Pregnancy Complications

Medical Conditions and Pregnancy
With proper medical care, most women can enjoy a healthy pregnancy, despite medical challenges such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
Warning Signs During Pregnancy
Call your health care provider immediately if you have bleeding from the vagina, blurry vision, severe headaches, or other specific symptoms.
Complications of Pregnancy
Some of the more common complications of pregnancy are miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, and bleeding.

Types of Complications

Autoimmune Disorders

Antiphospholipid Syndrome (aPL)
This disease can have serious effects in pregnancy, both for the mother and the baby. These include strokes, blood clots, and recurrent miscarriage.
Myasthenia Gravis and Pregnancy
Pregnant women with MG often have more weakness and fatigue because of the added weight and effort of pregnancy. Preterm labor (labor before 37 weeks of pregnancy) is more likely.
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (Lupus)
Most people who have lupus are young women. The effects of the disease can range from mild to severe.

Blood Pressure Problems

Gestational Hypertension
Pregnancy-induced hypertension is also called toxemia or preeclampsia. It occurs most often in young women with a first pregnancy.
HELLP Syndrome
HELLP syndrome is a serious complication of severe pregnancy-induced high blood pressure. It usually develops before delivery, but may also occur after delivery.
Chronic Hypertension
When a woman has pre-existing hypertension or develops hypertension before the 20th week of pregnancy, this is called chronic hypertension.

Preterm Labor

Preterm Labor
Preterm birth is the greatest problem associated with preterm labor. Although most babies are born after 37 weeks, those born preterm are at increased risks for many complications.
Premature Rupture of Membranes (PROM)/Preterm Premature Rupture of Membranes (PPROM)
Rupture of the membranes near the end of pregnancy may be caused by a natural weakening of the membranes or from the force of contractions.
For More Babies, Birth Comes Too Soon
One in eight U.S. babies is preterm, says the Institute of Medicine. That's a rise of 30 percent in recent decades.


Diabetes and Pregnancy
It's important for a woman with diabetes to keep her blood sugar under tight control while she's pregnant.
Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM)
Gestational diabetes is a condition in which a pregnant woman has elevated glucose levels and other symptoms of diabetes—but did not have diabetes before she became pregnant.
Infant of Diabetic Mother
A baby born to a diabetic mother may need glucose orally or intravenously. The baby's blood glucose levels will be closely monitored after treatment.

Digestive and Liver Disorders

Hyperemesis Gravidarum
Vomiting—especially during the first trimester—is normal for many women during pregnancy. Constantly vomiting is not. Take action to prevent a serious complication.
Cholestasis of Pregnancy
Cholestasis of pregnancy is a condition in which the normal flow of bile in the gallbladder is slowed or stopped resulting in itching and jaundice.
Acute Fatty Liver of Pregnancy
Acute fatty liver of pregnancy is a rare, but serious, condition of pregnancy in which there is an excessive accumulation of fat in the liver or liver cells.

Fetal Growth Problems

Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR)
Newborn babies with this condition often appear thin, pale, and have loose, dry skin. The umbilical cord is often thin and dull-looking rather than shiny and fat.
Very Low Birthweight
Very low birthweight is a term used to describe babies who are born weighing less than 3 pounds, 4 ounces. Only a few babies are born this tiny.
Low Birthweight
If your baby’s birthweight was lower than normal due to premature birth or some other factor, don’t worry. With proper medical attention and your loving care, your baby will soon catch up with the other children in the nursery.
Small for Gestational Age
Although some babies are small because of genetics (their parents are small), most SGA babies are small because of fetal growth problems that occur during pregnancy.
Large for Gestational Age (LGA)
The average baby weighs about 7 pounds at birth. About 10 percent of all babies weigh more than 8 pounds, 13 ounces. Rarely do babies weigh over 10 pounds.

Infections in Pregnancy

Maternal and Fetal Infections
In pregnancy, infections are a common complication—but women may not have obvious symptoms, or they may show different symptoms of an infection.
Group B Streptococcus
You’ve probably never heard of group B streptococcus. That’s because you didn’t need to before you were pregnant. This bacterium generally doesn’t cause problems for healthy nonpregnant women. But it can cause illness in pregnant women and their babies. Here’s what you need to know.
You’ve probably been warned not to eat brie cheese or order your steak cooked to anything less than medium. Why do you have to take these precautions? Listeriosis. Learn more about this food-borne illness and how to avoid it.
Toxoplasmosis is not only harmful to moms-to-be, but also to their unborn babies. If you haven’t heard of toxoplasmosis, you’ll definitely want to brush up on this new word.
It is important that women avoid contracting herpes during pregnancy, because a first episode during pregnancy creates a greater risk of transmission to the newborn.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
Most babies with HIV contract the infection from their HIV-infected mother during pregnancy, or during labor and delivery.
Urinary Tract and Kidney Infections
During pregnancy, the kidney enlarges and the bladder is compressed by the growing uterus. These and other factors make it more likely for a woman to develop a urinary tract infection.
Chorioamnionitis is an infection of the membranes and amniotic fluid. It occurs in about 1 to 2 percent of all pregnancies, but is much more common in preterm births.
Hepatitis B (HBV) in Children
An infant or young child who contracts hepatitis B is at greater risk of staying infected with the virus and of having life-long liver problems, such as scarring of the liver and liver cancer.

