No two pregnancies are the same. Some expecting mothers sail through their pregnancy with ease while others face health challenges. If you’re pregnant or planning to conceive, it’s essential to understand the possible discomforts and health issues that may arise.
Common discomforts of pregnancy include morning sickness, nausea, backache, bladder and bowel problems, fatigue, headaches, leg cramps, vaginal discharge and thrush, varicose veins, swelling, changes to skin and hair, and indigestion. According to the Cleveland Clinic, about 70% of pregnant women experience morning sickness, which usually starts at six weeks and lasts until the second trimester.
It’s normal to worry about whether your discomforts are harmful to your baby or indicative of an unhealthy pregnancy. In most cases, this is not the case, but if you’re experiencing these symptoms, you should talk to your healthcare provider immediately.
In addition to these common discomforts, some health issues can make pregnancy difficult, challenging, or high-risk. These complications can impact the mother’s health, the fetus’s health, or both. Even women who were healthy before pregnancy can experience complications.
The good news is that early and regular prenatal care can help reduce the risk of problems by enabling healthcare providers to diagnose, treat, or manage conditions before they become serious. If you’re pregnant or planning to conceive, it’s essential to stay informed, take care of yourself, and seek medical attention as needed to ensure a healthy pregnancy for you and your baby.
In this article, you can read about some complications of pregnancy and tips for recovery after, along with frequently asked questions.
Table of Contents Hide
- What is considered a difficult pregnancy?
- What causes a difficult pregnancy?
- What are danger signs during labor?
- What can I do to promote a healthy pregnancy?
- Tips for recovering from a difficult pregnancy
What is considered a difficult pregnancy?
A difficult pregnancy refers to a situation where the health of the mother or baby is at an increased risk when compared to a normal pregnancy.
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, approximately 8 percent of all pregnancies involve complications that may harm the mother or the baby if left untreated. These complications can arise from pre-existing health problems or occur unexpectedly during the pregnancy.
The types of health conditions that make pregnancy hard can vary widely from woman to woman. However, one thing is certain: regular prenatal care is critical in reducing the risk of serious health problems for both the mother and baby. Experts agree that being healthy before pregnancy is the best thing you can do for your baby.
What causes a difficult pregnancy?
A difficult or challenging pregnancy can be caused by pre-existing medical conditions as well as medical conditions that develop during pregnancy.
Below you will read some specific factors that might contribute to a high-risk pregnancy, according to experts at Mayo Clinic.
Advanced maternal age: Pregnancy risks might be higher for mothers older than 35 years of age.
Lifestyle choices: Smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, and using illegal drugs can put a pregnancy at risk.
Maternal health problems: High blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, epilepsy, thyroid disease, heart or blood disorders, poorly controlled asthma, and infections can increase pregnancy risks.
Pregnancy complications: Various complications that develop during pregnancy can pose risks. An unusual placenta position, fetal growth less than the 10th percentile for gestational age (fetal growth restriction), and rhesus (Rh) sensitization — a potentially serious condition that can occur when your blood group is Rh negative and your baby’s blood group is Rh positive are among those risks.
Multiple pregnancies: Pregnancy risks are higher for women carrying more than one fetus.
Pregnancy history: A history of pregnancy-related hypertension disorders, such as preeclampsia, increases the risk of having this diagnosis during the next pregnancy. If you gave birth prematurely in your last pregnancy or you’ve had multiple premature births, you’re at an increased risk of early delivery in your next pregnancy. You should talk to your healthcare provider about your complete obstetric history.
What are danger signs during labor?
All pregnant women, their partners, and their families should know the signs of complications and emergencies. That way you can seek medical care immediately if you experience any signs or symptoms listed below.
- Vaginal bleeding
- Severe headaches with blurred vision
- Fever and being too weak to get out of bed
- Severe abdominal pain
- Fast or difficult breathing
- Fever 100.4°F or higher
- Abdominal pain
- Feeling ill
- Chest pain or fast-beating heart
- Swelling of fingers, face, and legs
This list is not meant to cover every symptom you might have. If you feel like something is not right, consult your doctor immediately.
What can I do to promote a healthy pregnancy?
Whether you are aware of a potentially difficult pregnancy or want to take preventive measures, it is crucial to prioritize self-care.
Schedule a preconception appointment
If you are thinking about becoming pregnant, you should consult your doctor. Your doctor might counsel you to take a daily prenatal vitamin with folic acid.
If you have a medical condition, your treatment might be adjusted in preparation for pregnancy.
Seek regular prenatal care
Prenatal care should begin as soon as a woman knows or thinks she is pregnant. Early and regular prenatal visits are important for the health of both the mother and the fetus.
Throughout your pregnancy, your healthcare provider will check your weight and blood pressure while also checking the growth and development of your baby. During your pregnancy, you’ll also have prenatal tests, including blood, urine, and cervical tests and ultrasound checks.
