Pregnancy Conditions that Parents Should Know About

A medical expert talks about abnormal pregnancy complications and what they mean for expecting parents.

Whether it is your first time having a baby, or a pregnancy is expected soon, the health of your baby is an issue of concern — and it is important to look for signs throughout your pregnancy to ensure that mom and baby come out healthy. 

Here, Dr. Amitha Ganti, an OB-GYN from the University of Illinois Hospital, discusses pregnancy conditions that parents should know about, in order to spread awareness about keeping the community safe and on-guard for such abnormal conditions.

The risk of complications

Risk of pregnancy complications are fairly common, according to Ganti. 

“About 25% are very healthy, like completely normal,” she says. “(But) 75% are mid-risk to high-risk pregnancies. I see about 50 prenatal care patients a week.”

With the percentage of the risk group being so high, it is important that parents recognize the incoming conditions and symptoms to provide a healthy delivery from the beginning.

The complications begin to show at around the 12-13 week time period, Ganti says. However, the first few weeks are the most critical for the development of the baby due to the formation of the embryo from the combining sperm and the egg.

“The first 5-6 weeks (and) into the 8th-week of pregnancy is when all of the major organs are developed,” Ganti explains. So it’s important they try to optimize your health and do the things that are easy to do like taking an adequate amount of folic acid supplement that comes in prenatal vitamins. 

Folic acid helps the body make red blood cells and is found in certain foods, so this nutritious supplement helps the baby’s brain, skull and spinal cord develop properly to avoid development problems such as neural tube defects.

“All of the formation processes happen in the first couple of weeks,” Ganti says. “A lot of people don’t realize they’re pregnant until a couple months in and by then, the structures have developed, so you can’t make much of a difference then.” 

Because the spinal cord is one of the first body parts to form in the body, having this folate deficiency can lead to spinal cord irregularities. This can be an issue especially for patients who have diabetes or blood pressure issues. Without enough of this nutrient, you can expect to see issues such as anemia, fatigue, weakness and a pale complexion. 

To prevent this measure, the Office of Dietary Supplements recommends that mothers take 400 micrograms of folic acid daily in addition to the supplementation of the acid in their regular diet. 

Since the heart and organs are developing during those few weeks, any health conditions can serve as an obstacle for the development of the baby’s anatomical structure. This is generally a concern for patients because they aren’t able to recognize such irregularities in the baby until the 14th or 15th week where the defects have already been formed.

Common pregnancy conditions

The most common pregnancy conditions that Ganti sees are the issue with weight, such as obesity or high blood pressure, and their effect on the development of the baby. In addition, these conditions also create significant difficulties for the mother when they go into labor.  

“Mothers (with these conditions) are more at-risk to develop harmful conditions, such as diabetes or preeclampsia,” Ganti says. “Preeclampsia is high blood pressure related to pregnancy. This is all related to how placenta develops and from people not being able to metabolize their nutrition properly.” 

Another common issue that Ganti sees is the impact of lack of social support and mental health conditions. Depression, anxiety and loneliness make it very difficult to go through the pregnancy process. 

“The greatest advice I can give to someone is that someone feels that they have surrounded themselves with the health support that they need,” Ganti explains.

Not only is social support vital for the health of the mother but in fact, a lack of support leads to such changes in the weight of the baby. Babies born to mothers who have low social support during early pregnancy were smaller in size and had a significantly reduced birth weight, on average. 

“In fetal conditions, a common concern is how the baby is growing,” Ganti adds. “A lot of these conditions cause the baby to not grow as well and the babies stay very small. They have to be delivered early and stay in the ICU to get help with feeding until they can go home.”

Doctors at the OBGYNs at the ICU and beyond, recommend parents stay cautious of such dangerous conditions that appear during their pregnancy. By staying healthy and having the right social support, you can move towards a successful delivery with a healthy baby. Whether it is a physician, nutritionist or church member, it is important to reach out to anyone in your community that can provide emotional care. 

Taking the right steps during your pregnancy are not only vital for your health but the health of the incoming child. Surrounding yourself with the best support group is a major key to a positive social and emotional health status for peaceful conditions. 

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