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Health Library Pregnancy

So you're going to have a baby! Whether you are pregnant or are planning to get pregnant, you will want to give your baby a healthy start.

You need to have regular visits with your healthcare provider. These prenatal care visits are very important for your baby and yourself. Some things you might do when you are pregnant could hurt your baby, such as smoking or drinking. Some medicines can also be a problem, even ones that a doctor prescribed. You will need to drink plenty of fluids and eat a healthy diet. In early pregnancy, you may get morning sickness, or nausea. You may also be tired and need more rest.

Your body will change as your baby grows during the nine months of your pregnancy. Don't hesitate to call your health care provider if something is bothering or worrying you.

Prenatal Care

Prenatal care is more than just health care while you are pregnant. Your health care provider may discuss many issues, such as nutrition and physical activity, what to expect during the birth process and basic skills for caring for your newborn.

Your doctor or midwife will give you a schedule for your prenatal visits. You can expect to see your health care provider more often as your due date gets closer. A typical schedule includes visiting your doctor or midwife

  • About once each month during your first six months of pregnancy
  • Every two weeks during the seventh and eighth month of pregnancy
  • Weekly in the ninth month of pregnancy

If you are over 35 years old or your pregnancy is high risk because you have certain health problems like diabetes or high blood pressure, your doctor or midwife will probably want to see you more often.

Health Problems in Pregnancy

Every pregnancy has some risk of problems. The causes can be conditions you already have or conditions you develop. They also include being pregnant with more than one baby, previous problem pregnancies, or being over age 35.

If you have a chronic condition, you should talk to your health care provider about how to minimize your risk before you get pregnant. Once you are pregnant, you may need a health care team to monitor your pregnancy. Examples of common conditions that can complicate a pregnancy include

  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Kidney problems
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer

Other conditions that can make pregnancy risky can happen while you are pregnant – for example, gestational diabetes. Good prenatal care can help detect and treat them.

High Blood Pressure in Pregnancy - Preeclampsia

If you are pregnant, high blood pressure can cause problems for you and your unborn baby. You may have had high blood pressure before you got pregnant. Or you may get it once you are pregnant – a condition called gestational hypertension. Whichever you have, it can cause low birth weight or premature delivery of the baby. Serious cases may develop preeclampsia, a sudden increase in blood pressure after the 20th week of pregnancy. It can be life-threatening for both you and the unborn baby.

Treatments for high blood pressure in pregnancy may include close monitoring of the baby, lifestyle changes and certain medicines. For preeclampsia, early delivery of the baby may be necessary.

What are preeclampsia and eclampsia?

Preeclampsia is a syndrome marked by a sudden increase in the blood pressure of a pregnant woman after the 20th week of pregnancy.  It can affect the mother’s kidney, liver, and brain.  If left untreated, the condition can be fatal for the mother and/or the baby and can lead to long-term health problems.

Eclampsia is a more severe form of preeclampsia that can cause seizures and coma in the mother.

What are the symptoms of preeclampsia?

Possible signs of preeclampsia include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Too much protein in the urine
  • Swelling in a woman’s face and hands (a woman’s feet might swell too, but swollen feet are common during pregnancy and may not signal a problem)
  • Systemic problems, such as headache, blurred vision, and abdominal pain

For more information regarding preeclampsia click here

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