Health Concerns During Pregnancy

Institutes & Services > Women's Services

Preeclampsia (High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy)

  • High blood pressure, or hypertension, may occur for the first time during pregnancy. This is referred to as gestational hypertension, previously referred to as pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH), preeclampsia or toxemia of pregnancy. Many women may have no symptoms, while others may experience a few or all of the signs and symptoms.
  • Call your physician or midwife if you have any or all of the following symptoms.
  • Recurring headaches – sudden or severe
  • A visual problem – blurred or double vision or “seeing spots”
  • Dizzy feeling that does not go away
  • A sudden increased swelling of face, hands, legs or feet that does not go away
  • Abdominal pain that becomes severe and does not go away
  • A decreased amount of urine or times that you empty your bladder without a decrease in your fluid intake
  • A sudden weight gain of more than one pound per day

High Blood Sugar During Pregnancy 

High blood sugar, or blood glucose, may occur for the first time during pregnancy. High blood sugar during pregnancy is referred to as gestational diabetes mellitus
(GDM). Causes of high blood sugar may be too much food, or too little insulin produced in the body by the pancreas, illness or stress. GDM may start slowly and, if not treated properly, may lead to a medical emergency and possible problems for your baby.

Call your physician or midwife if you have any or all of the following symptoms.

  • Extreme thirst
  • A need to empty your bladder often
  • Dry skin
  • Unsatisfied hunger
  • Blurred vision
  • Drowsiness
  • Slow-healing wounds

To protect the health of you and your baby, you may need to change the foods you eat. By changing the amount and the type of food you eat, without decreasing calories, you may be able to control your diabetes.

Premature Labor

Preterm or premature labor is labor that occurs three weeks or more before your due date (37 weeks gestation). This means that you have contractions that result in a change in your cervix. Because preterm labor isn’t always painful, many women often are unaware that they are in labor. Since the fetus is not fully grown, it is healthier for the baby to stay inside your uterus, and every effort should be made to stop labor.

The following are signs that occur during preterm labor. However, they also can be a very normal part of a healthy pregnancy. What you need to keep in mind as you review these signs is what might represent a change from your normal pattern or experience. Be aware of the following:

  • An increase or change in vaginal discharge (watery, mucous or bloody)
  • Menstrual-like cramps felt low in the abdomen, near the pubic bone (may be constant or come and go)
  • Pelvic or lower abdominal pressure
  • Lower, dull backache – lower back pain that may radiate to the sides or the front (may or may not be relieved by change of position)
  • Intestinal cramps with or without diarrhea
  • Regular contractions or uterine tightening occurring every 15 minutes or closer (may not be painful)
  • A general feeling that something is not right
  • If you have any of these symptoms before the 37th week of your pregnancy, do all of the following.
  • Go to the bathroom and empty your bladder
  • Check to make sure that you have not missed a dose of any medication you might be taking
  • Maintain adequate fluid intake (eight to 10 glasses of water each day)
  • Rest on your left side lying down
  • Record uterine contractions
  • Call your physician or midwife

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