medication or bed rest to lower risk.

Another of the common pregnancy complications that directly affects a mother’s health is gestational diabetes. In this case, a woman who had no history of diabetes or prediabetes develops the condition during pregnancy. She might be able to manage symptoms with a balanced diet and exercise, or she might need to take insulin. Gestational diabetes can increase the risk of delivery problems or health issues for the baby.

One of the most mysterious pregnancy complications is bleeding, because it could indicate severe problems or no problem at all. Some light bleeding during the first trimester is not uncommon. Later in the pregnancy, bleeding is more likely to indicate a serious problem. A pregnant woman should track the amount and frequency of any bleeding and discuss it with her doctor.

Some placental pregnancy complications include placenta abruption or placenta previa. Placenta abruption is when the placenta separates from the uterine wall, which can lead to oxygen deprivation for the baby and blood loss for the mother. The major symptom of this complication is heavy bleeding. With placenta previa, the placenta is implanted low in the uterus, often blocking the cervix. Women with placenta previa almost certainly will have to have a cesarean section.

Another common pregnancy complication is preterm labor. A typical pregnancy lasts 38 to 42 weeks. Preterm labor is when a woman goes into labor before 37 weeks. Babies who are born preterm are at greater risk for health problems or even death. In some cases, preterm labor can be stopped with medication.

Not all pregnancy complications can be prevented. Expectant mothers can reduce the risk of complications by having early and regular prenatal checkups and following medical providers’ suggestions. A woman also should maintain a healthy diet, take prenatal vitamins and avoid drugs, cigarettes and alcohol.

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