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Our resident GP Dr Nicola Harrison explains possible complications during pregnancy

Bleeding

There are multiple causes of bleeding pregnancy. Some causes are not related to the pregnancy at all, but come from the vagina or cervix. Bleeding in pregnancy can often signify issues with the placenta and therefore should never be taken lightly – you should always consult your GP or midwife.

Pre-sclampsia

This is a disease completely unique to pregnancy, therefore once you have your baby, pre-eclampsia resolves. The cause is uncertain but it is thought that something in the placenta triggers release of chemicals that cause the mother’s blood pressure to rise and makes the kidneys become leaky so protein starts to show in the urine. Warning symptoms include severe headache, flashing lights or blurred vision, burning pain below the breast bone, vomiting and sudden swelling of the face, hands or ankles. You will need to be admitted to hospital for treatment which can include blood pressure lowering medications and discussions about having the baby early, so as to prevent progression into Eclampsia which is fitting/having a seizure due to very high maternal blood pressure. Rest assured, midwives and GPs are constantly on the alert for this and it explains why you need to have your blood pressure and urine checked at every antenatal appointment.

Gestational diabetes

This simply means the development of diabetes in pregnancy. If sugar is seen in the routine urine checks, then you will be referred for a glucose tolerance test where you are given a sugar-challenge (usually of Lucozade) and then your blood is tested at hourly intervals afterwards to see how your body deals with the sugar. You are more likely to develop gestational diabetes if you are obese or if you have a family origin with high diabetic frequency e.g.  South Asian, black Caribbean or Middle Eastern. You will be cared for by an obstetrician who specializes in diabetes and you will need to adopt of low sugar diet. Often you need to start diabetic medication and occasionally women need to inject insulin if it is severe.

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