Information for Patients
While childbirth usually goes well, complications can happen. They can cause a risk to the mother, baby, or both. Possible complications include
- Preterm (premature) labor, when labor starts before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy
- Problems with the umbilical cord
- Problems with the position of the baby, such as breech, in which the baby is going to come out feet first
- Birth injuries
For some of these problems, the baby may need to be delivered surgically by a Cesarean section.
Health Problems in Pregnancy
Every pregnancy has some risk of problems. You may have problems because of a health condition you had before you got pregnant. You could also develop a condition during pregnancy. Other causes of problems during pregnancy can include being pregnant with more than one baby, a health problem in a previous pregnancy, substance abuse during pregnancy, or being over age 35. Any of these can affect your health, the health of your baby, or both.
If you have a chronic condition, you should talk to your health care provider about how to minimize your risk before you get pregnant. Once you are pregnant, you may need a health care team to monitor your pregnancy. Some common conditions that can complicate a pregnancy include
- High blood pressure
- Polycystic ovary syndrome
- Kidney problems
- Autoimmune disorders
Other conditions that can make pregnancy risky can happen while you are pregnant - for example, gestational diabetes and Rh incompatibility. Good prenatal care can help detect and treat them.
Some discomforts, like nausea, back pain, and fatigue, are common during pregnancy. Sometimes it is hard to know what is normal. Call your health care provider if something is bothering or worrying you.
Taking home a new baby is one of the happiest times in a woman's life. But it also presents both physical and emotional challenges.
- Get as much rest as possible. You may find that all you can do is eat, sleep, and care for your baby. And that is perfectly okay. You will have spotting or bleeding, like a menstrual period, off and on for up to six weeks.
- You might also have swelling in your legs and feet, feel constipated, have menstrual-like cramping. Even if you are not breastfeeding, you can have milk leaking from your nipples, and your breasts might feel full, tender, or uncomfortable.
- Follow your doctor's instructions on how much activity, like climbing stairs or walking, you can do for the next few weeks.
- Doctors usually recommend that you abstain from sexual intercourse for four to six weeks after birth.
In addition to physical changes, you may feel sad or have the "baby blues." If you are extremely sad or are unable to care for yourself or your baby, you might have a serious condition called postpartum depression.
Dept. of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health