Pregnancy Complications


Complications with Labor and Birth

Complications with Labor and Birth

While many people experience normal, healthy labor and birth, sometimes complications can arise. While it's important to not get too stressed out about what could go wrong, it's also important to remain informed. Read on to find out everything you need to know about the potential complications you could encounter during labor and birth!

Key Points

  • Preterm labor can occur as a result of dehydration or stress. It is more common in people who have experienced one before.
  • GBS is a potentially dangerous infection that some expecting people can encounter. You'll be tested for this during your pregnancy.
  • If you notice anything abnormal about your health, it's important that you call your doctor as soon as possible.

Pregnancy Complications

Premature Labor

Premature or preterm labor is when a woman goes into labor before the 37th week of pregnancy, or three weeks before her due date. The earlier pre-term labor is spotted and treated, the better chance of stopping it. When symptoms go untreated, the cervix may open and cause an early birth of the baby. Premature babies need intensive care in the hospital to help with breathing, feeding, and regulation of body temperature.

Any woman can have pre-term labor, but some women are at a higher risk. Problems with the uterus or placenta and a history of pre-term birth with another pregnancy increase the risk of preterm labor. Dehydration also boosts the chances of pre-term labor. Dink plenty of water especially in warm weather and after exercise to keep from becoming dehydrated.

Stress can also raise your risk of going into pre-term labor. It's important to manage stress during pregnancy for the health and wellness of both you and your baby. Try to avoid doing unnecessary tasks, set boundaries with relationships, and fix any issues in your life that are causing you unneeded stress. Your baby will thank you!

Call your doctor right away if you have any these signs of premature labor:

Contractions: You may or may not feel pain, but your abdomen or stomach will get very hard (feel like it is tightening) and then relax, on and off.

Menstrual-like cramping: You may or may not be uncomfortable with these cramps that feel like menstrual cramps.

Gas-type pains: Sharp pains in your stomach, diarrhea or nausea may be a sign of trouble.

Low pelvic pressure: You may feel like the baby is putting a lot of pressure down very low inside.

Low backache: You may have a very strong ache in your lower back or could just feel a dull ache in that area.

Blood from your vagina: Light spotting or a significant amount of blood should be reported to the doctor right away. Blood can be red or brown in color.

Increased discharge from your vagina: Much more discharge than what you are used to during your pregnancy can be a sign of preterm labor. A sudden gush of a lot of water, or a small trickle that is continuous should also be reported to the doctor. Discharge can be watery, pinkish, or brownish in color.

It's possible you may experience these symptoms during a false labor, but it's still important to get it addressed as soon as possible. You likely won't know if you're experiencing a premature labor or a false labor until after you've arrived at the hospital and been examined by a doctor.

Some Pregnancy Problems without Symptoms

Some health problems you might have during pregnancy do not have warning signs. One of these is Group B Streptococcus (GBS) infection. GBS is a common infection that rarely makes adults sick. The bacterium lives in the gastrointestinal system, along with many other harmless bacteria. Between 10 to 30 percent of pregnant women carry GBS in their vagina and rectums. But, if GBS is passed to the baby during delivery, it can cause serious health problems in your newborn. These problems include pneumonia, blood infection, or infection of the tissues around the brain.

Because there are no symptoms of GBS, you will be tested at 35 to 37 weeks of pregnancy. The simple test involves swabbing the vagina and rectum for a sample of cells that are sent to a lab to look for GBS. If you are infected, you will be treated with intravenous (IV) antibiotics during labor and delivery to make sure the baby is protected. Once this test is scheduled for you, it's important that you keep the appointment. You do not want to go through unneeded stress by having untreated GBS, nor do you want to put your baby at unnecessary risk.

Another problem is anemia, or having below-normal levels of iron in the blood. Iron is needed for hemoglobin (a protein in blood that helps take oxygen to body tissues for energy and growth) for you and your baby. Iron also helps build bones and teeth.

Most women do not have any symptoms of anemia. For those who do, extreme fatigue is often the only sign. Your doctor will check for signs of anemia using routine blood tests during different stages of your pregnancy. If you have anemia, you will be given iron supplements. You can prevent anemia by eating lots of iron-rich foods like lean red meat, potatoes with skins, raisins, broccoli, leafy green vegetables, whole-grain breads and iron-fortified cereals. Never take an iron supplement unless directed to by a doctor. Iron supplements can cause you to gain too much iron in your system, which can cause severe problems.

Birthing Complications

Sometimes, something can go wrong as you're delivering your baby. Since you'll likely be at a hospital when these occur, it'll be easy for doctors to immediately address them. Here are some birthing complications you should be aware of:

Perinatal asphyxia

This occurs when the baby doesn't get enough oxygen during birth. It can also happen while the baby is still in the uterus, or during labor. Babies who suffer from this complication are at risk of developing cerebral palsy. If doctors believe your baby is not receiving sufficient oxygen during birth, an emergency C-section may need to be performed.

Shoulder Dystocia

This complication occurs when the baby's shoulder becomes stuck while it enters the birth canal, usually on the pelvic bone. This raises a severe risk of asphyxia, so doctors will want to address it rapidly. They will perform several maneuvers to free the baby from its stuck position so that it delivery can continue safely. It is important to perform this quickly so the baby doesn't suffocate. There is a risk of physical injury to the baby during the process of freeing it, but the alternative is asphyxia and the complications that can come with that.

Umbilical Cord Prolapse

During a normal delivery, the umbilical cord and placenta will follow the baby. If this complication occurs, the umbilical cord will drop down first, followed by the baby. As the baby moves down the birth canal, it may put pressure on the umbilical cord. Your baby is still reliant on this cord to get oxygen, so this can lead to asphyxiation. This compression will only get worse as labor contractions continue. Mortality rate when this occurs is roughly 50%. Fortunately, this is a very rare complication, only occurring in roughly half a percent of all deliveries.

When to Call the Doctor

When you are pregnant you should not hesitate to call your doctor if something is bothering or worrying you. Sometimes physical changes can be signs of a problem.

Call your doctor as soon as you can if you:

  • Are bleeding or leaking fluid from the vagina.
  • Have sudden or severe swelling in the face, hands, or fingers.
  • Get severe or long-lasting headaches.
  • Have discomfort, pain, or cramping in the lower abdomen.
  • Have a fever or chills.
  • Are vomiting or have persistent nausea.
  • Feel discomfort, pain, or burning with urination.
  • Have problems seeing or blurred vision.
  • Feel dizzy.
  • Sense a change in your baby's movement.
  • Suspect your baby is moving less than normally after 28 weeks of pregnancy. This is generally defined as less than ten movements in two hours or less.

The information in this article should not be taken as professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of a doctor for any medical questions or concerns. Moms Who Think is not responsible for any outcomes that may arise as a result of actions taken based on information we provide. It is your responsibility to do your own research and to take the appropriate measures to protect your health.

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