LivingProblems in pregnancy: most frequent complications during pregnancy

Problems in pregnancy: most frequent complications during pregnancy

Despite the fact that most pregnancies proceed normally , certain complications may occur throughout the pregnancy that lead to health problems for the mother and/or the baby.

These complications may arise as a result of the aggravation of a specific health condition that the woman had before she became pregnant (alterations in metabolism, immune diseases, kidney or heart diseases…). Similarly, there are other factors such as obesity, maternal age or harmful habits (smoking, drugs, medication…) that can increase the risk of complications during pregnancy . But problems can also appear throughout the pregnancy derived from other causes such as infections or fetal diseases/malformations.

Depending on the type of complication and the time of pregnancy in which it occurs, it could affect the mother’s health, that of the baby (problems in its development and growth, premature birth, low birth weight…) or that of the mother. Both.

A pregnancy that presents some complication will be closely followed by the specialist, in order to guarantee the health and well-being of the mother and the baby.

Below we detail some of the most frequent pregnancy complications , classified in alphabetical order.

Thyroid disorders

What does it consist of?

Thyroid disorders occur due to a malfunction of the thyroid gland, responsible for producing thyroid hormones that control the metabolism of the entire body , as well as the function of many organs. In addition, this maternal hormone is also involved in the development of the baby’s brain and nervous system.

There are two types of thyroid abnormalities during pregnancy :

  • Hypothyroidism , or when the thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones.
  • Hyperthyroidism or excess thyroid hormone.
Thyroid problems are the second leading cause of endocrinological complications during pregnancy, behind diabetes.

How is it treated?

If the pregnant woman has mild hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism , she probably does not need treatment and close monitoring is sufficient. But if the disorder is more severe, the doctor may prescribe medications intended to make the thyroid produce less or more thyroid hormone, so that it reaches the baby’s bloodstream in the proper dose.

Likewise, it is necessary to ensure that the pregnant woman eats a balanced diet and receives enough iodine, an essential mineral for the thyroid to produce thyroid hormone.

More information

  • To learn more about thyroid disorders in pregnancy, see here.

iron deficiency anemia

What does it consist of?

Iron deficiency anemia is a common disorder during pregnancy. It occurs due to the increased volume of blood plasma and the decreased ability of red blood cells to transport oxygen or iron, necessary for the production of hemoglobin, which is responsible for carrying oxygen to other cells.

Pregnant women with anemia are more likely to develop preeclampsia, some type of infection or postpartum hemorrhage, while babies are more likely to be born prematurely, have less than normal growth and be born with low weight.

How is it treated?

When the hemoglobin concentration falls below 11 g/dl, many doctors consider that an iron supplement should be given to complement the pregnant woman’s diet.

However, sometimes it is enough to eat a varied diet that includes foods rich in iron to ensure that the body has the necessary reserves to provide enough oxygen for the baby.

More information

  • To learn more about iron deficiency anemia in pregnancy, see here.

Umbilical cord complications

What does it consist of?

The umbilical cord is an essential organ for the survival of the fetus . It connects the baby with the placenta and is responsible for providing oxygen and the necessary nutrients so that it can develop properly.

Although they are rare, some complications of the umbilical cord in pregnancy can occur:

  • Cord prolapse : The umbilical cord protrudes through the cervix before the baby’s head. It poses a serious risk, because being compressed could interrupt the flow of oxygen that the baby receives.
  • Cord of a single artery : it is most often associated with malformations in the fetus, as well as premature delivery or low birth weight.
  • Alterations in the length of the cord : a very short umbilical cord, less than 30 centimeters, can make it difficult for the baby to descend through the birth canal, while a cord of more than 60 cm could lead to the appearance of knots or that it coils in any of the baby’s parts.
  • Cord wraps – Approximately 20 to 40 percent of babies are born with a cord wrap, without this posing any risk to their health.

More information

  • To learn more about complications of the umbilical cord in pregnancy, see here.

Amniotic fluid complications

What does it consist of?

Amniotic fluid is a vital element for the development of the baby in the womb. Among other things, it protects you from injury and heat loss, so it is essential that you maintain the proper amount .

The amount of fluid increases as the pregnancy progresses, reaching its maximum volume of between 800 milliliters and 1 liter around 32-36 weeks of gestation . From that moment on, the liquid begins to decrease slightly until the moment of birth.