When pregnant, it’s important to prioritize healthy eating to ensure that the calories you consume come from nutritious sources that contribute to your baby’s growth and development.
Try to maintain a well-balanced diet that incorporates dietary guidelines, such as:
- lean meats
- whole-grain bread
- low-fat dairy products
You don’t need to eat for two when you’re pregnant. In fact, you don’t need any extra calories for the first six months of pregnancy.
In the last three months, you’ll only need an extra 200 calories a day.
When pregnant, staying well hydrated is important since your body needs more water to produce extra blood and amniotic fluid. Drinking water can also help prevent constipation and tiredness.
Exercise has many benefits for your overall health.
- Helps you to cope with changes to your posture and strains on your joints during pregnancy
- Helps you to stay a healthy weight
- Encourages better sleep
- Improves circulation
- Helps reduce stress
- Helps to protect you against pregnancy complications, such as high blood pressure and gestational diabetes
- Makes it easier for you to get back into shape after your baby is born
- Boosts your mood if you’re feeling low
Good exercises for pregnancy include:
- brisk walking
- aquanatal classes
Avoid risky substances
If you smoke, quit.
Smoking increases your risk of:
- Ectopic pregnancy, where the fertilized egg implants outside the womb, usually in one of the fallopian tubes
- Placental abruption, where the placenta comes away from the womb wall before your baby is born
Alcohol and illegal drugs are off-limits, too.
Any alcohol you drink reaches your baby via your bloodstream and the placenta.
Too much caffeine is also risky since it may increase your risk of miscarriage. Caffeine is present in coffee, tea, chocolate, cola, and energy drinks.
Talk to your doctor about any medications or supplements you’re taking.
Tips for recovering from a difficult pregnancy
Postpartum is a healing period, whether your pregnancy was easy or difficult, and experiencing some discomfort during this time can be normal. You may encounter new signs and concerns, and your body and hormone levels may fluctuate.
It’s important to be aware of what to expect during your postpartum recovery, including common symptoms, and consult with your doctor to learn more about what’s normal for your body.
- Breast pain: You may have painful engorgement and sensitive nipples for several days when your milk comes in.
- Constipation: Acute hemorrhoids, healed episiotomies, and tight muscles can make the first bowel movement after birth a painful experience.
- Episiotomy: Your ability to sit or walk may be temporarily impaired by the discomfort caused by the stitches in your perineum if it was cut by your doctor or ripped during birth. During the recovery period, it may also hurt to cough or sneeze.
- Defecation or urinary incontinence: The straining of your muscles at the time of delivery might make it challenging to regulate your bowel movements or cause you to leak urine when you laugh, cough, or strain.
- Vaginal discharge (lochia): The vaginal discharge will be heavier than your period and may contain clots initially. However, it will lighten to white or yellow and stop within a few weeks.
- Hormonal fluctuations: After birth, your estrogen and progesterone levels drop dramatically. This may result in sudden mood swings, baby blues, hair loss, or postpartum depression.
- Hot and cold flashes: Adjusting to a change in hormone and blood flow levels might throw off your internal thermostat.
What can you do to recover
For the first 6 weeks, paying attention to your body is essential. You may be preoccupied with your new baby, but it is necessary to tune into the changes your body is experiencing.
Take care of yourself
Self-care is a necessity when recovering from a difficult pregnancy. Being a present parent for your baby is also essential, which requires you to be in the best shape.
- Ask for help from your partner, friends, or family members.
- Eat healthy meals.
- Hydrate regularly.
- Spare time for sleep. Sleep is critical for your physical and mental health.
- Even if you can’t sleep, close your eyes and relax your body.
- Limit processed foods.
If you are allowed by your doctor, go for a walk outside with or without the baby. Walking can help trigger a calming response in your nervous system.
- aids digestion
- relieves constipation
- increases circulation
- promotes healing
Try Kegel exercises
Consult your doctor before starting. If you are allowed by your doctor, you may benefit from the advantages of Kegel exercises.
Regular Kegel exercises
- strengthen your pelvic muscles
- improve urinary continence
- toughen your sphincter muscles
Mindfulness is a powerful tool. Studies suggest that mindfulness practices may help you
- manage stress
- cope better with your new reality
- reduce anxiety and depression
With the help of mindfulness practices, you may slow down your emotional responses and restore balance to your nervous system.
Tell your story
Telling your story has great healing power.
So, you can try
- writing in your diary
- talking to your trusted ones who will listen to you with compassion
- working with a professional who is an expert in recovery after a challenging pregnancy
- getting in touch with other moms
References: nichd.nih.gov, ucsfhealth.org, pregnancybirthbaby.org.au, mayoclinic.org, hopkinsmedicine.org, cdc.gov, kidshealth.org, health.ucsd.edu