Pregnancy is one of the hardest things a woman will ever do. It puts a huge burden on her body and it lasts a long time. Nine months to be exact, though it will feel a lot longer than that. There are so many changes going on. Morning sickness plagues the first trimester, and then when that has passed there is a period of uncomfortable growing pains. Then, the third trimester comes, and mom-to-be is incredibly uncomfortable and just wants the baby out.
Added to all of this are the pregnancy hormones which can cause a whole host of other symptoms that are uncomfortable. Since pregnancy causes so many changes in the body, it can also bring on a lot of conditions that a woman may not get otherwise. The good news is, these conditions are usually only present while the woman is pregnant, but it doesn’t make the situation any easier.
Another thing is that these are not so well-known. These are conditions that no one warns mom about so it can be quite distressing when a mom-to-be starts showing symptoms of one of these and immediately runs to call her doctor. Even the conditions that are more well-known, are not as common as people think they are.
We are going to go over 21 little-known conditions that a woman can find herself dealing with when she is bringing her baby into the world.
There are pregnancy complications out there that we have all heard of, but we tend to think they are more common than they actually are. Preeclampsia is one condition that is on everyone’s mind. They know about it and they worry that they are going to get it. However, it is not that common.
Preeclampsia is defined as the sudden increase of pressure anytime after the 20th week of pregnancy. In serious cases, this can lead to organ failure and respiratory problems. The good news is that it only actually occurs in five to seven percent of pregnant woman, but the risk does increase with the woman’s age. A little-known fact about this condition is that the medical field is not even sure what causes preeclampsia in pregnant women.
Gestational diabetes is another condition that may not be so mysterious, but women tend to think this happens more often than it actually does. Gestational diabetes happens when a pregnant woman’s placenta produces hormones the block insulin. In a normal, non-pregnant body, these hormones would break down and lower the amount of sugar in a woman’s body. Without it, the body does not break it down and too much sugar can get to the baby.
Gestational diabetes only occurs in two to 14% of pregnant women and there are those who are at a higher risk. Women who are bigger, who don’t exercise enough and have a family history of diabetes are at a higher risk.
This is one condition that almost every woman experience when they are pregnant, but they don’t exactly know that it is a condition. They believe it is just a normal part of pregnancy and something they will have to deal with until the baby comes. Swelling, which normally occurs in the feet, happens because of the water increase in a pregnant woman’s body. The water increase is by as much as 1.5 to two gallons.
The reason it is normally found in the feet and ankles is thanks to gravity. When women spend a lot of time on their feet, the extra fluid will all go south and end up pooling in her ankles and feet. The only real treatment for this is to put your feet up. Give the fluid a chance to even out over your body.
This one can come out of left field for a lot of women, and I know it did for myself. I always get carpal tunnel when I am pregnant, and it is not fun. Carpal tunnel happens as a result of pressure on a nerve in the wrist. This pressure happens in pregnancy because of swelling, even if you can’t see the swelling on the outside.
It is an uncomfortable feeling; your hands go numb and feel tingly. It is the same sensation you have if your feet fall asleep. This mostly becomes a problem at night, which can make sleeping hard. This condition can be eased by wearing wrist guards when it is acting up. The good news is that it does usually go away as soon as the baby is born.
There are many things that we all consider to be normal parts of pregnancy. Things that just are supposed to happen in order to grow and nurture a little baby. Back pain is thought to be a regular part of pregnancy that is unavoidable. It can actually be a lot more serious than just a normal ache. Even women who have never struggled with back issues in the past can be plagued with pain.
Researchers estimate that every one in two pregnant women will suffer from severe back pain. For a quarter of these women, the pain is a serious problem, and in eight percent it is actually disabling. A lot of pregnant women actually have to be put on bedrest because their pain is so severe.
There is a very important reason why women have their pressure taken at every appointment with the OB or midwife. High pressure can happen to anyone, and it is important that it is monitored throughout pregnancy. This is also called Hypertension and it happens when the arteries are narrowed, and this causes a bit of build up to happen.
This can make it hard for everything to reach the placenta, and this can be dangerous. The placenta is what nourishes our baby and makes sure they have everything they need. No pregnant woman wants this to be compromised. Hypertension can also lead to preeclampsia, which we discussed previously, so you will be monitored very closely if your numbers are too high.
