Your pregnancy is going to be completely unique to you and your body. For some women, that might mean encountering some uncommon pregnancy complications. While the word “complication” might sound a little scary–and there are certainly serious complications that exist–not all of them are necessarily alarming. Your body will go through an amazing transformation during your pregnancy, so it’s not surprising that some of those changes might surprise you.
With the help of your OBGYN and Midwife, most uncommon pregnancy complications will ultimately serve as memories and mementoes of your unique pregnancy.
Some Uncommon Pregnancy Complications You May Encounter
Some of the uncommon pregnancy complications women may encounter during their term may include some of the following.
Most people are fairly familiar with morning sickness, which usually presents during the first trimester. However, in a small percentage of women, morning sickness will start earlier (in weeks 4 or 5) and persist longer–often throughout the entire pregnancy. This persistent morning sickness is known medically as hyperemesis gravidarum.
Generally, hyperemesis gravidarum is managed successfully by pregnant women with no need for intervention. However, your OBGYN or midwife may become involved when your morning sickness begins causing secondary issues. For example, if you begin losing weight or start feeling dizzy, you should immediately contact your doctor. Your OBGYN may also be able to help detect and manage other hyperemesis gravidarum related issues. You should always keep your OBGYN or Midwife apprised of your symptoms.
On a typical day, your body will produce something like one and a half quarts of saliva, most of which you end up swallowing. Some women, when they become pregnant, start producing significantly more saliva. This is known as excessive salivation (or ptyalism or sialorrhea, medically). Some women may start salivating so much that they need to start spitting on a regular basis. Other women may be able to make due with swallowing the excess saliva. Excess salivation can cause some minor discomfort, including heartburn and nausea. Your OBGYN will likely be able to help you manage any discomfort associated with excessive salivation.
Pregnancy is also commonly associated with cravings. Popular culture tends to emphasize the more unusual and outlandish cravings. Sometimes, those unusual cravings can manifest in a condition called Pica disorder. Women who have pregnancy-induced Pica will begin to crave non-food substances of little or no nutritional value. Common examples include burnt matchsticks, coffee grounds, toothpaste, or charcoal.
Eating toxic non-food items can, of course, be detrimental to your health. Managing Pica disorder, therefore, usually means talking to your OBGYN about your symptoms and ensuring that you don’t eat any non-food substances.
You’ve probably had a nosebleed before. They can happen for a wide variety of reasons, from dry air to skin irritation. When you’re pregnant, the blood vessels in your nose expand. This creates a bit more pressure on those capillaries and arteries, which can lead to more frequent nosebleeds. This can make nosebleeds when you’re pregnant a much more common occurrence. There isn’t usually anything to worry about when it comes to nosebleeds, but if you find them happening regularly, you should certainly consult with your OBGYN and keep an eye on the issue.
- Diabetes is a condition in which your body can no longer correctly process glucose. Typically, diabetes develops due to chronically high blood sugar or because of genetic factors (specifically those associated with the pancreatic production of insulin). But many women can also develop what’s called gestational diabetes. If you develop gestational diabetes, you might have problems with high blood sugar while you’re pregnant.
In most cases, your body chemistry returns to normal after your baby is delivered, but gestational diabetes can lead to longer term issues, so it’s important to monitor and discuss this possible uncommon pregnancy complication with your OBGYN. You may have to closely monitor your diet if you develop gestational diabetes. Your OBGYN will be able to help ensure that you keep your gestational diabetes under control for the duration of your pregnancy.
To a certain degree, yeast is common in the vagina, so there’s almost always at least a little yeast present. However, because the vagina is an especially well balanced organ, any yeast present is usually kept under control by various other microorganisms present. Pregnancy can throw the yeast-to-microorganism relationship out of balance. This means that during your pregnancy, you may experience more frequent yeast infections, in part because the increased estrogen in your body makes it easier for the yeast to grow. If you’ve noticed more frequent than usual yeast infections, you can talk to your OBGYN about possible treatments.
Sometimes called “the mask of pregnancy,” melasma presents as discoloration of the skin. Often, this discoloration can be focused on the face (but not exclusively). If you are noticing darker than normal splotches on your face–especially if they are somewhat symmetrical–melasma may be the source.
Typically, melasma presents no danger to your health, though you may feel self-conscious about your change in skin tone. Typically, melasma will recede several months after the birth of your baby.
Bleeding gums are certainly an uncommon pregnancy complication, but they’re usually nothing to worry about. In most cases, bleeding gums are caused by gingivitis, which is a swelling of the gums and precursor to gum disease. Women who are pregnant can develop gingivitis because of changes in their body chemistry. In most cases, regular dental cleanings will be able to prevent the gingivitis from doing any long term damage to your teeth. And if your teeth are in good health, your gingivitis should resolve itself after your pregnancy.
During pregnancy, your skin is going to shift and stretch and grow anew. As a result, it’s not unusual for some women to experience occasional itching throughout their pregnancy. Usually, this itching is temporary, and it will go away when your skin reaches a kind of equilibrium. In some cases, though, the itching can extend throughout the entirety of your pregnancy.
Thankfully, your OBGYN can help you treat the symptoms of itching, so you don’t feel compelled to scratch for your entire pregnancy. If you experience severe or uncontrollable itching, you should contact your OBGYN or Midwife immediately, as this may be a sign of a serious condition.
Uncommon Complications and Unique Bodies
These uncommon pregnancy complications are–by definition–not something that every mother-to-be should anticipate coming across. When they do occur, however, pregnancy complications are something you should discuss with your OBGYN. The vast majority of complications are relatively minor, but serious complications can have significant outcomes. Your OBGYN can help walk you through which complications need more attention and which may actually be signs of a healthy pregnancy.
But it’s helpful to know that, as your body changes, it will likely transform in ways that are unique to you. That means your pregnancy will be a journey of self discovery, and your OBGYN will be by your side to help ensure that the end result is a healthy, happy baby. Your OBGYN may also be able to offer screenings and tests for many possible pregnancy complications, allowing you to anticipate and prepare for some changes before they occur.