Complications with the amniotic fluid can occur during pregnancy, such as:

  • Amniotic fluid leaks – An infection, complications from amniocentesis, a ruptured pouch, or other pregnancy complications can cause amniotic fluid leaks during pregnancy, the severity of which will vary depending on how much is lost.
  • Polyhydramnios or excess amniotic fluid . Occasionally, this complication is associated with maternal diabetes, multiple pregnancy, genetic abnormalities, fetal malformations or infections, Rh incompatibility, and fetal transfusion syndrome.
  • Oligohydramnios or low amount of amniotic fluid. It can be caused by diabetes or preeclampsia in the mother, premature rupture of the sac, problems with the functioning of the placenta, multiple pregnancy or fetal anomalies.

There is another complication that can occur at the time of delivery, and although it is very rare, it poses a serious risk. This is the embolism of the amniotic fluid that occurs when the fetal membranes and uterine vessels rupture, causing the amniotic fluid to enter the circulatory system and travel to the mother’s lungs.

How is it treated?

Any alteration in the amount of amniotic fluid should be controlled periodically by ultrasound and try to find the cause that could be causing the problem.

More information

  • To learn more about amniotic fluid complications, see here and here.

placental complications

What does it consist of?

The placenta is a vitally important organ in pregnancy. It is formed from the moment of implantation of the embryo in the uterus and is responsible for transmitting the oxygen and nutrients necessary for its growth to the baby, as well as secreting essential hormones during pregnancy and protecting the fetus in the womb by filtering harmful substances.

Complications of the placenta may occur due to the existence of different types of anomalies or cause alterations that complicate pregnancy, such as:

  • Placenta previa : when the placenta is implanted over the internal cervical os, in the lower part of the uterus. You can read here what this complication consists of and its consequences.
  • Placental abruption: when the placenta partially or completely detaches before giving birth. It poses a serious risk to the baby, so its removal is required immediately.
  • Aged placenta: this is a condition that decreases the normal functioning of the placenta and causes insufficient uterine nutrition. It occurs when the due date is exceeded or due to other causes such as high blood pressure or preeclampsia in the mother, or other risk factors. You can read here what this complication consists of and its consequences.
  • Attached placenta : it happens when the placenta is abnormally attached to the uterus, being able to invade the uterine muscle or neighboring organs. It is one of the less frequent complications of the placenta, which occurs mainly in cases of placenta previa.

There is also another rare but dangerous complication called chorioamnionitis . It is caused by an infection in the placenta and amniotic fluid caused by bacteria that normally inhabit the vagina, Escherichia coli (E. coli) and Group B streptococcus.

More information

  • To learn more about complications of the placenta in pregnancy, see here and here.

intrauterine growth retardation

What does it consist of?

During pregnancy it may be the case that the baby grows less than normal . It is what is known as “retarded or restricted intrauterine growth” (RIC), which occurs in eight percent of pregnancies.

Often this complication is caused by problems with the placenta, although it can also be due to causes of maternal and fetal origin, such as genetic or chromosomal alterations, infections (toxoplasma, syphilis, rubella, cytomegalovirus, herpes simplex) and multiple gestations.

How is it treated?

In cases of late RIC, the only thing that can be done is to monitor it so that it does not cause any complications in the last stage of pregnancy , but in severe cases or in those in which problems are detected in the placenta, delivery must be advanced .

More information

  • To learn more about retarded or restricted intrauterine growth, see here.

Gestational diabetes

What does it consist of?

Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that appears for the first time in pregnancy, in women who have never had this disease before.

It occurs when the pancreas does not produce all the insulin it needs, and without it, glucose cannot leave the blood and be converted into energy within the cells. That is, the blood sugar level rises and hyperglycemia occurs.

Gestational diabetes is estimated to affect approximately 5-10% of pregnant women.

How is it treated?

In 85% of the cases, gestational diabetes is adequately controlled with a prescribed diet followed by a specialist, in which sugar consumption should be almost completely avoided and slow absorption carbohydrates should be consumed.

But for cases in which this measure is not enough, the doctor will determine pharmacological treatment with insulin.

More information

  • To learn more about gestational diabetes, see here.


What does it consist of?

Gingivitis is a form of periodontal disease that involves inflammation and bleeding of the gums due to infection that destroys the supporting tissues of the teeth (gums, periodontal ligaments and alveolar bone).

It is estimated that more than 50% of all pregnant women experience some form of pregnancy gingivitis. The causes are varied, the most prominent being the effect of hormones and increased blood flow.

How is it treated?

