Pregnancy is the period during which fetus development into the mother’s uterus takes place. The time period of pregnancy is 9 months (40 weeks). The time from last menstrual period date is noted as the start of pregnancy. The whole period of pregnancy is divided by healthcare providers into three trimesters each consisting of 3 months.
Pregnancy might come with some symptoms and complications depending upon the physiology of the mother. These may include mild to moderate discomfort to annoying and in some cases life-threatening situations. Sometimes it might be difficult to recognize between normal and life-threatening symptoms during pregnancy. There can be several physical and medical conditions that can affect mother’s health and baby growth. In some cases, previous mental and physical health conditions of some women become more pronounced in pregnancy. For instance issues of depression and blood pressure can become worse when a woman gets pregnant. However, in many cases, some problems do not even progress in pregnancy and the whole pregnancy goes without any unusual symptoms. Pregnancy-related problems can be managed in different ways depending upon the situation. Your healthcare provider can give you the best advice about the management of issues arising during pregnancy.
Some common medical conditions that may be encountered during pregnancy are discussed below:
1. Nausea & Vomiting
Nausea and vomiting are some common conditions happening during pregnancy. Nausea is more pronounced in the mornings and it is believed that HCG human growth hormone increase in pregnancy becomes the cause of such issues which resolves during the first three months. This hormone is released by placenta. In some cases when severe nausea and vomiting are present and persist through the pregnancy this condition is called hyperemesis gravidarum (HG). Loss of hydration as a result of this issue can result in dehydration and intensive treatment may be needed for symptoms such as shortness of breath, feeling sleepy, weak or tired and looking pale. Restoration of normal hydration and healthier blood cells is required. It needs hydration therapy and medication to reduce nausea and vomiting.
Hyperemesis gravidarum may also result in reduced appetite leading to the reduced weight of mother and weaker baby. In such a situation, fluid therapy along with dry, bland food is recommended as the first line of treatment. Sometimes when with HG are needed to be hospitalized and put on fluid nutrients through IV. Usually such women start feeling much better when they reach 20th week of the pregnancy. However there are some cases when women feel nausea throughout the 9 months. Dry, bland foods and fluids together are the first line of treatment. Sometimes, medicines are prescribed to help nausea. Many women with HG have to be hospitalized so they can be fed fluids and nutrients through a tube in their veins. Usually, women with HG begin to feel better by the 20th week of pregnancy. But some women vomit and feel nauseated throughout all three trimesters. If you feel unwell due to nausea or vomiting symptoms, consult your GP, our home doctors can assist with treatment and management of nausea or vomiting episodes that you may experience.
2. Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
During pregnancy, urinary tract infections caused by bacteria may popup. The mother might feel burning and pain during urination. Tiredness, nausea, back pain, cloudy or reddish urine mild to moderate fever and shakiness can be experienced. Treating UTI at home is not recommended. You should consult your GP or an after-hours GP during the after-hours period. It is important see the doctor and get a urine sampling test. Antibiotic is recommended to treat infection in UTI. Our home doctors will usually test urine for signs of bacterial infection and provide you with a medications & treatment options where necessary.
3. High Blood Pressure (BP)
Another common condition in pregnancy is high BP. It is a condition that can place the baby and her mother in a life-threatening situation. At the same time the chances of maternal complications also increase. These may include preeclampsia external, situation in which placenta gets separated from uterus. At the same time. Gestational diabetes and poor birth outcomes such as preterm delivery and infant death are also some issues that might happen. Appropriate treatment is needed to control mother’s BP and keep it in suitable limits. For this sake medication along with a useful dietary plan is devised. If you are concerned about your BP during pregnancy, seek medical advice from your GP. High blood pressure may not appear at the start of pregnancy. When it appears late such as in the 20th weeks of pregnancy will go away after birth of the child. It is important to give extra care to baby and mother to avoid the chances of preeclampsia.
