How is pregnancy treated?

Pregnancy is treated through prenatal care, which the mother receives from her obstetrical medical provider through regular visits during pregnancy. The goal of prenatal care includes ensuring the health of the mother and the fetus and preparing the mother for birth. You may receive prenatal care from an obstetrician-gynecologist, a certified nurse-midwife (CNM), or other licensed pregnancy health care provider. It is very important to follow through with your prenatal care as recommended by your health care provider during and after your pregnancy to best ensure your health and the health of your baby.

Prenatal care interventions

Prenatal care can include the following interventions and activities:

  • Educating the mother about what it means to have a healthy pregnancy and providing recommendations, such as vitamin supplementation, vaccination, and healthy lifestyle habits, which include proper nutrition and weight control

  • Monitoring the health and growth of the mother and the fetus through regular physical exams, ultrasounds, and other monitoring techniques

  • Performing tests and screenings for maternal and fetal diseases, disorders and conditions. These could include gestational diabetes and preeclampsia for the mother, and neural tube defects and Down syndrome for the fetus.

  • Preparing the mother for giving birth

  • Providing treatment for the mother’s pregnancy symptoms or maternal and fetal diseases, disorders and conditions, such as preterm labor

What are the possible complications of pregnancy?

In some cases, pregnancy is accompanied by complications, which vary in severity and duration. There are many types of complications that can affect the mother or fetus during pregnancy. You can best lower your risk of pregnancy complications, or delay the development of pregnancy complications, by seeking regular prenatal care and following the treatment plan you and your health care professional design specifically for you. However, despite proper medical care, you and your developing baby may be affected by adverse events during pregnancy.

Complications that can occur during pregnancy include:

  • Adverse effects of pregnancy management

  • Anemia (low red blood cell count)

  • Birth defects (including brain damage, hearing loss, and blindness)

  • Gestational diabetes (diabetes that starts during pregnancy)

  • Heart failure

  • Low birth weight

  • Miscarriage (pregnancy loss)

  • Placenta previa (abnormally low placement of the placenta, partially or completely covering the cervix)

  • Placental abruption (premature separation of the placenta from the uterine lining)

  • Preeclampsia (also called pregnancy-induced hypertension or toxemia) and eclampsia

  • Preterm labor (labor that begins before 37 weeks of pregnancy)

  • Stillbirth

What are the risk factors for pregnancy complications?

There are certain risk factors that make you more likely to have complications during pregnancy. If you have any of the following risk factors, you are considered to have a high-risk pregnancy.

Diseases that increase the risk of pregnancy complications

Both preexisting conditions and diseases and disorders that develop during pregnancy can increase the risk of complications including:

Other factors that increase the risk of pregnancy complications

Lifestyle choices and other factors that increase the risk of complications of pregnancy include:

  • Consumption of alcohol, illegal drugs, or certain prescription medications

  • Exposure to pesticides, radiation, or other toxins

  • Low socioeconomic status

  • Obesity or being underweight

  • Pregnancy before age 18 or older than age 35

  • Smoking

You can best lower your risk of complications, or delay the development of complications, by seeking regular prenatal care as recommended and following the treatment plan you and your health care professional design specifically for you.

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