To prevent gingivitis it is important to have a proper cleaning to stop the accumulation of plaque and tartar, avoid foods that contain refined sugar, maintain a balanced diet with adequate calcium and visit the dentist regularly.

More information

  • To learn more about gingivitis in pregnancy, see here.

Intrauterine hematoma

What does it consist of?

One in three pregnant women experience blood loss at some point during pregnancy, especially in the first trimester. One of the most common causes of bleeding are intrauterine hematomas , whose prognosis will vary depending on their location and size.

How is it treated?

In general, intrauterine hematomas do not usually cause pregnancy loss. In most cases, resting the bruises are reabsorbed and disappear spontaneously, although if the bruise is very large it will take longer to disappear.

A small or moderate hematoma without the company of other symptoms has a good prognosis and does not usually constitute a threat of abortion. However, if there is abundant bleeding accompanied by abdominal pain, the doctor will assess the threat of abortion and will indicate the most appropriate treatment.

More information

  • To learn more about uterine hematomas in pregnancy, see here.

hyperemesis gravidarum

What does it consist of?

Although nausea and vomiting are one of the most common complaints during the first months of pregnancy, when they are persistent and intense, they lead to weight loss (more than 5% of body volume) and even dehydration, this is a case of hyperemesis gravidarum

There is no specific cause that produces excessive vomiting, and although it is usually attributed to the high levels of the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) that the body of the pregnant woman experiences in the first weeks, two genes associated with this have also been identified. disease called GDF15 and IGFBP.

How is it treated?

Although there are certain natural measures that can help minimize symptoms (eat frequently and in small quantities, choose foods that protect against nausea, avoid situations that cause nausea, such as stuffy environments, strong odors, excess heat…), In most cases, medication is needed to reduce nausea and vomiting.

More information

  • To know more about hyperemesis gravidarum, consult here.

Gestational arterial hypertension

What does it consist of?

Blood pressure is the pressure exerted by the blood against the wall of the arteries , something essential for the blood to circulate through the blood vessels, providing oxygen and nutrients to all the organs of the body so that they can function.

When there is a continuous increase in blood pressure figures in the arteries, we are facing a case of high blood pressure, which, if manifested during pregnancy, could constitute a risk for the mother and baby.

Gestational hypertension , also known as pregnancy-induced hypertension or transient hypertension, is a type of high blood pressure that usually develops after 20 weeks of pregnancy and disappears after delivery.

If gestational hypertension develops before 30 weeks, the chances of leading to preeclampsia increases to 50%. In contrast, if it develops after 36 weeks of gestation, the hypertension is usually moderate.

How is it treated?

In general, the guidelines to follow will depend on the degree of gestational hypertension suffered by the woman, and pharmacological treatment may be necessary in the most severe cases.

In addition, it is necessary to have good gestational control to prevent the risks of suffering hypertension during pregnancy, and to follow healthy habits.

More information

  • To learn more about gestational hypertension, see here.

Gestational arterial hypotension

What does it consist of?

Hypotension or low blood pressure refers to the abnormal health condition in which blood pressure is lower than usual, which is almost always between 90/60 mmHg and 120/80 mmHg.

The most common cause of low blood pressure is hormones and increased blood volume. However, unlike hypertension, this condition is not serious, although it is very annoying for the mother.

How is it treated?

The best way to prevent low blood pressure in pregnancy is by taking care of your diet; consuming fresh fruits and vegetables, including vegetables with natural sodium in their composition such as celery, chard, spinach, asparagus, carrot, artichoke, beetroot and tomato, and ensuring a good fluid intake.

More information

  • To learn more about gestational arterial hypotension, consult here.

Urinary infection

What does it consist of?

During pregnancy, urine takes longer to travel through the urinary tract and out due to the high level of the hormone progesterone (which relaxes the muscle tone of the ureters) and the loss of muscle tone in the bladder.

This can cause the proliferation of bacteria in the urinary tract , causing infection anywhere from the kidneys (pyelonephritis) to the bladder (cystitis).

Urinary tract infection is especially frequent during pregnancy, since between 4 and 10% of pregnant women suffer from it.

How is it treated?

The usual thing to treat a urinary tract infection is oral antibiotics and rigorous medical follow-up, since this type of infection increases the possibility of having a premature birth, especially in the case of kidney infection.

More information

  • To learn more about urinary tract infection in pregnancy, see here.

Vaginal infection (vaginitis and vulvovaginitis)

What does it consist of?

