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Pregnancy signs and symptoms can range from mild to severe. The symptoms an expectant mother experiences can vary from pregnancy to pregnancy as well.

Some of the warning signs that may point to complications can also be "normal" pregnancy symptoms. Where do you draw the line between normal and something more serious? What pregnancy complications should you watch out for? 

Preventing pregnancy complications

Can you prevent pregnancy complications? Not always, obviously. But there are certainly risk factors for almost every pregnancy complication under the sun, just as there are chronic health conditions that would require a different management regime during pregnancy. Checking in with your family doctor before trying to conceive, and where relevant a specialist, can change the course of your pregnancy. These preconception checkups can benefit women and their future babies in many ways. Some examples of issues that you could come across are:

  • Remedying nutritional deficiencies.
  • Weight loss before getting pregnant. Obesity increases the risk of various pregnancy complications.
  • Being newly diagnosed with a chronic health condition, like hypertension for instance.
  • Discussing the management of existing chronic conditions during pregnancy. Some medications are absolutely not compatible with expecting a baby. You'll have to find alternatives before you conceive.
  • Discussing complications you experienced during any previous pregnancy with your doctor, and figuring out the risk of similar complications arising again.

Is it a complication or not?

Once you are pregnant, you'll be experiencing all kinds of different symptoms. Is your fatigue normal, or does it point to anemia? Is the frequent urination you have been plagued by the result of gestational diabetes or a normal pregnancy sign? Is your morning sickness normal or could you be suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum? These questions can be hard to answer without the help of a skilled medical professional, especially for women who are expecting their first baby. We'll now go through the symptoms of some common pregnancy complications you'll want to watch out for. It will hardly be an exhaustive list, so I will immediately use the opportunity to let you know that it is absolutely fine to contact your OBGYN if you are worried at all. Even if you only have a nagging feeling that something could be wrong, you have the right to have it checked out to either be put at ease, or to receive treatment for a complication.

Iron-deficiency and folic acid anemia

Anemia not having enough healthy red blood cells is a very common problem in pregnant women. Taking iron and folic acid supplements, or remedying the deficiency through diet, should eliminate the symptoms of extreme fatigue and weakness. It is best to be checked for anemia before you commence trying to conceive, but if you have pregnancy anemia it will soon be caught by your healthcare provider during a prenatal appointment. Your iron levels will be monitored throughout your nine months.

Pregnancy-induced hypertension

Developing high blood pressure after the 20th week of pregnancy will get you the gestational hypertension label. Initially managed in much the same way as chronic hypertension through either diet or medication pregnancy-induced high blood pressure is monitored with extreme caution. Why? A high blood pressure can also indicate an even more dangerous complication called preeclampsia. This condition involves protein in the urine alongside high blood pressure, and can quickly cause life-threatening seizures. The only treatment is delivery. High blood pressure is frequently symptomless. Some people will notice headaches, fatigue, and an irregular heartbeat, but prenatal appointments certainly include measuring your blood pressure so don't worry about trying to diagnose this yourself. Preeclampsia can develop rapidly, however. If you have vision changes such as blurred vision and sensitivity to light, along with perhaps constant headaches, a pain in your abdomen, and decreased urine output... contact your doctor right away and feel free to head to the ER.

Gestational diabetes

Gestational diabetes is diabetes that develops during pregnancy. It can have a negative effect on both maternal and fetal health. Though pregnant women in many countries are routinely tested for gestational diabetes, you will want to know the symptoms:

  • Extreme thirst, even if you are drinking enough water
  • Frequent urination
  • Blurred vision
  • Contrary to popular belief, weight loss even when you eat a lot
  • Fatigue

Prenatal depression

While the most dangerous physical pregnancy complications can endanger both mothers and their babies to much that they require rapid action, mental health is equally important to monitor. Everyone knows about postpartum depression by now. Did you know that you can also get prenatal depression? The effects can be disastrous, especially for those women who feel suicidal. You are probably aware of the symptoms of depression:

  • Not enjoying life anymore
  • Feeling sad or down
  • Concentration problems
  • Sleep-related problems
  • Fatigue
  • And specific to prenatal depression, bad feelings about your baby, your ability to parent, or both.

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