May 08, 2010
Occasionally a perfectly fit, healthy woman can have something go wrong with little or no warning. Because there are uncertainties and risks associated with any pregnancy, the importance of antenatal care cannot be overstated. If you suspect that you might have a problem, such as the ones that are addressed below dont hesitate to phone your doctor or midwife right away.
One of the most common problems in pregnancy, vaginal bleeding can be the most alarming. When bleeding occurs, the cause must be found promptly. Your doctor or midwife may ask questions or run special tests. Most of the time, bleeding stops and the baby is carried to term without further problems. However, occasionally bleeding is a sign of a serious problem such as miscarriage. Dont delay if you experience any bleeding during pregnancy. Your health and that of your baby can depend on prompt diagnosis and treatment.
Pregnancy Induced Hypertension
With each antenatal appointment, your blood pressure will be checked. In about 7 out of every 100 women, pregnancy causes hypertension. This often occurs after the 20th week of pregnancy. Pregnancy induced hypertension can be harmful to both baby and mother if not treated. In mild cases, rest can bring blood pressure back to normal levels. However, sometimes if the hypertension is not responding to medical treatment, a baby will have to be delivered pre-term to prevent a complication called eclampsia where the mother experiences seizures and severe muscle contractions. In rare cases, this can be fatal. Make sure to call your midwife or doctor right away if you experience any of the following symptoms that could signal pregnancy-induced hypertension:
Swelling of the face or hands
Severe pain in the upper right part of the abdomen
Sudden, pronounced weight gain
Like pregnancy-induced hypertension, diabetes can also develop during pregnancy in some women. It is caused by hormones made by the placenta that alter the way insulin works. Often, a pregnant woman has no symptoms of gestational diabetes, and this is why you will be asked to provide a urine sample with each antenatal visit. Your urine will be tested for the presence of glucose. The major complication associated with gestational diabetes is macrosomia. Babies with macrosomia are overly large, often too large to fit safely through the birth canal. Overly large babies also often have jaundice, breathing problems, and low glucose levels.
Pre-term labor (labor that starts before the end of the 37th week) can lead to pre-term birth. Approximately 1 in 10 babies born in Great Britain are born pre-term. The earlier that a baby is born, the greater the risk of a problem. While pre-term labor can happen to any woman, there are several factors that are linked to this pregnancy complication such as:
Defects in the uterus or cervix
Infection in the mother
Bleeding during the second trimester of pregnancy
Problems with the placenta such as placenta previa
Premature rupture of membranes
If pre-term labor is diagnosed early, often birth can be postponed. This gives your baby extra time to mature. Make sure to call your midwife or doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms that could signal pre-term labor:
Change in vaginal discharge (especially if its watery or bloody)
Pelvic or abdominal pressure
Abdominal cramping or contractions
Ruptured membranes (your water breaks)
Approximately 10% of babies are not born by the 42nd week of pregnancy. This is not a problem for the vast number of these babies who are born between the 42nd and 44th weeks. However, as a pregnancy moves past 42 weeks, a baby has a higher risk of developing:
Meconium aspiration (inhaling the greenish waste that is emptied from the bowels into the amniotic fluid)
Macrosomia (growing too large to be delivered vaginally)
Dysmaturity syndrome (born malnourished with thin wrinkled skin, long fingernails, and lots of hair)
As you approach your due date, your doctor or midwife will begin closely monitoring the well-being of your baby and the condition of the placenta. If the baby seems to be active and the amniotic fluid appears normal, most likely you will have to wait for labor to begin on its own. If there is any chance of risk to your baby, your labor may be induced with a drug called oxytocin that causes uterine contractions.