One of the best ways to head off complications during pregnancy is to follow the old adage, “Prevention is better than cure” Register with a good prenatal clinic near your home, and go for regular checkups.
Many places have free or subsidised prenatal testing, provided by their public health service. Find out the rules and procedures where you live and where to get the best access to competent health professionals.
Once you have registered at the clinic or with the healthcare provider of your choice, you will take regular blood tests, urine tests, and do ultrasounds at various points. Your weight gain will also be monitored, as well as changes in the shape of the uterus as your baby develops. Additionally, you will be offered the choice of taking various prenatal genetic tests, depending on your age and other individual factors. At various points, the doctor will do a sonogram, listening to your baby’s heartbeat.
By doing all of these tests, you are most likely to head off any potential trouble at the earliest stages. At the same time, you will feel reassured whenever the doctor tells you that everything is developing nicely and that you are having a healthy pregnancy. You will also have a reliable place to ask all of your pregnancy questions.
Below are some of the pregnancy complications that you are being tested for and are seeking to avoid:
There are various types of preeclampsia, and in some cases the baby has to be induced, even if this means a preterm birth. However, treatment does not always have to be this radical, and if caught early enough preeclampsia can be treated through bed rest, changing the diet, avoiding stress, or having to go into hospital for a while. If you experience high blood pressure, dizziness, sudden swelling in the wrists or ankles, headaches, and disturbances in your vision, do not hesitate to contact your healthcare professional.
Constantly monitoring your blood pressure and protein testing will go a long way to helping you catch this condition before it spirals out of hand. Do not stress about it. Just do the relevant tests and don’t worry about it unless there is a reason to do so.
Apart from the complications that you are screened for, sometimes certain things may arise unexpectedly. For example, as you are well aware, one of the first pregnancy symptoms is missing a period. In theory, you will not see any blood from then on until you actually give birth. So what do you do if you find that you are bleeding during pregnancy? What does this mean?
In very early pregnancy, you might have a tiny bit of spotting due to a partially repressed period. At that stage, your hormones might not have caught up with your new state and you will still have a very scanty period. This, however, is quite rare. Sometimes, bleeding is caused by a cervical erosion, which when the cervix is inflamed and sore. This can be for a variety of reasons, from venereal disease to a reaction to the previous use of an IUD.
On the other hand, bleeding can also be the first sign of a miscarriage. Is the blood heavy? Is it red, indicating that it is fresh, or brown, showing that it is old and possibly from another source? Do you feel cramps or pain with it? When and how did it start?
Sometimes, bleeding can be a sign of placenta previa, when the placenta moves to cover all or part of the cervix. Depending on the extent and type of previa, it can also be diagnosed before any bleeding occurs. In this case, the woman is often put on bed rest and told to refrain from sexual intercourse until the situation resolves itself. If there is bleeding, the situation is more complex and sometimes, depending on various factors, the baby is delivered with an emergency Caesarean section, or the woman may have to remain on bed rest until the end of the pregnancy. In this situation, constant blood transfusions and certain injections may be given until the mother can deliver. Placenta previa is even more serious if it occurs at term, as it can cause various complications for the baby.
In light of everything written above, it is important to remember that you should never ignore pregnancy bleeding and just assume that everything will be all right. If there is even just a little bit of blood, you should contact your healthcare provider as soon as you can. And if the clinic is closed, or you are experiencing heavy bleeding and cramps, don’t wait around. Get to the nearest emergency room and find out exactly what is going on. Only a medical professional is really qualified to tell you what is going on and what can be done.
Carrying twins does not exactly fall into the same category as bleeding or preeclampsia. There is actually nothing more delightful than the birth of an extra, healthy baby. However, a twin pregnancy definitely has more risks associated with it than a regular singleton birth. First of all, you will feel far more uncomfortable and heavy while you are expecting. All the hormones are more in evidence, so you may experience stronger pregnancy signs, as well as more intense varicose veins and back pain, both of which can feel a lot worse especially towards the end because you will also be carrying extra weight. Obviously, you will feel more tired for the same reason and will need more rest.
But discomfort is not the only problem here. Multiples are higher risk pregnancies. For example, the risk of miscarriage is higher. There is even the phenomenon of “vanishing twin syndrome,” when one twin is lost and reabsorbed into the mother’s body without any outward signs of loss beyond an empty sac or a disappearing foetus on an ultrasound image.
Due to overcrowding in the womb, you are also far more at risk of preterm labour. The babies effectively almost push each other out. Around 70% of twins are delivered before the 38th week, though usually after the 28th week.
Another syndrome to watch out for is preeclampsia (see above), which has a higher incidence among women carrying twins or multiples. For this reason, such women are monitored more closely and are constantly tested for high blood pressure and protein levels in the urine.
If you are expecting twins, don’t allow these potential pregnancy complications to worry you. All you need to do is do the necessary tests, pay close attention to your diet and general health and make sure that you never get dehydrated. It is also vitally important that you rest enough and do not allow yourself to get too stressed. Obviously, if you see or feel anything that is worrying you or seems unusual, you must not wait around. Consult with your healthcare professional immediately.
One of the complications in pregnancy that many women dread is preterm labour, which refers to going into labour before the 38th week. There are various reasons why a woman may go into labour too early. For example, she may have an incompetent cervix, which means that her cervix will not support the baby till the very end of the pregnancy. This kind of complication can be foreseen and may mean that the mother has to go on bed rest either at home or in hospital until it is safe enough for her to deliver the baby, or her cervix may be given a stitch that is only removed during labour.
Other reasons for preterm labour are various types of infections, placenta problems, too much physical work, various structural problems with the uterus and/or cervix, and more. Some of these reasons are unforeseen, so you should be alert for any possible signs of early labour.
If you feel certain symptoms, like steady contractions before they are supposed to happen, vaginal bleeding, severe cramping in the pelvic area that is different from anything you have felt until now, intense pelvic pressure, severe pain when you urinate, or a sudden, unexpected gush of clear water, get medical assistance right away.
While it is important to know about various complications with pregnancy, it is also vital to be relaxed while you are expecting. For some reason, people often like to share their horror stories with you almost as soon as they find out that you have conceived. But while it may be fun to spread the word about the “miracle birth” and “how I nearly died,” this can be terrible source of worry for an expectant mother.
The most important thing to do is make sure that you are as healthy as possible before conception and during the months afterwards. Always do the necessary testing and never miss checkups, as they are a vital part of monitoring a healthy pregnancy and your preparation for birth. The rest is not in your hands. Therefore, you should always be alert, but not obsessed. Think how many women around the world conceive and deliver babies without any pregnancy complications at all.