4 Unexpected Pregnancy Complications

4 Unexpected Pregnancy Complications

The ongoing fallout from the COVID pandemic is expected to continue into 2021, and many states are being hit hard. The most obvious consequences of the pandemic are everywhere around us--schools and businesses are still closed down, large gatherings are still banned, holidays are being cut short, and many of us are stuck inside.

The elderly, the obese, and those with diabetes and compromised immune systems are left to juggle their health problems alongside the grave risks posed by COVID-19. Pregnant women are another vulnerable population who have seen their unique health challenges complicated by the pandemic. 

All of the complications discussed in this article occur in the context of chronic preexisting health conditions present during pregnancy. If you have a chronic preexisting health condition such as obesity, high blood pressure or respiratory issues, reach out to an obstetrician specializing in high-risk pregnancies. 

Expectant mothers should also be aware of the risks associated with automated external defibrillators (AED’s) on pregnant patients, which are touched on later in this article during the section on gestational cardiac arrest.  

Prenatal Health And COVID-19

For expectant mothers, good prenatal care and a clear understanding of the potential risks that come with pregnancy are essential even under ideal circumstances. They’re even more critical against the backdrop of a global pandemic that is killing thousands daily. 

As COVID continues to impact communities locally, physicians at Medstar Southern Maryland Hospital Center say that it’s essential for pregnant women to monitor their health and look out for potential pregnancy complications.   

The Most Common Pregnancy Complications

Obstetricians say that while most pregnancies come to term without any serious issues, the following complications are somewhat common. 

Expectant mothers are encouraged to be aware of their health and contact a medical professional right away if they experience any following symptoms or disorders. 

High Blood Pressure

According to the CDC, there are two primary types of high blood pressure during pregnancy. 

Chronic hypertension refers to a state of high blood pressure before pregnancy or before the twentieth week of pregnancy, and gestational hypertension, which refers to the onset of high blood pressure only during pregnancy. 

Although the causes of high blood pressure during pregnancy vary, managing the problem is simple-get regular prenatal care and use a home blood pressure monitor daily, making sure to test your blood pressure two to three times with each use.

Also, women who experience gestational hypertension are at increased risk for high blood pressure later in life.  

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes refers to the onset and diagnosis of diabetes during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes doesn’t differ significantly from regular Type-I or Type-II diabetes. It still affects the ability of the cells to process glucose. 
Beyond increased thirst or frequent urination, gestational diabetes doesn’t have very many noticeable symptoms. Expectant mothers, especially those who are already overweight at conception, should maintain communication with their obstetrician and get frequent check-ups. 

Women who are diagnosed with gestational diabetes will need to check in with their obstetrician more often. Babies born to mothers with gestational diabetes run the risk of high birth weight, premature delivery, acute respiratory symptoms, and stillbirth.    

Maternal Cardiac Arrest

Although the exact causes of maternal cardiac arrest are still unclear, it is a potentially fatal complication. Pregnant women who are obese at the time of conception, those who are older, and those who already have risk factors for heart disease are at increased risk for maternal cardiac arrest. 

Additionally, women who become pregnant in conjunction with chronic health issues such as renal disorders, respiratory issues, and seizures are also at higher risk. 

Women who become pregnant while suffering from other chronic or acute preexisting health issues should reach out to obstetricians and hospitals with experience in high-risk pregnancies, such as Medstar Southern Maryland Hospital Center, which we linked to earlier in this article. 

Women at higher risk for maternal cardiac arrest should also be aware of the possible implications surrounding the use of automated external defibrillators, or AED on pregnant patients

Preeclampsia

Preeclampsia is a severe and potentially fatal gestational complication that frequently occurs in expectant mothers who suffer from high blood pressure. Besides high blood pressure, symptoms of preeclampsia include: 
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Frequent moderate-to-severe headaches.
  • Blurry or lost vision.
  • Vomiting or nausea.
  • Inability to urinate.
  • Reduced liver function.
  • Sudden swelling of the face or hands.

While some preeclampsia occurrences can be quite severe, often, preeclampsia can be challenging to identify because so many of the symptoms are common conditions that occur during pregnancy. 

If you’re pregnant and have high blood pressure, check your blood pressure often, and stay in frequent contact with your obstetrician. If you’re diagnosed with preeclampsia, or you’re deemed to be at high risk for preeclampsia, your obstetrician may put you on long-term bed rest. In extreme preeclampsia cases, labor may be induced if it is deemed safe for the mother and fetus. 

Prenatal Care Is More Important Than Ever

If you’re an expectant mother trying to stay healthy in these challenging times, all of the complications we’ve discussed here can be avoided with good prenatal care and frequent check-ups with your obstetrician. 

Suppose you’re pregnant and suffering from a chronic health condition such as obesity or high blood pressure. In that case, it is essential that you act sooner rather than later to live a healthy lifestyle and have a healthy pregnancy. 

Medical professionals in the Baltimore metro area are encouraging all expectant mothers to observe social distancing recommendations strictly and be aware of the risks associated with automated external defibrillators (aed’s) during pregnancy. 


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