There are many people all over the world who are anemic, but anemia is also something that a woman can all of a sudden develop during pregnancy. Anemia is when a woman has a low red cell count. In other words, it also means that a woman does not have enough iron in her system and eating habits. Because the volume grows so much to support the placenta and fetus, it needs a lot of iron to make sure it can keep up.
Anemia isn’t exactly dangerous, but it can lead to more serious problems like premature labor, low birth-seize, preeclampsia, and even developmental problems.
This one is more common than people realize, researchers estimate that about 56 million pregnant women have anemia all over the world. Luckily, treatment is easy and usually, all women have to do is take an iron supplement and eat more red meat or iron-rich foods.
PICA is something a lot of women read about but don’t actually think it happens to anyone. We all know that we have to eat healthy foods to ensure our little one grows and is able to thrive. A lot of women are very careful about what they put in their body when they are pregnant. A lot of women also have cravings during their pregnancy, and it is normal for the ‘normal’ things like pickles, ice cream, or hamburgers.
PICA is a case when a woman has a craving to ingest non-food items. This is one of the more unusual conditions to happen when a woman is pregnant. Those who have PICA usually want to snack on mud, uncooked starch, or ice. It has also caused women to want to consume paint, baby powder, and chalk. Experts aren’t even sure how many women have PICA and can only give a range of eight to 65% of pregnant women.
Clots in the system are always dangerous, and it is probably one of the most dangerous conditions on this list that pregnant women are susceptible to. The proper name for this is thrombosis and it has the ability to be very dangerous.
Women who are pregnant are six times more likely to contract thrombosis when they are pregnant. This is due to the hormonal changes that go on during pregnancy.
If there is just one clot, that is easy to treat and doesn’t normally cause any bigger issues. The harm comes when it is not treated, and it can break off and travel to very vital organs in the body. This can be life-threatening. It is important to bring up any concerns with your doctor and they can check to try and catch it early, which is key.
Headaches seem like they are just a part of life. Everyone gets headaches, and probably multiple ones throughout a year. Chronic headaches are a condition that pregnant women can get, and it can last through the entire first half of their pregnancy. These headaches will likely come and go, but they can be crippling.
They don’t know exactly know what causes these chronic headaches in pregnancy, but they suspect it is due to the hormonal changes that a woman goes through when she is pregnant. There are meds you can take to treat headaches in pregnancy, but it is important to make sure they are safe for you to take while you are pregnant.
No one really knows medical terms need to be so long and hard to say, but they have a great effect at scaring us. Toxoplasmosis is another condition that can affect pregnant women, and not a lot of people know about it. It is an infection that is caused by a one-celled parasite, whose name is even longer.
People who are not pregnant can contract this but they show little symptoms because the immune system protects them. A pregnant woman has a lower immune system and is more susceptible to showing symptoms of this. The symptoms are often flu-like, and treatment usually involves antibiotics. The biggest reason this happens is due to cat litter. Cat urine carries this parasite and it is advised that pregnant women should not change cat litter.
This is another one that is due to a woman’s lowered immune system. Pregnant women have an immune system that is not working at its finest, due to growing another human baby. This makes a lot of normal things very dangerous for a pregnant woman. Food poisoning is never fun, but it can be dangerous for a woman who is pregnant.
Everything we eat goes to the baby and if the food we eat is contaminated, then it has the ability to potentially harm the baby. It is advised that women are very careful with what they eat when they are pregnant. They should avoid deli meat, sushi, and make sure all their food is properly cooked.
Everyone always talks about glowing skin when a woman is pregnant, and most women who are pregnant know that it is likely just sweat. There are some women who have perfect, glowing skin when they are pregnant, but there are also women who are not as lucky. Melasma is another condition that pregnant women can attract, and it affects the skin.
This is also called ‘The Mask of Pregnancy’ and they are brown patches that appear on a pregnant woman’s skin during pregnancy. They usually appear on the forehead, cheeks and upper lips. This happens due to an elevated level of estrogen. When this hormone is raised, it can affect the normal production of melanin. This affects about 50-75% of pregnant women, though it is usually just the linea nigra on the stomach.
