Some health conditions only develop during pregnancy. These are known as gestational conditions. Some of these conditions are more serious and need specialist treatment and care.
You’ll be referred to an obstetrician for your pregnancy care if you develop a condition during pregnancy. You may have extra appointments and extra scans too.
These could be a sign of serious health problems for you or your baby.
Bleeding isn’t always serious. Some women bleed a little on and off throughout pregnancy for lots of reasons. However, bleeding can sometimes be a sign of something serious.
If you’ve any bleeding from your vagina, contact your midwife or local maternity unit immediately for advice. If you’ve heavy bleeding with or without severe pain, phone for an ambulance immediately.
Placenta praevia is when the placenta’s lying low, covering your cervix. This makes it more likely to bleed.
It’s uncommon and there isn’t any specific treatment, but it does need close monitoring.
If you have placenta praevia your baby may need to be delivered by caesarean section.
Placental abruption is when your placenta comes away from the wall of your womb.
It’s more likely to happen later in pregnancy and can be life-threatening to you and your baby.
If you have a placental abruption:
Cervical weakness is when your cervix starts to open. It can lead to a miscarriage or cause your baby to be born early.
If you have cervical weakness:
If you’ve had recurrent miscarriage and/or pre-term delivery in the past, talk to your midwife or GP about getting extra help from your obstetrician early in your pregnancy. This can help to reduce the chances of it happening again.
Gestational diabetes is diabetes that develops during pregnancy.
Around 4 in 100 women develop diabetes when they’re pregnant and it’s becoming more common. Usually, it goes away after your baby’s born, but women who have gestational diabetes are seven times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes in later life. Discuss ways to stay healthy and reduce this risk with your GP.
If you have gestational diabetes, you’ll:
Some women with gestational diabetes:
When your baby’s born they’ll need to have their blood sugar level checked too. This is usually done with a blood spot test.
Your blood pressure will be checked regularly throughout your pregnancy. If it’s raised it could mean you have pregnancy-induced hypertension or pre-eclampsia.
Both conditions can sometimes cause serious problems for you and your baby.
Your obstetrician may suggest you take tablets to lower your blood pressure.
More about high blood pressure
Pre-eclampsia is a condition that you only get when you’re pregnant. Most of the time it’s mild but for some women it can be dangerous for them and their baby. For this reason, you’ll be closely monitored by your midwife and obstetrician.
More about pre-eclampsia
DVT is a blood clot in a deep vein in your leg, calf or pelvis.
You may be more likely to get DVT if you’re:
Swollen and uncomfortable legs are common when you’re pregnant. However, DVT is more likely during pregnancy and in the first 12 weeks after having a baby.
The main symptoms, usually in just one leg, are:
If you have these symptoms it doesn’t always mean there’s a problem. If you’re worried, talk to your midwife or GP immediately.
If your medical history suggests you’re at an increased risk of developing a DVT, your obstetrician may suggest giving you daily medication to try to prevent DVT formation.
More about deep vein thrombosis
Pulmonary embolism happens when a blood vessel in your lungs is blocked by a clot.
These clots can:
If a DVT is found and treated, it lowers your risk of developing a pulmonary embolism.
The main symptoms of pulmonary embolism are:
If you have any of these symptoms, phone an ambulance immediately.
Many women have some itching in pregnancy. Usually it’s just a bit uncomfortable, but sometimes it can be the sign of a condition called obstetric cholestasis.
Obstetric cholestasis affects your liver, and can lead to your baby being born early or stillbirth.
If you have itching, even if mild and particularly on your hands and feet, always tell your midwife or your GP. An obstetrician will provide your pregnancy care if obstetric cholestasis is diagnosed.
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2 November 2023