There are many risk factors that could lead to pregnancy complications. Many of them can be managed, which means that every mother-to-be should be aware of them so that she can take the necessary measures.
CHRONIC DISEASES AND PREGNANCY
The control of chronic diseases is important not only for our quality of life, but also for the normal course of pregnancy. Many chronic diseases exacerbate during pregnancy, which necessitates more frequent check-ups, taking medications, tests and increased stress for the expectant mother.
Hypertension. Uncontrolled high blood pressure (over 140/90mmHg) increases the risk of developing preeclampsia and low birth weight of the fetus. Therefore, it is mandatory to measure your blood pressure during your regular pregnancy check-ups, as well as at home.
Diabetes. If you are planning a pregnancy, you should consult with your endocrinologist regarding a possible change in your diabetes therapy. Poorly controlled diabetes in the first weeks of pregnancy can lead to birth defects, and later fetal macrosomia (a larger than normal baby) and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) at birth.
Thyroid disease. Both increased and decreased thyroid function have been linked to heart problems and fetal neurodevelopmental disorders.
Being overweight. Excess weight is associated with an increased risk of developing gestational diabetes and giving birth to a large fetus, which could necessitate a cesarean delivery. High-grade obesity before getting pregnant is associated with fetal heart defects. It is important to optimize your weight if you are planning a pregnancy or if you are already pregnant — not to gain more than the recommended weight.
HIV/AIDS and other infections. HIV can be transmitted to the fetus during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding. These days, there are medications for both mother and baby that greatly reduce the risk of transmission. If you want to get pregnant, it is highly recommended to get tested for HIV, as well as other transmissible infections (gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, hepatitis B and C).
HARMFUL LIFESTYLE FACTORS
Alcohol. According to research, there is no safe amount of alcohol you can consume during pregnancy. Children of women who drank alcohol during pregnancy may suffer from FASDs (Fetal alcoholic spectrum disorders), which could manifest as disorders of the nervous system, behavior and intellectual development.
Smoking. Smoking, including passive smoking, during pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, and sudden infant death syndrome. If you’re trying for a baby, it’s best to quit smoking before you get pregnant.
Drug use. Like alcohol and cigarettes, drugs (including marijuana) can negatively affect fetal development and increase the risk of sudden death or stillbirth.
Sedentary lifestyle. If you have no contraindications — moderate workouts and walks are extremely beneficial for pregnant women. Exercise prevents obesity during pregnancy and may help with easier labor.
If you have concerns about your health and how it may affect a current or future pregnancy, talk to your OB/GYN. They will give you valuable advice on how to reduce the risks of possible complications.