Between the swollen feet, profuse loss of bodily fluids and nightly reflux, pregnancy really can be #awesomeAF
Turns out that growing a baby is hard work. Hard, sweaty, sometimes disgusting, work.
For the most part however, the ‘added extras’ involved with a healthy pregnancy aren’t anything to worry about, medically speaking at least. Yes, it’s annoying to use two different types of deodorant or go up three bra sizes, BUT it’s not dangerous to you or your baby (only the person who happens to ask if you’re sure there aren’t twins ‘in there’).
There are some conditions however that can be dangerous or lead to further issues down the track. While worrying about the worst case scenario (and spending copious hours with Dr Google) isn’t healthy, awareness and the ability to be proactive is key to a healthy pregnancy.
Here are five weird pregnancy complications that you need to know about, if only to smugly reassure yourself that you’re actually travelling along fine.
1. Symphis Pubic Dysfunction
What is it? Otherwise known as ‘feeling like a horse has kicked you in the baby maker’, Symphis Pubis Dysfunction or SPD is a condition that causes inflammation and pain in the symphysis pubis joint, which connects the two halves of your pelvis. This is all thanks to the hormone relaxin, which is released in preparation for birth, but can make things too flexible and ‘stretchy’ in the meantime.
How do I know if I have it? SPD has some very distinct symptoms. Pain in the pubic area, groin and lower back are the most common symptoms though you also might experience:
- A grinding or clicking sensation in your pubic area.
- Pain down the inside of your thighs or between your legs. It can feel worse when parting your legs, walking, going up or down stairs or rolling over in bed.
- Worse pain at night.
What should I do if I suspect it’s got me? See a physiotherapist, stat. A physio can correctly diagnose and pull together a treatment plan to help you manage discomfort and stop the inflammation and pain getting worse. The good news? Generally SPD is manageable and doesn’t need to impact your birth plan. It also usually disappears very soon after birth, though you are more likely to suffer it again with subsequent pregnancies.
2. Placenta Accreta
What is it? Placenta accreta occurs when the placenta embeds into the uterine wall and/or uterine muscles. To put it plainly, the placenta gets a LITTLE bit overenthusiastic and connects waaaay too deeply, invading the muscle of the uterine wall in milder cases and through the entire wall of the uterus and into nearby organs in more extreme cases. This makes it very difficult for the body to expel the placenta post birth, which leads to numerous complications.
How do I know if I have it? Placenta accreta sounds terrifying, but take a deep breath because the chances are, if you have it, you’ll know about it. Ultrasound screening from 15 weeks can identify placenta accreta. Before that, certain risk factors like vaginal bleeding, a history of conditions like placenta previa, elevated protein levels in the blood and/or scarring from a previous c-section can raise red flags to your caregivers for further examination.
What should I do if I suspect I might be at risk? Speak to your caregiver ASAP. It’s possible to manage placenta accreta effectively with a correct diagnosis. The usual plan is to schedule an elective c-section at around 38 weeks. At that time, a hysterectomy to remove the placenta might also happen. It’s an intense prospect to consider and one which needs counselling and planning through your hospital and caregivers. If placenta accreta is diagnosed at birth, the method used to manage the placenta will vary, depending on the situation.
What is it? PUPPS or pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy (try saying that in one go) is the pregnancy equivalent of rolling around in a patch of highly allergenic grass and developing an itchy, uncomfortable and really bloody annoying rash. Annoyingly, experts aren’t entirely sure what causes it but they do know that it only occurs to women during their first pregnancy, and there’s a higher incidence in women carrying multiples.
How do I know if I have it? You can’t really miss it! Usually PUPPS will appear as a series of red, itchy bumps that might look like stretch marks. As the rash spreads, it becomes bumpy and starts resembling a series of welts. Tres’ attractive. You’ll usually spot it making its move on your belly first before spreading to other areas of the body. And yes, you can get it on your face. Thanks pregnancy!
What should I do if I suspect it’s got me? Unfortunately the only ‘cure’ for PUPPS is birth. During pregnancy. manage it using natural methods like hydrating body oils (coconut oil and olive oil are often recommended), collodial oatmeal products or pine or coal tar soap. In cases that are more severe, your doctor might prescribe topical corticosteroids, oral corticosteroids and oral antihistamines.
What is it? Another condition which makes you itch, but this one is a little more serious. Cholestasis is a form of liver disease that only happens during pregnancy, thanks again to those pesky pregnancy hormones, which can affect liver function.
How do I know if I have it? You’ll be itchy, really itchy, mainly on the hands and feet. You might also notice that your wee has gone very dark and that you feel generally unwell, even more so than the usual pregnancy aches and pains and exhaustion.
What should I do if I suspect it’s got me? Speak to your caregiver. A blood test that evaluates your liver function can indicate whether there’s a problem and a treatment plan can be formulated from there. With the right treatment and monitoring, cholestasis can be effectively managed so that pregnancy can progress normally.
5. Bacterial vaginosis
What is it? We couldn’t finish up without including one condition specifically of the baby maker. Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is caused by an imbalance in the normal bacteria that exist in a woman’s va jay jay. Different to thrush, BV is caused by bacteria as opposed to fungi.
How do I know if I have it? BV is a tricky one as sometimes it’s symptom-less. Generally however, you’ll notice a grey or whitish discharge which doesn’t smell great and some irritation in the form of itching or burning. Not pleasant!
What should I do if I suspect it’s got me? Your caregiver can diagnose BV easily via a swab sent off for testing. If the test comes back positive, antibiotics or antibacterial cream may be prescribed. Transmission between mama and baby isn’t a concern, but there is a link between the infection and preterm labour so it’s better to be safe than sorry!
Now that we have your weird pregnancy complications and dilemmas sorted, find out what to do when your waters break.