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Ten deadly pregnancy complications

By Nailantei Norari
Thursday, February 11th, 2021
Pregnancy. Photo/Courtesy
In summary

Across the world, over 295,000 women died in 2017 due to birth related conditions. Majority of the deaths are from health issues that could have been prevented had the mothers received appropriate medical care during their pregnancies and childbirth. Nailantei Norari highlights the big culprits of maternal and child mortality. 

Preeclampsia

Preeclampsia, also called toxemia, occurs after the first 20 weeks of a pregnancy and causes high blood pressure and possible problems with your kidneys.

The recommended treatment for preeclampsia is delivery of the baby to prevent the disease from progressing.

The doctor may induce labour if the pregnancy is between 37 to 40 weeks or medicate and hospitalize the pregnant woman for close monitoring if it is too early for delivery.

Hyperemesis Gravidarum

While morning sickness abets after a few weeks, hyperemesis gravidarum, a severe manifestation of morning sickness does not stop till delivery. It involves persistent nausea and vomiting.

This vomiting is so severe that it affects the quality of life of the pregnant woman and can affect her kidneys and the metabolic and electrolyte balance in her body.

The pregnant woman might need to be put on medication or at times feed intravenously till delivery date.

Preterm labour

Preterm labor occurs when the pregnant woman goes into labor before week 37 of the pregnancy.

This is before the baby’s organs, such as the lungs and the brain, have finished developing.

Certain medications can be taken to stop the labour. Doctors usually recommend bed rest to keep the baby from being born too early.

Weak cervix

At times, the cervix is too weak to support the weight of the baby and may therefore start opening before the due date.

To prevent a preterm birth, a McDonald stitch is done in order to hold the cervix in place and removed right before birth.

It is usually done between 12 and 24 weeks of pregnancy, as there is a higher risk of rupturing the amniotic sac if the stitch is done later than 24 weeks.

Gestational diabetes

Gestational diabetes occurs when the pregnant body cannot process sugars effectively leading to higher-than-normal levels of sugar in the bloodstream.

One can either modify their meal plans to help control blood sugar levels or take insulin to keep their blood sugar levels in control. Gestational diabetes usually resolves after pregnancy.

6. High blood pressure

Some women suffer from high blood pressure despite not having the condition pre-pregnancy.

This occurs when the arteries that carry blood from the heart to the organs and the placenta are narrowed.

High blood pressure is associated with a higher risk of many other complications, like preeclampsia and increases the occurrence of preterm delivery and low birth weight.

High blood pressure can be controlled by medication during pregnancy, and often stops soon after delivery.

7. Miscarriage

A miscarriage is the loss of pregnancy during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. Sometimes, this happens before a woman is even aware of the pregnancy.

The most common cause of miscarriage is a genetic abnormality in the embryo.

But several other factors can also be the culprit, including thyroid disorders, diabetes, immunological disorders and drug abuse in the case of the pregnant woman.

In most cases however, miscarriages are not preventable as the causes are hard to pinpoint. 

8. Stillbirth

A stillbirth is the death of a baby in the womb after week 20 of the mother’s pregnancy.

The reasons go unexplained for a third of cases. The other two thirds may be caused by problems with the placenta or umbilical cord, high blood pressure, infections, birth defects, or poor lifestyle choices.

There is no sure way to prevent stillbirths, although regular antenatal checkups are recommended.

9. Placental abruption

Placental abruption occurs when the placenta detaches from the inner wall of the womb before delivery thereby depriving the baby of oxygen and nutrients.

Its symptoms include vaginal bleeding, stomach pain and back pain in the last 12 weeks of pregnancy.

Depending on the degree of placental separation and how close the baby is to full-term, treatment may include bed rest or a Caesarean.

10. Uterine rupture

This is among the most dangerous obstetric condition for both mother and child.

Though a rare occurrence, uterine rupture happens when the wall or the lining of a mother’s uterus tears open.

In serious cases the rupture leaves an open wall on the uterus thus allowing the baby or the amniotic fluid to come out.

Uterine rupture is so serious that once it happens the baby is under an immediate threat of oxygen deprivation, brain damage or death. 

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