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Common medical conditions encountered during pregnancy

Throughout pregnancy, go to all your prenatal care checkups, if you’re feeling fine. Getting regular prenatal care can help you and your health care provider spot complications early—and maybe even prevent them.

Pregnancy induced conditions, like gestational diabetes and preeclampsia, can cause serious problems for you and your baby. If you have conditions like these, work with your doctor to get treatment to help keep them under control. If you had certain health conditions before pregnancy, like preexisting diabetes, find out what you can do to help you stay healthy during pregnancy. And learn how to protect yourself from common infections, like the flu and food poisoning, that can cause problems during pregnancy.

 

We will highlight 3 common conditions which may occur during your pregnancy.

 

Hyperemesis Gravidarum

Hyperemesis gravidarum is the medical term for severe nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. The symptoms can be severely uncomfortable. You might vomit more than four times a day, become dehydrated, feel constantly dizzy and lightheaded and lose weight. Fortunately there are treatments available, including medicines to prevent nausea.

Hyperemesis gravidarum can lead to dehydration and nutrient loss, affecting both the health of a pregnant woman and the baby she’s carrying. The nausea can be debilitating, interfering  with daily activities and quality of life. It usually subsides at between 14 and 20 weeks of pregnancy. The condition might be caused by rapidly rising serum levels of hormones such as HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) and estrogen.

Although there are no known ways to completely prevent hyperemesis gravidarum, the following measures might help keep morning sickness from becoming serious:

  • Eating small, frequent meals.
  • Eating bland foods.
  • Waiting until nausea has improved before taking iron supplements.
  • Using a pressure-point wrist band, vitamin B6 and/or ginger.

 

If the condition does not improve, medical treatment will be indicated. Oral antiemetics are generally safe to use in pregnancy and works in most cases of hyperemesis.

 

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes is diabetes, or high blood sugar levels, that develops during pregnancy. In Singapore, it is common and affects 1 in 5 pregnancies.  All pregnant women are screened for GDM during pregnancy between 24 to 28 weeks gestation via an oral glucose challenge test (OGTT) test.

There are some risks associated with having gestational diabetes. Most women with gestational diabetes have healthy pregnancies and healthy babies, especially if their condition is diagnosed and managed well during pregnancy. However, gestational diabetes can cause problems such as:

  • Large baby which have lead to a difficult labour and require caesarean section
  • Preterm labour and birth before 37 weeks
  • Preeclampsia which is a condition that causes high blood pressure during pregnancy and can lead to pregnancy complications if not treated
  • Neonatal jaundice
  • Stillbirth– though this is rare

 

Having GDM also places a woman at risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the future. Treatment for gestational diabetes focuses on keeping blood glucose levels in the normal range. Treatment may include:

  • Special diet.
  • Daily blood glucose monitoring.
  • Insulin injections.

 

 

Preeclampsia

Preeclampsia is a serious disorder that can affect all organs in a woman’s body. It usually develops after 20 weeks of pregnancy, often in the third trimester. Pre-eclampsia is characterised by high blood pressure and signs of damage to other organs and can range from mild to severe. Pre-eclampsia affects up to 6% of pregnancies especially in 1st pregnancies.

As pre-eclampsia progresses, it may cause headaches, visual problems, heartburn, swelling of the hands and feet(edema). The baby’s growth may also be affected by preeclampsia.

 

If untreated, complications such as fits/convulsions, HELLP syndrome (a combined liver and blood clotting disorder), stroke, preterm birth may occur. Other rare complications include pulmonary edema, kidney failure, liver failure or blood clotting disorders.

Preeclampsia is cured by delivering the baby.  Before you are ready to deliver your baby, you will be closely monitored and given medication to control the blood pressure. There will also be regular blood tests to monitor for any organ injury and regular ultrasound scans to monitor the growth of your baby. In most cases of preeclampsia, we aim to deliver at 37 to 38 weeks of pregnancy. However there maybe some instances where preterm birth is required if the preeclampsia is severe and complications mentioned above develop.

 

Take control of your pregnancy, put the health of you and your baby first. Contact Timothy Lim Clinic to receive preconception counselling and to prevent pregnancy-related complications from occurring. We are fully dedicated to providing you quality care!

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