Despite having a healthy pregnancy, moms-to-be need to also be prepared for life-threatening complicatins during labor and delivery
Though it’s not good for moms to be too worried or afraid of labor and delivery, it always helps to be prepared. On your next visit to your OB-Gynecologist, make sure you ask them about these complications.
Also known as postpartum hemorrhage, this dangerous complication is the leading cause of maternal death. It occurs when there is profuse bleeding of the uterus, cervix, or vagina.
How it happens: Postpartum hemorrhage is often the result of uterine atony, or when the uterus fails to contract after labor and delivery. It can also be caused by severe vaginal and cervical tears or lacerations. This complication makes way for excessive bleeding that can lead to severe hemorrhage or hypovolemic shock, a dangerous condition wherein severe fluid loss renders the heart unable to pump sufficient blood throughout the body.
How it can be prevented: Once PPH is suspected, measures must be taken to prevent excessive bleeding. These measure can include administering oxytocin, which stimulates uterine contractions. A uterine massage can also be done to encourage contractions. A catheter may also be inserted to empty the bladder, making it easier for the uterus to contract. If the bleeding doesn’t stop, a pelvic exam is done to determine the severity of lacerations. In some cases, blood transfusion is required.
Once the bleeding stops, IV fluids and medication will continue to be administered, while doctors keep a close watch on the new mom’s blood pressure and pulse.
When it occurs in pregnant women or new moms it is also referred to as maternal sepsis. It is a form of blood poisoning the occurs after an inflammatory response to infection.
How it happens: Sepsis can be the result of an infection, like pneumonia or UTI (urinary tract infections). The risk for sepsis is also increased after miscarriages, C-sections, prolonged labor, ruptured membranes, mastitis, or viral or bacterial illnesses.
Those with diabetes or those who have undergone invasive fertility procedures and tests are more at risk for developing this condition.
How it can be prevented: Since labor and delivery brings about many changes in a woman’s body, sepsis can’t easily be detected. Women with sepsis can experience dizziness, chills or profuse sweating.
Preeclampsia is a pregnancy complication that causes an increase in blood pressure as well as damage to the liver and kidneys. It is commonly detected when a pregnant woman is 20 weeks along.
How it happens: This condition can happen to women whose blood pressure was normal before pregnancy. It is believed to be linked to the development of the placenta. During early pregnancy, new blood vessels form in order to supply blood to the placenta. Preeclampsia develops as the result of abnormal development or function of these vessels, which can be caused by insufficient blood flow, blood vessel damage, or immune system problems.
How it can be prevented: It’s important to watch out for its symptoms–protein in the urine, severe headaches, blurry vision, abdominal pain, edema, nausea, vomiting, poor urine output, decrease in platelets, shortness of breath, liver problems.
More studies are needed to find out how to prevent this complication, which often has no warning symptoms. Measures to prevent this condition are mostly focused on lowering your risk, like reducing salt intake, exercising, counting calories, upping your intake of vitamins like vitamin C, D, and E. Medications that your doctor can recommend are low-dose aspirin or calcium supplements.
If you suspect that you’re at risk for preeclampsia, manage your weight as well as conditions like diabetes even before you get pregnant.
Low amniotic fluid
Also known as oligohydramnios, the dangers of having low amniotic fluid differs with each stage of pregnancy. During the first half of pregnancy, low amniotic fluid can result in birth defects (due to compression of vital organs) as well as miscarriage or stillbirth. During the second half of pregnancy, possible complications include intrauterine growth restriction, preterm birth, cord compression, cesarean delivery.
How it happens: Birth defects affecting the kidneys or urinary tract can lead to oligohydramnios. Placental problems as well as premature rupture of membranes can also be possible causes. Other conditions that can lead to low amniotic fluid are dehydration, hypertension, preeclampsia, or diabetes. If a pregnancy goes past 42 weeks, a mom-to-be is also more at risk to develop this condition.
How it can be prevented: Treating low amniotic fluid depends on how far along a mom-to-be is in her pregnancy. Early in pregnancy, non-stress contraction tests may be done to confirm the diagnosis. Once a mom is closer to full term, labor may be induced. Other treatments are amnio-infusion, or fluid injections (via amniocentesis) or oral and IV rehydration to help increase amniotic fluid.
Premature Rupture of Membranes (PROM)
This pregnancy complication happens when a mom-to-be’s amniotic sac breaks before labor happens, usually at or beyond 37 weeks along. Those with PROM experience fluid leakage, vaginal discharge, pelvic discomfort, or vaginal bleeding without the presence of contractions.
It’s risky because it can lead to premature birth or infections like chorioamnionitis.
How it happens: Though there is no single cause for this, it has been linked to the following risk factors: smoking during pregnancy, STDs, poor nutrition, dehydration, infection (of the cervix, uterus, or vagina), or history of cervical surgery.
How it can be prevented: Your doctor will decide what to do to treat this condition and prevent further complications. Depending on its severity, it can be managed by hospitalization, monitoring for infection, medications like corticosteroids (to help lung maturity) or tocolytics (to stop preterm labor), antibiotics, or inducing delivery.