Some women have health problems or concerns before they get pregnant. For other women, problems may come up during pregnancy. Your doctor or midwife will work with you to prevent or manage these problems to help you have a healthy pregnancy.
If you have a health problem or concern, you may have a high-risk pregnancy. This means that your doctor or midwife needs to follow you closely. It doesn't mean that something will go wrong during your pregnancy.
Pregnancy when you have health problems
- Depression during pregnancy requires treatment to reduce risks to you and your baby, before and after pregnancy.
- If you have diabetes, it's important during pregnancy to keep your blood sugar in your target range. Planning diabetes care before and during the first few weeks of pregnancy can lower your risk of problems.
- Obesity during pregnancy can increase the chance of problems. But most women who are obese have healthy babies. Your doctor will follow you closely and will plan a pregnancy weight gain that is right for you. Going on a diet during pregnancy is NOT recommended.
- If you have chronic high blood pressure during pregnancy, special care may be required. Your doctor may need to change the medicines you take to control your high blood pressure.
- Managing asthma during pregnancy is important for making sure you and your baby are getting enough oxygen. Most, but not all, asthma medicines are safe to use during pregnancy.
- Having epilepsy during pregnancy may require you to switch medicine or make other changes. But stopping medicine is not always the best solution. Having seizures during pregnancy can also harm the baby. Talk with your doctor about the best choice for you.
- Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) during pregnancy requires early detection and treatment to prevent newborn infection.
- Cancer treatment during pregnancy is delayed whenever possible to prevent harm to the baby. But chemotherapy is sometimes used, when needed.
Common infections during pregnancy
- Vaginal yeast infections are more common in pregnancy because of the increased levels of hormones. Call your doctor or midwife if you have symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection or bacterial vaginal infection (bacterial vaginosis).
- Urinary tract infection is common during pregnancy and must be treated with antibiotics to prevent a dangerous infection or preterm labor.
- Bacterial vaginosis (BV) that causes symptoms is usually treated with oral antibiotics.
- Some women carry group B strep bacteria in their vaginal area. A woman can pass this infection to her baby during vaginal birth. This infection doesn't cause symptoms, but you will be screened for it in your third trimester.
Health problems that can happen during pregnancy
- Preeclampsia can develop after 20 weeks of pregnancy. It causes high blood pressure and protein in your urine. It can be very dangerous for the mother and baby. For more information, see the topic Preeclampsia and High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy.
- Gestational diabetes can make your baby grow too large, which can cause problems during delivery. To learn more, see the topic Gestational Diabetes.
- Preterm labor is the start of labor between week 20 and week 37 of pregnancy. The earlier the preterm labor, the greater the risk of problems with the baby. To learn more, see the topic Preterm Labor.
- Placenta previa happens when the placenta attaches in the wrong place in the uterus. To learn more, see the topic Placenta Previa.
- Placenta abruptio happens when the placenta separates too soon from the uterus. To learn more, see the topic Placenta Abruptio.
- If you have Rh-negative blood and your partner is Rh-positive, you need RhoGAM (Rh immunoglobulin) treatment to prevent Rh sensitization.
- The risk of blood clots can increase during pregnancy because of changes in hormones.
Other concerns during pregnancy
- Smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of problems such as low birth weight, preterm labor, and miscarriage.
- Pregnancy over age 35 poses some risks, but most older women have healthy pregnancies.
- Medicine use (including herbal remedies) during pregnancy should always be approved by your doctor or midwife, to prevent harm to the fetus.
- Immunizations help protect you and your baby from certain health problems. The flu vaccine and the tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap) vaccine are recommended for all pregnant women. It is safe to get these vaccines during your pregnancy. You may need to get other vaccines before or soon after your pregnancy.
- Pregnancy after bariatric surgery may mean that you keep seeing the doctor who did your weight-loss surgery, along with seeing the doctor or midwife who is caring for you during pregnancy.
- Domestic violence can happen more often and/or get worse when women are pregnant. It is dangerous for both the mother and the baby. For more information and to learn how to get help, see the topic Domestic Violence.