4. Gestational Diabetes
Gestational diabetes is a condition when an otherwise healthy woman faces a high level of blood sugar during pregnancy. The symptoms might not be very prominent but it can result in complications such as depression, C-section at an early stage and risk of pre-eclampsia. Being overweight increases the chance of gestational diabetes. Treatment will require an anti-diabetic diet, weight loss, exercise, and insulin dose. When the sugar level in mother’s blood is too high than normal it suggests gestational diabetes. Sometimes it comes with symptoms such as weakness, thirst, hunger, and fatigue but screening tests show increased level of blood sugar. Gestational diabetes can be confirmed with simple pathology tests that show blood sugar levels. As part of your routine pregnancy screening, your GP will arrange for this investigation. Pregnancy-related diabetes is controlled with the help of a meal plan that is suggested by your nutrients. However, when it is not possible to control with diet, treatment in the form of insulin is given to control blood sugar levels. If left uncontrolled the chances of cesarean birth and other birth-related complications increase. Mothers with diabetes are also at risk of giving birth to a big baby that may make delivery difficult. Other than that baby can also born with low blood sugar levels or breathing problems. Sometimes the changes of jaundice are also much higher in such babies.
5. Depression, Anxiety and Mental Health
Pregnancy is a stressful situation when a lot of hormonal changes are taking place in a women’s body. It can result in symptoms of depression such as sadness, being gloomy. Losing interest in activities, lack of energy, sleep and appetite, a feeling of worthlessness and inability to concentrate on situations. Such issues might also arise after pregnancy is over and are categorized as post-pregnancy depression. When the symptoms of depression occur and persist for more than 10 days it is important to see your GP or an after-hours GP. A woman cannot take care of herself and her baby if she is depressed. Risk factors of postpartum depression also increase when women face depression before pregnancy. The plan for management is given by psychiatrist with the medication that is safest for mother and her unborn child.
Anemia is a common condition that may be encountered during pregnancy. This is a situation when the number of healthy red blood cells reduces from the normal number. This might happen because of some underlying condition that is important to be identified and treated. Restoration of healthy red blood cells require iron therapy in the form of medication and eating food that is rich in iron. Folic acid supplement along with iron is effective to improve the level of iron on blood. Your GP can discuss what is most beneficial for your dietary needs if you experience Anemia.
7. Weight Gain
Weight gain during pregnancy is normal, when considering that the baby is growing in the womb. However, abnormal weight gain can be a concern, particularly when a woman is healthier or overweight/obese before pregnancy. This increases the chances of preterm birth, the risk of C-section delivery and gestational diabetes. Sometimes, longer bed rest because of other complications also leads to weight gain. The chances of complications increase when the mother is overweight. It is important to lose weight before pregnancy. Also following a healthy dietary plan is also necessary to avoid such complications. If you are planning your pregnancy and are concerned about your weight, please speak to your GP for further advice.
8. External Infection
External infections such as common cold, a stomach infection, and related illnesses can be harmful both for mother and her baby. A mother should try to protect herself from infection by undertaking appropriate hygienic practices such as washing hands and avoiding foods that are not healthy. Whenever such infection occurs it is important to see the doctor. Another severe kind of external infection that the mother can get exposed to include STD, TB, Viral hepatitis and HIV. These are the infections that result in serious aftereffects for baby and mother. It is critical to undertake screening treatment for this infection and provide vaccine against them if possible.
Ectopic pregnancy: Ectopic pregnancy is a situation when fertilized eggs do not implant in uterus. It either stays in fallopian tube or implants outside the uterus. The symptoms may include shoulder pain, abdominal pain, getting faint or feeling dizzy. Vaginal bleeding may also happen in such a situation. An ectopic pregnancy does not result in the development of egg and surgery is required to remove the egg from the ectopic tissue because it can leave the body organs or tissues damaged.
Some complications during pregnancy are identified during pregnancy through vital sings and ultrasound. It includes fetal issues such as heart problems or poor growth of the baby. Prenatal care tests are done when the baby shows less movement than normal. Another abnormality can be smaller size of the baby than normal for a given gestational age. Sometimes problems might not show symptoms and prenatal tests can help identify them.
The treatment of the above prenatal problems might need further tests that can help monitor the health and development of the baby inside the uterus. In many cases pregnancy goes without complications even with such problems. Sometimes mother needs to take special care of herself and her baby until the delivery. Such care needs are suggested according to the situation including supplements, bed rest and pre-term delivery.
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