Managing Existing Health Issues during Pregnancy

Women's Health Update

Pregnancy can be a joyous time, full of anticipation and excitement. If a mother-to-be is managing an existing health condition, however, it can also be a time of caution and concern.

Talking with your doctor at the beginning of and throughout your pregnancy is important to ensure you are doing what’s necessary to monitor and treat your condition in the best ways possible for you and your growing baby, according to the American College of Obstetricians and GynecologistsOff Site Icon (ACOG).

The following are some conditions your doctor may want to monitor during your pregnancy and some issues you need to watch out for, according to ACOG.

Epilepsy

This seizure disorder is a concern to pregnant women because of the risk of:

  • Having children with a birth defect, which could be related to the disorder itself or the medication used to treat it.
  • Having a seizure during pregnancy, which could result in injury to mom or the baby.
  • Having seizures more often, though this is uncommon.

Pregnant patients with epilepsy should speak with their doctors about the type of medication they take and ask if the dosage needs to be changed during the pregnancy.

Diabetes

Diabetes results from your body not correctly producing or processing insulin, which moves glucose from the bloodstream into the body’s cells for use. Pregnant women with diabetes are at risk for:

  • A very large baby, making delivery more difficult
  • Babies having problems breathing, who could also have low glucose levels and jaundice
  • Babies with birth defects
  • Increased blood pressure during pregnancy
  • Increased amniotic fluid that can cause preterm labor and delivery

ACOG recommends that pregnant women with diabetes try to control the condition through exercise and diet.

The same general risks apply for pregnant women with gestational diabetes, which can develop during pregnancy. For most women, gestational diabetes goes away after pregnancy, according to ACOG.

Obesity

More than 60 percent of women in the U.S. are overweight or obese. Being obese during pregnancy significantly increases the risk for:

  • Babies born preterm, with a greater risk of health problems
  • Babies who are larger than normal, which can increase the risk of injury during birth for mother or baby
  • Birth defects, including heart defects
  • Gestational diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Pre-eclampsia
  • Problems with accurate medical test results because too much body fat can make it difficult for doctors to see if there are problems with the baby’s development during an ultrasound
  • Still births

Regular visits to your obstetrician during pregnancy will give you the chance to discuss any pre-existing health conditions with your doctor. Make sure you always go to your routine appointments, which are and vital part of caring for your unborn baby.

For more information about health issues during pregnancy, talk with your physician or find a physician.