Nervous System Disorders

Pregnancy and the Nervous System
Do you know how your nervous system works? This system coordinates all your body’s activities, and chances are it’s functioning normally during your pregnancy. In the rare case that it’s not, here’s what you need to know.
Migraine Headache
Many women experience migraine headaches while pregnant. The good news is that you don’t have to give in to the pain when it strikes. Know what pain-relief options are safest for you.
Epilepsy and Pregnancy
Epilepsy and the medications to treat it can have affect the mother, the pregnancy, and the fetus and newborn. Fortunately, most women are able to have a healthy pregnancy and baby.
Multiple Sclerosis and Pregnancy
Pregnancy does not appear to speed up the course or worsen the effects of MS. Some studies have found that MS symptoms decrease in pregnancy and increase after delivery.

Thyroid Disorders

Hyperthyroidism (Graves' Disease)
Hyperthyroidism means that the thyroid gland is overactive, producing too much thyroid hormone. The excess hormone leads to an overactive metabolism.
Hypothyroidism in Children
Hypothyroidism is the condition in which the thyroid is underactive—producing too little thyroid hormone.
Postpartum Thyroiditis
Postpartum thyroiditis is a temporary but fairly common condition that results in either an overactive or underactive thyroid.

Pregnancy Loss

Overview of Pregnancy Loss
Pregnancy loss occurs in more than half of early pregnancies. Most of these occur so early that the mother does not even know she is pregnant.
Ultrasound is usually used to diagnose miscarriage. If the fetus is no longer in the uterus, or there is no longer a fetal heartbeat, miscarriage is diagnosed.
Coping with Miscarriage
A pregnancy ended by miscarriage can be a traumatic loss. Unfortunately, it’s one that many women experience. Knowing how to deal with your feelings and find support can help you cope during this difficult time.
Ectopic Pregnancy
Ectopic pregnancies nearly always occur in the fallopian tube. Rarely, an ectopic pregnancy will be located in an ovary or in the cervix, or even in the abdomen.
Stillbirth is a common term for death of a baby while still in the uterus. Common causes are high blood pressure or infection in the mother, or placental or cord problems.
Dilation and Curettage (D and C)
A dilation and curettage procedure, also called a D and C, is a surgical procedure in which the cervix is dilated so that the cervical canal and uterine lining can be scraped with a spoon-shaped instrument to remove abnormal tissues.
Pelvic Ultrasound
Ultrasound, or sound wave technology, is used to examine the organs and structures in the female pelvis.

Other Complications

Amniotic Fluid Problems/Hydramnios/Oligohydramnios
Too much or too little amniotic fluid around the fetus can cause problems. These include preterm labor, birth defects, and underdeveloped lungs in the fetus.
Anemia in Pregnancy
Doctor appointments and baby showers aren’t the only things that can tucker you out when you’re pregnant. Anemia is a condition that also can make you feel fatigued. Find out what you need to know to safeguard yourself.
Bleeding in Pregnancy/Placenta Previa/Placental Abruption
Bleeding may occur at various times in pregnancy. Although bleeding is alarming, it may or may not be a serious complication.
Heart Disease and Pregnancy
In pregnancy, blood volume increases greatly. This extra fluid puts an increased workload on the heart and may cause problems for a woman with heart disease.
Post-Term Pregnancy
A pregnancy that lasts more than 42 weeks is considered post-term. Post-term pregnancy is associated with longer labors and the need for cesarean delivery.
Rh Disease
Rh disease occurs during pregnancy when there is an incompatibility between the blood types of the mother and baby.
Sickle Cell Disease in Children
Sickle cell disease involves the red blood cells, or hemoglobin, and their ability to carry oxygen.
Asthma and Pregnancy
With proper asthma management and good prenatal care, most women with asthma can have healthy pregnancies.

Multiple Pregnancy

Overview of Multiple Pregnancy
Multiple pregnancy is a pregnancy with two or more fetuses. In the United States, the multiple birth rate is rising.
Symptoms and Diagnosis of Multiple Pregnancy
Every pregnant woman feels like she’s getting big, but if you’re pregnant with two or more babies, you’ll really be growing fast. Be prepared by learning the signs of a multiple birth.
Complications of Multiple Pregnancy
Having more than one baby is especially exciting—and complicated. Find out what to watch for, including a greater chance of anemia and preterm birth.
Care and Management of Multiple Pregnancy
A woman with a multiple pregnancy needs more calories and nutrients, more frequent prenatal visits, and more rest.
Newborn Multiples
Because many multiples are small and born early, they may be initially cared for in a special care nursery called the neonatal intensive care unit.