Everything You Need to Know about Managing Pregnancy Illnesses

Everything you need to know about pregnancy health illnesses

Pregnancy is one of the most exciting and yet challenging journeys that a woman undertakes to give birth to new life. This is the time when your hormones play a major role in determining your overall wellbeing and mood, starting from the first trimester itself. Some common pregnancy health issues can also make your daily life uncomfortable during these 9 months.

In this article, we talk about some of the ways in which you can prevent or manage some of these conditions and experience a more enjoyable pregnancy.

Morning sickness

Morning sickness is one of the most unpleasant pregnancy illnesses that is accompanied by nausea, vomiting, weight loss, dizziness, headaches, fatigue, and rapid heart rate.

Why it happens?

Morning sickness usually happens due to an increase in the hormone Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG), during pregnancy. If you have a history of motion sickness, migraine with nausea, or are carrying multiples, the chance of severe morning sickness increases.

When does it occurs

Morning sickness usually kicks in during the first trimester. It mostly starts during the 6th week of pregnancy and lasts up to the 16th or 18th week. Although it gets better for most women after this, some suffer from it throughout their pregnancy. The term “morning sickness” is a misnomer though, as the symptoms can appear at any time of the day.

What you can do to manage it

If you have regular morning sickness, certain home remedies will help you feel better. You can eat toast or rusk first thing in the morning, sip on lemonade, eat small but frequent meals, follow a high-protein and nutrient-dense diet, and drink water throughout the day. If you have hyperemesis gravidarum or severe morning sickness, consult your doctor and come up with a plan of action.

Heartburn

Heartburn is a burning sensation in the middle of the chest. Although it’s fairly common, it can become far more intense and frequent during pregnancy.

Why it happens

During pregnancy, the muscular valve between the stomach and oesophagus gets relaxed due to the secretion of the pregnancy hormone progesterone. This makes it easier for the stomach acid to pass through the oesophagus and irritate the lining.

When does it occurs

It’s most common during the third trimester, when the growing uterus puts pressure on the stomach and intestines.

What you can do to manage it

To prevent heartburn, eat smaller meals more frequently and don’t lie down until an hour after you eat. Also avoid oily, spicy, fried and fatty foods. Reducing constipation by consuming a fibre-rich diet can also help in avoiding heartburn. If you are suffering from heartburn, drinking a glass of cold milk might help. Avoid wearing clothes that fit tightly around your chest and waist.

High blood pressure

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is blood pressure that is greater than or equal to 130/80mm Hg. If not managed properly, this can become a serious issue during pregnancy.

Why it happens

There are certain factors that make a woman more prone to hypertension during pregnancy. Being overweight or obese before getting pregnant, lack of exercise, drinking, smoking, family history of pregnancy-related hypertension, carrying multiples, pregnancy over the age of 35 years, use of IVF, and pre-existing diabetes are some leading causes.

When does it occurs

If hypertension exists prior to pregnancy or develops within the first 20 weeks, it’s known as chronic hypertension. Gestational hypertension, on the other hand, develops after the first 20 weeks.

What you can do to manage it

The best way to manage high BP is by prevention. This can be achieved through a healthy nutritious diet and exercise. You might also need to reduce your salt intake. Also, avoid smoking and drinking alcohol during pregnancy. If you’re at risk of developing high BP, you can get a home monitor to check the blood pressure in between visits to the doctor. If you are diagnosed with high BP, your doctor will prescribe medicines that are safe during pregnancy.

Gestational diabetes

Gestational diabetes (GD) develops during pregnancy when your blood sugar spikes too much. This usually occurs when your body is not producing enough insulin to handle the extra build-up of glucose, which is normal during pregnancy.

Why it happens

The following factors can increase the risk of GD in some women:

  • Being overweight or obese before pregnancy
  • If the previous baby weighed 4.5 kg or more
  • If the mother suffered from GD in a previous pregnancy
  • An immediate family member has diabetes
  • If you are more than 35 years of age

When it occurs

Gestational diabetes can manifest anytime during pregnancy. Unfortunately, the symptoms are hard to diagnose until it’s very late. So, it’s best to get tested if you’re at risk. The test for GD is known as the Glucose Tolerance Test and happens between the 24th and 28th week of pregnancy. This test is conducted if you have a high level of glucose in your urine. If you are feeling overwhelmingly tired and not gaining weight, talk to your doctor immediately.

What you can do to manage it

GD might lead to high blood sugar and higher birth weight of the child. It can also increase the baby’s risk of suffering from type 2 diabetes in the future. In the mother, it can cause preeclampsia and other complications. Timely blood tests and leading a healthy lifestyle is important to prevent or manage GD. If GD is detected, selecting the right kind of carbohydrate and monitoring the number of calories consumed is important. Replacing refined foods and polished cereals and pulses and fruit juices with complex carbohydrates (like whole-grain cereals, oats, bajra, jowar, ragi, whole pulses, vegetables and fruits with skins) can help in managing GD.

Breastfeeding and a healthy lifestyle for both the mother and the baby will help mitigate the problems associated with GD after delivery.

Pregnancy health complications are an inevitable part of your journey as a mother. Therefore, it is vital to be aware of the above health issues that may arise during pregnancy as well understand how to manage them.