You should also discuss possible complications in advance with your healthcare practitioner. Your body is undergoing major changes as it grows a baby. Those changes can have an impact on other systems in your body.
* Gestational diabetes - For example, gestational diabetes is a condition that can develop during pregnancy; it usually disappears once the baby is born. This condition requires careful monitoring throughout the pregnancy and can put a woman at higher risk of developing diabetes later in life. The American Diabetes Association says about four percent of pregnant women develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy, and women who were overweight before becoming pregnant are at a higher risk. Your healthcare provider should routinely screen you for this at 28 weeks gestation.
* Incontinence - Another concern for many women is incontinence, which is the accidental loss of urine or the inability to hold your urine. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) say pregnancy and childbirth, along with the structure of the female urinary tract , help account for the fact that women suffer from incontinence twice as often as men. Kegel's or pelvic muscle tightening exercises can help to decrease urinary leakage.
* Constipation - One of the most common complaints of pregnant women is constipation. Your doctor may recommend adding fiber to your diet and increasing your fluid intake.
* Hemorrhoids - Many women also suffer from hemorrhoids during pregnancy, the result of the extra weight and other factors. After birth, the hemorrhoids often go away. Information Center, postpartum thyroiditis is something else women should be aware of. This is a swelling of the thyroid that occurs in 5-7 percent of women who give birth, and can cause temporarily high levels of thyroid hormone.
* Back pain - Many pregnant women develop back pain, because of the extra weight and changes that pregnancy can cause in their posture and center of gravity. You can help to minimize problems if you avoid standing for extended periods of time, pay attention to posture and use proper lifting techniques.
* LungsDeep vein thrombosis - During pregnancy, women have a fivefold increased risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) according to ACOG. DVT is the development of blood clots in veins, usually in the leg. With that comes an increased risk of a blood clot breaking loose and traveling to another part of the body, such as the heart, brain or lungs. When it lodges in the lung, it is called a pulmonary embolism . The American Heart Association says pulmonary embolism is the most frequent cause of death associated with childbirth.
* Preeclampsia - One in twenty women will develop a condition during their first pregnancy called preeclampsia. It results in high blood pressure and protein in the urine. It is potentially fatal to the woman and the fetus. NIH calls it the leading cause of maternal death. This is why frequent prenatal visits are essential to help prevent these serious complications.
* Depression - Women should also be aware of mental changes that can occur, both during pregnancy and after delivery. The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) says symptoms of what is commonly called the "baby blues" can start three to four days after delivery, and include mood swings, crying spells and problems concentrating. The symptoms usually go away within ten days of delivery. But if they last or become increasingly intense, it's called post-partum depression and medical help may be needed. Do not be ashamed to discuss your feelings with your healthcare provider.
* Melasma or chloasma - Another complication is melasma, which is also called chloasma, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). It is a benign skin condition that is fairly common. When it occurs, the skin takes on a darker appearance compared to the surrounding skin. It is most often found on the face and other portions of the body exposed to the sun. AAD says that hormonal changes brought about by pregnancy, hormonal treatments during menopause or any other type of hormonal drugs are common causes. Up to 70 percent of pregnant women will experience melasma, which is sometimes referred to as the "mask of pregnancy." AAD adds, most cases will clear up after pregnancy or when hormones are brought back into balance. Sun exposure is also a risk factor and women who avoid the sun during pregnancy or while they are taking hormone drugs are less likely to experience melasma. AAD also recommends sunscreen to help in this area. Treatments can include various topical applications. There are, however, many concerns about these medications and pregnancy. You should discuss the issue with your healthcare provider before any kind of treatment if you are pregnant or even of childbearing age.
* Thrombophilias - Thrombophilias are a group of conditions and disorders that cause the blood to clot too easily. If a woman has an acquired or congenital thrombophilia, she may have an increased risk of problems during pregnancy. They can include poor fetal growth, separation of the placenta from the uterine wall and stillbirth.
* Vaginal yeast infections - Vaginal yeast infections are common during pregnancy and can cause itching or a burning sensation in the vagina. However, the signs of a yeast infection are similar to those of some sexually transmitted diseases. So, it's important to contact your doctor if you suspect you have a yeast infection.
* Rh disease - Rh disease occurs when the mother's blood type is Rh-negative and the baby's blood is Rh-positive. It is usually not a problem with first pregnancies but can cause serious complications for the baby in subsequent pregnancies.
There are many other issues that can develop during a pregnancy. A woman may have a weakened cervix that can open before a pregnancy reaches full term. There may be other issues such as too much amniotic fluid or problems with the placenta, which is the organ that nourishes the developing fetus and removes its waste products. One of the big concerns with many of these complications is that they can lead to early delivery. Premature birth can be very dangerous, so it is essential to talk with your doctor or healthcare provider about any concerns you may have.