The majority of pregnancies occur without any serious issues. However, some women will experience complications during pregnancy that can involve their health, baby’s health, or both. Diseases or conditions the mother had before becoming pregnant can sometimes lead to complications.
Common Complications During Pregnancy
Although many problems are mild and don’t progress, you should always contact your health care provider if you have any concerns during your pregnancy. Most pregnancy complications are manageable with early detection and prompt treatment. The most common complications during pregnancy include:
High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure occurs when the arteries that carry blood from the heart to the organs and the placenta are narrowed. High blood pressure is associated with a higher risk of many other complications, like preeclampsia. It puts you at a higher risk of having a baby well before your due date. Doctors call this preterm delivery. It also increases your risk of having a small baby. It’s important to control your blood pressure with medications during pregnancy.
Gestational diabetes occurs when your body cannot process sugars effectively. This complication during pregnancy leads to higher-than-normal levels of sugar in the bloodstream. Some women will need to modify their meal plans to help control blood sugar levels. Others may need to take insulin to keep their blood sugar levels in control. Gestational diabetes usually resolves after pregnancy.
Preeclampsia is also called toxemia. It occurs after the first 20 weeks of pregnancy and causes high blood pressure and possible problems with your kidneys. The recommended treatment for preeclampsia is delivery of the baby and placenta to prevent the disease from progressing. Your doctor will discuss the risks and benefits regarding the timing of delivery.
Preterm labor occurs when you go into labor before week 37 of your pregnancy. It happens before your baby’s organs, such as the lungs and the brain, have finished developing. Certain medications can stop labor. Doctors usually recommend bed rest to keep the baby from being born too early.
A miscarriage is the loss of a pregnancy during the first 20 weeks. Up to 20 percent of pregnancies among healthy women will end in a miscarriage. Sometimes, this happens before a woman is even aware of the pregnancy. In most cases, miscarriage isn’t preventable.
A loss of pregnancy after week 20 of pregnancy is called a stillbirth. Many times, the cause for this isn’t known. Issues found to cause stillbirths may include problems with the placenta, chronic health issues in the mother, and infections.
Who is at risk for complications?
If you already have a chronic condition or illness, talk to your doctor about minimizing any complications before you get pregnant. Also, your doctor may need to monitor the pregnancy if you’re already pregnant,
Examples of common diseases and conditions that can cause complications to include:
- High Blood Pressure
- Sexually Transmitted Diseases (Including HIV)
- Kidney Problems
Other factors that may increase your risk for complications include:
- Pregnancy at Age 35 or Older
- Pregnancy at a Young Age
- Eating Disorder
- Smoking Cigarettes
- Using Illegal Drugs
- Drinking Alcohol
- History of Pregnancy Loss or Preterm Birth
- Carrying Multiples (such as twins or triplets)
For more information regarding complications during pregnancy, go to
If you have questions about pregnancy complications or need a health care provider, contact Creekside Center for Women at 479.582.9268.