Vaginitis and vulvovaginitis are pathologies caused by infections or inflammations of the vagina. These can be the result of infection by bacteria, fungi or viruses, as well as irritations due to chemicals in hygiene products or even rubbing on clothing.

During pregnancy, women are more susceptible to contracting this type of infection due to hormonal changes and decreased defenses.

How is it treated?

It is possible to prevent vaginitis during pregnancy by carrying out adequate intimate hygiene that does not alter the natural PH of the skin. It is also important to dry yourself well after bathing, not to wear tight clothing that does not perspire, and take care when cleaning up after going to the bathroom.

In addition, it is essential that the doctor make an accurate diagnosis and apply the appropriate treatment, since this type of infection has been associated with adverse outcomes in pregnancy, such as premature delivery or low birth weight.

More information

  • To learn more about vaginal infections in pregnancy, see here.


What does it consist of?

Preeclampsia is a pregnancy complication that occurs when a woman who had normal blood pressure before pregnancy suddenly develops high blood pressure and protein in the urine or other problems after 20 weeks of gestation.

It is a complication that affects 10% of pregnant women worldwide, and if it is not diagnosed and treated in time it can be very dangerous for the mother (in the short and long term) and for the baby.

The exact cause for which it occurs is unknown, although there are certain risk factors such as diabetes, multiple pregnancy, obesity, being over 35 years of age or having high blood pressure before pregnancy, among others.

How is it treated?

When detected early, preeclampsia can be controlled, but depending on the severity, treatment will vary. Thus, there are women who can continue their pregnancy at home, while in other cases hospital admission or even induction of labor is recommended if the mother is already at week 37.

More information

  • To learn more about preeclampsia in pregnancy, see here.

Circulatory problems (varicose veins, hemorrhoids and edema)

What does it consist of?

During pregnancy, for the uterus and the fetus to receive enough oxygen, more liters of blood circulate through the woman’s body. This increase in blood volume, which is around 40%, can cause the veins to dilate (varicose veins in the legs, vulva or hemorrhoids) and the tissues to accumulate fluid (edema), causing circulation problems, swelling and heaviness.

How is it treated?

It is possible to alleviate the discomfort caused by this common problem in pregnancy by leading an active life and practicing physical exercise on a routine basis, as well as taking care of your diet and hydration. Other measures such as lymphatic drainage, the use of appropriate clothing and footwear, or cold showers can also help combat symptoms.

More information

  • To learn more about circulatory problems in pregnancy, see here.

Renal problems

What does it consist of?

The kidneys are one of the organs that suffer the most during pregnancy due to the displacement of the organs and the compression they suffer due to the volume that reaches the uterus.

These changes increase the risk of urinary tract infections and colicky pain due to inflammation of the kidney, a phenomenon known as hydronephrosis . It is estimated that 90% of pregnant women suffer from kidney inflammation.

A more serious condition than hydronephrosis is the presence of kidney stones , small, compact formations of debris that obstruct the urinary tract.

How is it treated?

In case of hydronephrosis without stones , the treatment will be aimed at relieving pain with analgesics and antibiotics if there is an infection. If the presence of kidney stones is observed, the treatment will be similar, in addition to waiting for the spontaneous expulsion of the stones through the urine.

More information

  • To learn more about kidney problems in pregnancy, see here.
In general, with proper monitoring of the pregnancy, it is possible to detect these complications in time and treat them to avoid any risk.

I'm pregnant and I'm not hungry: why is that and what can I do?

Although during pregnancy it is common to feel more hungry than usual due to the energy expenditure that is taking place, some women may experience just the opposite, and see their appetite reduced considerably.

What does a perinatal psychologist do and when to go to her?

The process of searching for a new life, and bringing it into the world, is revolutionary in every way. Motherhood is revolutionary, and so is the process that is experienced when it does not arrive with such a strong desire that it does.

23 names for your baby inspired by precious and semi-precious stones

If you are expecting a baby, it will soon be time to choose his name, one of the first important decisions you will have to make as parents. Some families choose to follow family traditions, while others look elsewhere for inspiration, such as literature or history.

Gender reveal parties or baby gender reveal: games and decoration to make it a...

A few days ago I shared an article in which I talked about gender reveal or baby gender reveal parties, explaining what they are, what they consist of and what are the basic things needed to prepare one.

The duel of non-maternity: the hard moment of accepting that you will not have...

Not all pregnancy searches end with a baby in your arms. Those women who, despite having tried to be mothers, finally have not been able to be, know it well.