It’s natural to worry about your baby. But if you happen to have a complication during your pregnancy, remember that many moms-to-be who have complications deliver perfectly healthy babies. One of the reasons prenatal care is so important is because it helps us find health concerns early so we can monitor them more closely.
Here are a few common health concerns and conditions that can affect your pregnancy. If you don’t see what you’re looking for, check our more complete list of problems and complications.
Diabetes and gestational diabetes
Unless it’s managed, diabetes can damage your heart, kidneys, nerves, and blood vessels. It also increases your risk for complications during pregnancy. If you’re diabetic, it’s especially important to keep blood sugar under control while you’re pregnant. Managing your diabetes well and monitoring your blood sugar closely will be part of your prenatal care plan from the very start.
Some women have diabetes before they become pregnant. Some women develop it during pregnancy. This is known as gestational diabetes. Most women are screened for gestational diabetes between the 24th and 28th weeks of pregnancy, but we may test for it earlier based on your health and family history.
It’s a very simple test — we’ll give you a sugary drink, and take a blood sample before and after you drink it. By looking at the two samples, we can see how your body is responding to glucose and whether or not you have gestational diabetes.
If you’re diagnosed with gestational diabetes, we’ll help you learn how to keep it under control, and make monitoring your blood sugar part of your prenatal care plan. We’ll also strongly encourage you to breastfeed your baby. Breastfeeding benefits all moms and babies, but it’s especially important for women with gestational diabetes to nurse. That’s because your risk for developing type 2 diabetes later increases if you’ve had gestational diabetes in the past, but breastfeeding your baby cuts that risk in half.*
*Gunderson et al, Annals of Internal Medicine, 2015.
Learn more about diabetes during pregnancy and how to avoid complications for you and your baby.
In an ectopic pregnancy, the fertilized egg attaches itself in a location other than the uterus (most often in the fallopian tube). Unfortunately, there is no way to save an ectopic pregnancy.
Learn more about ectopic pregnancy and how it’s diagnosed and treated.
Many factors can create a high-risk pregnancy. Age, health problems, and alcohol or drug use are some of the things that can put mothers and babies at risk. And while “high-risk” can sound scary, it really just means you’ll get extra TLC from your care team. We’ll monitor you more closely, and might need to see you more often.
Find out what conditions put you at risk, and steps you can take to have a healthy pregnancy.
A miscarriage is when a pregnancy ends and the baby is lost before 20 weeks — usually within the first trimester. Miscarriages are physically and emotionally difficult. Disappointment, sadness, anger, and guilt are common emotions for women dealing with a loss like this. Miscarriages are usually the body’s way of ending a pregnancy that has gotten off to a bad start. Unfortunately, they’re quite common — they end 15 to 20% of all pregnancies.
If you have a miscarriage, know that you’re not alone. Reach out to your support network, and give yourself time to grieve. If you need help getting through it, we can help you find it.
Pregnant women who are obese have a higher risk of problems during pregnancy, including high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, and preeclampsia. And while babies born to mothers who are obese have a higher risk of birth defects, it’s important to remember that most pregnant women who are obese have healthy babies.
The placenta is your baby’s personal nutrition center. It develops during pregnancy to give oxygen and nutrients to your growing baby through the umbilical cord. Normally, the placenta grows in the upper part of the uterus and doesn’t get in the way of the birth canal. With placenta previa, the placenta attaches to the lowest part of the uterus and covers all or part of the cervix. This can make vaginal birth more difficult and dangerous.
Preeclampsia is a kind of high blood pressure that develops only during pregnancy. It can happen anytime in a pregnancy, but it’s more common after 20 weeks. Preeclampsia can keep your baby from getting enough blood and oxygen, and it also can harm your liver, kidneys, and brain. If you develop preeclampsia, make sure to come to all of your prenatal visits so we can be sure you and your baby stay healthy.
Learn more about preeclampsia and what you can do to minimize your risk.
Preterm labor and premature birth
Preterm labor, also known as premature labor, is when labor happens between 20 and 37 weeks — before the pregnancy is full-term. The earlier a baby is delivered, the greater the chances that he or she will have serious problems. This is because many of the baby’s organs — especially the heart and lungs — aren’t fully developed yet.