It is normal for a woman who is pregnant to have itchy skin. This is due to the skin stretching. It is normally fixed quickly with some good moisturizer. It is why women are told to regularly apply moisturizer to their skin, especially their stomach, when they are pregnant. There is a time when itching can be a sign of something more severe.
Severe itching could be a sign of intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy. This is a dysfunction of the liver, which enables the build-up of bile in a woman. This is caused by hormone levels in pregnant women. This itching is normally found on the palms of the hands and the soles of feet. A simple lab test can determine whether mom has this condition or not.
This is one condition that is incredibly rare, but it does happen, and it can be incredibly serious. This condition is incredibly uncommon, and it is not genetic. The other bad news is that there is nothing a woman can do to avoid it. If it is going to happen, it is going to happen. It is an intimidating feeling to feel out of control when it comes to your pregnancy.
This happens when the inner membrane ruptures. This exposes the growing baby to tissues in the uterus. This tissue can get wrapped around the baby and can cause birth defects. The only treatment available would be to perform surgery while the baby is still inside to try and free them from the tissue. This can come with its own risks as well.
The umbilical cord is an important and vital part of the anatomy when a woman is pregnant. It is what connects the baby to the placenta and makes sure that they get all the nutrients and oxygen that they need. If the umbilical cord were to become compromised, it could be a dangerous situation.
Vasa Previa involves the umbilical cord and it is incredibly rare. It only happens in about one in every two, 500 pregnancies. This is when the vessels from the umbilical cord rest in front of the birth canal, and the nutrients at the bottom of the placenta are not as good as the ones at the top. The treatment for this is that mom-to-be will be placed on bedrest and the baby will be given steroid shots to help their lung development.
SPD is also known as Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction, but it is better described as feeling like you got kicked by a horse "down there." Pelvic pain and pressure can be common near the end of the pregnancy as the baby gets bigger and starts to make its way to the birth canal. The pressure can be uncomfortable. However, SPD is a specific condition that causes inflammation and pain in the joint that connects the two halves of your pelvis.
This is caused by the hormone "relaxin," which is released before birth to get the body ready. A quick conversation with your doctor about your symptoms can help you determine if what you are experiencing is normal or something else. Sometimes, physiotherapy is prescribed to help with the symptoms.
The placenta is so important to the development and well-being of the little baby inside of you. It is what provides all the food and everything the baby needs to grow strong and healthy. Placenta accreta is one of the conditions that can occur, that not a lot of people know about.
Placenta accreta is when the placenta embeds into the uterine wall and muscles. Basically, it gets a little too excited and just connects way too deeply into the woman. This can have some complications after birth as it is harder for the woman’s body to release it from the wall. The OB will be able to tell if you have it by an ultrasound, and if you do a plan will be made for what to do when the baby is born.
PUPPS is one of the most annoying conditions that a woman can contract when pregnant. PUPPS stands for pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy. We are glad there is a short form for this condition. It is an itchy, uncomfortable, and annoying rash that pregnant women can develop. Women who have had it have described it as rolling around in allergenic grass.
Experts are not entirely sure why this happens, but they do know that it only appears to happen to women in their first pregnancy. So, if you are on your second or third pregnancy, you are in the clear. Unfortunately, the only cure for PUPPS is to give birth, so mom will have to battle it until then. Mom can ask her OB or midwife about what she can do to try and get some relief while she waits.
The heart is what runs the body; it is what keeps everything going and a healthy heart is needed to ensure a strong pregnancy. However, heart disease is something that women are vulnerable to when they are pregnant. In general, a woman’s cardiovascular system changes during pregnancy, her volume doubles, her heart rate increases, and she can have low pressure due to supporting flow to the uterus.
In a lot of cases, these changes cause no concern for a pregnant woman. There are instances where pregnant women can develop heart-related problems during her pregnancy. The rate is about one to three percent of pregnancies, so it is very low. It is important to tell your doctor if you have a history of heart problems or a family history of them, though.
References: livescience.com, nichd.nih.gov, hopkinsmedicine.org, stayathomemum.com.au, mumcentral.com.au