This condition requires closer monitoring before and during pregnancy. The closer blood sugar levels are to the normal range, the better the health of both mom and baby. This also reduces the possibility of giving birth to a large baby – which can be a problem with vaginal delivery. Tests of fetal well being including fetal movement counts are especially important for diabetic mothers through the final trimester of pregnancy. Specialist physicians may assist your obstetrician in closely monitoring your health.
Pre-existing high blood pressure requires close follow up in pregnancy. It brings about a 20% risk of developing pre-eclampsia, as well as possibilities of an early separation of the placenta from the uterine lining (placental abruption) or slowed growth (Intra Uterine Growth Restriction). A specialist physician in hypertension or cardiology may help your obstetrician manage your care. More frequent office visits and evaluation of fetal well may be recommended.
In pregnancy, the severity of asthma does not change for the majority of women. With good control of asthma, there is no more risk for asthmatic women who are pregnant than for a non-asthmatic.
Epilepsy and Pregnancy
According to the Epilepsy Foundation, having epilepsy should not prevent a woman from planning a family. The vast majority of babies born to women with epilepsy are normal and healthy. Key strategies for pregnant women who have epilepsy include:
- Taking your anti-epileptic medication(s) as prescribed
- Reducing factors that trigger seizures
- Reporting all seizures to your neurologist
The shift in your hormones can cause a change in the frequency of seizures. A small percentage of women have an increase in the number of seizures while others have no change. Preconception planning, followed by early and on-going prenatal care, is very helpful in ensuring a safe and healthy pregnancy.
Being pregnant when you have an eating disorder may be especially difficult. Eating a balanced diet and tolerating weight gain are vital components of your pregnancy. Your baby’s vital organs and nervous system develop during the first 3 months of pregnancy, so nutrition is especially important during this time.
Speak openly with your health care provider about your eating disorder. There may be medication and emotional support that may help during your pregnancy. Your baby’s growth and well being will be monitored closely. Counseling is recommended to help you adjust to feelings about your changing body.
Depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses
This may require treatment while you are pregnant. Your health care provider will evaluate any medication you are taking for possible risks it poses to your baby. If you have a history of depression or anxiety you should continue care with your mental health provider to help reduce your risk for postpartum depression. Do not discontinue psychiatric medication without consulting a health care professional.
Teenagers typically do not have the best diets and may be at risk for nutritional deficiencies – teens need to be monitored for adequate weight gain. Many times, teens do not seek prenatal care until the pregnancy is pretty far along. Smoking, alcohol and drug use may contribute to risks of preterm labor, premature rupture of the membranes, and/or pre-eclampsia. Any high-risk behaviors must be avoided – this includes drug, tobacco and alcohol use, multiple sexual exposures, and unprotected sex. Health care providers will work with school social workers to be sure that the teenager’s appointments are met and her schoolwork maintained. Tutors will be offered if conditions require bed rest.
Any drug you are taking should be discussed with your doctor; recreational drugs are particularly concerning. If you are struggling with addiction, here are some good reasons to seek help:
Drug abuse or addiction can contribute to premature birth, underweight babies, increased need for resuscitation at birth, tremors and addiction in your newborn. Cocaine addicted newborns can be extremely sensitive to light, noise and other types of stimulation, and can often be irritable and difficult to calm.
Even occasional recreational drug use, particularly cocaine, can be disastrous for your baby. Babies have a difficult time going through withdrawal symptoms, just as adults do. Be sure that you are honest with your clinician, so s/he will be able to support you and care more effectively for you and your baby. Your clinician will help you obtain confidential help.