Complications during pregnancy can be troublesome, and even life-threatening for would-be mothers. Some of these complications need immediate attention.
Pregnancy induced hypertension or PIH develops in a pregnant woman after 20 weeks of pregnancy. This is a condition characterized by high blood pressure during pregnancy. Pregnancy induced hypertension can also lead to a serious condition called preeclampsia, a disorder that increases protein in urine.
Commonly, pregnancy induced hypertension is classified into three types:
Chronic Hypertension: Women suffering from high blood pressure (over 140/90) before or in early pregnancy are affected by chronic hypertension. These women can continue to have high blood pressure after delivery as well.
Gestational Hypertension: High blood pressure that affects pregnant women after 20 weeks of pregnancy is called gestational hypertension. However, after delivery, gestational hypertension gets cured by itself.
Preeclampsia: Chronic as well as gestational hypertension can lead to preeclampsia. This is a severe condition that affects pregnant woman after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Symptoms include high blood pressure and protein in the urine. Preeclampsia can also cause serious complications during delivery of the child that can affect both mother and the child. Severe preeclampsia can shoot blood pressure up to 160/110. It may also cause other severe health conditions.
HELLP syndrome, a life-threatening pregnancy complication, is another type of preeclampsia. It is a combination of hemolytic anemia, elevated liver enzymes and low platelet count.
- First-time mothers
- Women who have high blood pressure or a kidney condition before pregnancy
- Pregnant women carrying multiples
- Pregnant women who are younger than 20 and older than 40
- Family history where a girl’s sister or mother had PIH
The most common cause of hyperthyroidism in pregnancy is the autoimmune disorder. This disorder is referred to as Graves’disease that causes thyroid gland to produce thyroid hormone in excess. In this disorder, an antibody (a protein produced by the body when it thinks that bacteria or a virus is going to invade the body) is generated, which in result causes thyroid gland to produce thyroid gland in excess.
Hypothyroidism, during pregnancy is the result of autoimmune disorder called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. This is caused when body incorrectly attacks the thyroid gland cells. This leaves thyroid hormone without enough enzymes and cells that are required to make thyroid hormone.
Thyroid hormone plays an important role during pregnancy. It is crucial for maintaining healthy development of baby and health of the mother.
In some pregnancy cases, pregnant women may experience symptoms similar to hyperthyroidism. This usually occurs during the first trimester. Weight loss, frequent vomiting, palpitations are some symptoms that may require immediate medical attention.
If thyroid is not treated, it may cause premature birth. In some cases it may also cause preeclampsia and even miscarriage. If you have any history of hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism you need to inform your doctor.
Some symptoms of hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism in pregnancy are:
Lack of concentration
Sensitivity to cold temperatures
Pregnancy-induced gestational diabetes
Our digestive system breaks down food we consume into sugar, referred to as glucose. As glucose enters our bloodstream, our body mechanism uses it as fuel. A hormone called insulin enables muscles and other body cells to absorb glucose from blood. But in some cases, our body fails to produce enough insulin and glucose remains in the blood.
When a woman is pregnant, her body naturally resists insulin so as to provide more glucose to the baby as glucose provides nourishment to the baby. Pancreas also secretes excess glucose in case additional insulin is required by the body. But when pancreas cannot fulfill the increased demand for insulin during pregnancy, blood sugar levels rise as body cells are not utilizing the glucose. This is how gestational diabetes affects pregnant women.
However, after delivery, gestational diabetes gets cured. Dr Anuradha Kapur says that as diabetes is a common disease in Asian countries, Asian women are more prone to gestational diabetes. She adds, “The risk factors of gestational diabetes include body mass, advanced maternal age, PCOS and in some cases, hereditary issues.”
Pregnancy-induced liver disease
This rare condition, when affects pregnant women, can even be fatal. It usually appears in the third trimester, though it may also occur in the second half of pregnancy. Mostly, this occurs during 35th or 36th week of pregnancy.
A pregnant woman may show symptoms like nausea, vomiting, lack of desire to eat, pain in stomach and excessive thirst. These conditions might seem normal during pregnancy but it’s always good to be on a regular check-up.
Pregnancy induced liver disease can also cause Jaundice and Hepatitis E. According to Anuradha Kapur, a normal person can easily cope up with hepatitis E but in a pregnant woman, this condition can be fatal.
Some other liver diseases that occur during pregnancy are hyperemesis gravidarum, acute fatty liver of pregnancy, intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy, and hemolysis and elevated liver enzymes and low platelets (HELLP) syndrome.
Women may experience severe itching during later part of pregnancy. One of the most common causes of this condition is cholestasis, a common liver disease that only happens in pregnancy. In this condition, the normal flow of bile in the gall bladder is affected by the high amounts of pregnancy hormones.
Dr Kapur suggests that women should plan their pregnancies in late twenties or in early thirties. This is due to the reason that as the maternal age advances, medical conditions and disorders increases, increasing the chances of labour dystocia.