It takes about 40 weeks for a fertilised egg to develop into a full grown foetus. For the foetus to develop further and survive, it needs to be given proper nourishment and protection in the uterus. As the mother and the foetus both go through a lot of changes during this period, they tend to face problems. These problems are a part of the pregnancy process, and many a times don’t pose any serious threat to the mother or to the baby. Simple self-care measures and guidance can help relieve the uneasiness caused by such minor issues. But there are certain conditions which can be life threatening for both the mother and the child.
As a woman’s body goes through a lot of changes when she is pregnant it is absolutely normal if she experiences various types of problems during this period. Some of the complaints are a result of changes in the levels of sex hormones, while some of them are because of the growing weight of the foetus and the pressure it is exerting on other organs. The intensity of the problem may vary from woman to woman. The common complaints during pregnancy include:
- Breast tenderness
- Nausea and vomiting
- Increased pigmentation, dryness or other changes in the skin
- Swollen ankles
- Varicose veins
- Increase urge to urinate
- Difficulty in sleeping as a result of discomfort
- Shortness of breath
It is absolutely normal to experience a couple or more of these complaints simultaneously. However, if a specific symptom is causing alarming discomfort, for example severe vomiting or pain while passing urine, the pregnant woman should seek medical help as soon as possible.
High risk pregnancy
For many women, the nine months of pregnancy pass pretty comfortably except for some minor common problems like backache, tiredness, swollen ankles etc. But for some, it doesn’t progress very smoothly. In such cases, both the mother and the baby are at risk and the situation at times may get so serious that it may cause lifetime defects in the baby or the mother or even death of the baby or the mother. The factors responsible for a high risk pregnancy are:
When a woman is less than 15 years old and she gets pregnant, there’s a high possibility of her going into labour before the end of her pregnancy period. Such a woman may also develop certain complications like pre-eclampsia and eclampsia during pregnancy. If a woman is more than 35 years old, she is also at a risk of developing pre-eclampsia or diabetes during her pregnancy. She is also likely to have some pre-existing disorders such as non-cancerous tumours in the uterus or diabetes mellitus. In case the woman is more than 35 years old, the possibility of the foetus developing a chromosomal abnormality also increases.
Poor diet, smoking, and substance abuse during pregnancy greatly increase the risk of developing complications like miscarriage, premature labour, and intra-uterine growth retardation.
- Physical factors
A woman may have to face a delayed first stage of labour if she has a small build and a small pelvis. If she weighs less than 47.5 kg at the time of pregnancy, she is likely to have a small, underweight baby. And when a woman is overweight, she is more likely to develop diabetes mellitus and high blood pressure during pregnancy.
- Problems in previous pregnancy
When a woman has a history of problematic pregnancy, which may involve premature labour or stillbirth, there is a possibility that in her current pregnancy too there may develop mild to severe complications. If her first baby was underweight, she is more likely to deliver another underweight baby.
- Pre-existing diseases
A woman who is already suffering from a disorder like diabetes millitus, high blood pressure, or epilepsy has an increased risk of developing complications. Such a woman and her foetus require additional monitoring before and during pregnancy.
There is not much one can do to completely relieve the common complaints, but some self-care measures can ease these symptoms.
- Eating nutritious food does not only contribute towards a normal growth of the foetus but also helps the woman avoid digestion related problems like nausea, heartburn, and constipation.
- As far as possible pregnant women should avoid spicy food, as such food items contribute to heartburn.
- Eating small portions of food more frequently and sleeping propped up by several pillows may help reduce nausea and heartburn.
- To avoid or reduce the problem of varicose veins and swollen ankles, the woman should make sure that she doesn’t stand for long periods and should sit or lie down whenever she feels tired or dizzy.
- Maintaining a straight posture while standing, sitting on a chair with a good back support, sleeping on a firm mattress, and wearing flat shoes reduce backache and sciatica to a great extent.
- The lady should take a warm-water bath, have a glass of milk, and listen to good music or read a book before she sleeps.
- During pregnancy, she should not take any over-the-counter medicines without consulting her doctor.