11 Common Pregnancy Problems

common pregnancy problemsThere are many common pregnancy problems. This article looks at 11 common pregnancy problems you might want to know about.

Common Pregnancy Problems

Diabetes in pregnancy

Diabetes that occurs during pregnancy is called gestational diabetes and is generally temporary in nature. Gestational diabetes is the condition where the body doesn’t produce enough insulin to counter sugar insurgence. If you have sugar in your urine (determined by a urin test), frequent urination, nausea, blurry vision or fatigue you may have gestational diabetes.

2% to 5% of pregnant women will have gestational diabetes at some time in the pregnancy. If you are at risk for diabetes (have diabetes in your family), your chances may increase to 7% – 9% (American Pregnancy Association, 2011).

Generally, you will be tested for the disorder in the 24th to the 28th week of your pregnancy. Between these weeks, your placenta will secrete large amounts of hormones that might lead to insulin resistance.

You can treat gestational diabetes by regulating sugar levels in the blood. Closely monitor you and your baby’s glucose levels. Watch out for any changes in your body as well as other common pregnancy problems. Report these to your doctor. Eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly.

Before you try any alternative treatment for common pregnancy problems, inform your doctor. These may conflict with medications you are currently taking.

Alpha lipoic acid is an antioxidant that helps regulate blood glucose levels. 400 mcg of Chromium picolinate daily helps boost insulin efficacy. Garlic helps improve circulation and lowers glucose levels in the blood and cinnamon improves insulin sensitivity.

Indigestion and Heartburn

Increased hormonal levels and pressure of the baby’s body may cause indigestion and heartburn. Hormones secreted during pregnancy relax the muscles in the digestive tract. As a result, foods tend to move slowly down the tract. Also, the valve separating the esophagus and the stomach becomes looser. It becomes easier for food to go back up the esophagus from the stomach. The food in the esophagus causes the feeling of heartburn.

Your womb pushes more on the stomach as your baby gets bigger. Expect increased indigestion and heartburn further along the pregnancy.

A tablespoon of apple cider vinegar can relieve indigestion and heartburn. Walking for at least 30 minutes a day can help with digestion. Fresh pineapple and papaya contain digestive enzymes and can help with indigestion. Fennel, anise seeds fresh parsley and peppermint can relieve bloating and indigestion.

Low Lying Placenta Praevia

If your placenta lies low that it partially or fully covers your cervix then you have Placenta Previa. If the placenta lies so low from the uterus, it might break apart from the uterine wall as the cervix dilates during labor.

Around 1 in 200 expectant mothers are affected by Placenta Previa (American Pregnancy Association, 2011). This usually manifests in the third trimester of pregnancy.

A low placenta generally doesn’t pose any serious threat on its own. But if you prefer to have a natural childbirth, you should have this problem resolved.

Your doctor may advise you to have complete bed rest and keep your movements restricted. Stand up only to go to the toilet and to eat. A healthy diet and lots of rest allows the baby to develop well and to push the placenta away from the cervix on his own. Acupuncture may help move the placenta away form the aperture of the uterus.


Preeclampsia is a high blood pressure during pregnancy. You’ll have protein in your urine and you’ll retain water in your body when you have preeclampsia. It is also referred to as pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH) or toxemia. You are more likely to develop preeclampsia if you have relatives who had it, if you carry multiple babies, if you are a teenage mother, if you have high blood pressure, if you have kidney disease and if you are an older first-time mother.

Preeclampsia can block adequate blood supply to the placenta. Without enough blood circulation, your baby won’t get enough oxygen and nutrition. As a result, your baby may be born underweight.

The excess water you accumulate with preeclampsia can be reduced by taking in Vitamin B6 and matching it with a healthy diet. Vitamin B6 can also stop preeclampsia from developing so long as you take it in the early stage of the disorder.

Evening primrose contains gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), an essential fatty acid that prevents the onset of preeclampsia.

Daily magnesium intake can help lower your blood pressure.

Preeclampsia is more common in women with low zinc levels. Adequate zinc levels are important throughout pregnancy. A simple zinc-taste test can tell if you’re sin deficient. You can get it in pharmacies.

Anemia during pregnancy

Anemia is caused by low red blood cell count. Red blood cells contain hemoglobin which carries oxygen. Symptoms of anemia are weakness and frequent fatigue. A simple blood test will measure you Complete Blood Count (CBC), your hemoglobin levels, red and white blood cell counts and your platelet condition.

Normal levels of hemoglobin for most newborns should be 15 grams and higher. Any lower and your baby will need blood transfusion. So it’s important that you keep your iron levels checked throughout the pregnancy.

Folic acid is required for red blood cell production and aids protein metabolism. If an expectant mother is deficient in folic acid, her baby is at a higher risk of developing anemia, being underweight, and developing neural tube defects. 300 to 800 mcg is the recommended daily dosage of folic acid and should be taken prior to conception.

Stomach cramps in pregnancy

Light cramps are common pregnancy problems in women especially in the early stages of pregnancy. The cramps you feel can be similar to your menstrual cramps but only lighter. You can feel them on either side of the abdomen or in the lower abdomen.

The cramps may be the result of the changes happening in the uterus as the embryo starts to grow.

Some of the cramps may be caused by corpus luteum cysts. These are small cysts that may form on the ovary during ovulation. These cysts may cause discomfort in pregnant women early in the pregnancy.

Mineral supplements, especially Calcium and Magnesium, may help lower high acid levels in the stomach. These possess alkaline properties that relax the stomach muscles and relieve abdominal cramps. Acidophilus and Bifidus, a mixture of good bacteria, may aid in food digestion. Organic yogurt is one good example. Teas made from peppermint, slippery elm, fennel and chamomile may ease stomach irritations.

Rhesus negative blood type in pregnancy

Rhesus (Rh) factor is a protein you can find on the exterior of red blood cells. If you have the Rh antigen in your blood, you are Rh positive. If you don’t, you are Rh negative.

Even if the mother is Rh-negative, the baby can still be Rh-positive if the baby inherits the Rh factor from an Rh-positive father. Problems may arise when the baby has the Rh factor while the mother does not.

If a mother is Rh-negative, she may produce antibodies against an Rh-positive fetus. The antibodies can only be developed after the fetus’ blood mixes with the mother’s blood. The mother can become “sensitized” to the Rh antigens in the fetus’ blood and will react as if it were allergic to the fetus in the womb. Once sensitized, the antibodies of the mother can attack the baby’s blood. This can cause hemolytic anemia in the baby and may even kill the fetus. The antibodies will remain in the mother and may attack another Rh positive baby in the future.

You will need Rh(o) immune globulin (aka RhoGam or RhIG) injections around the 28th week of your pregnancy. If your baby is Rh-positive, you will have to be given the shot again after childbirth. The shot has antibodies that will kill the fetal blood cells that mix with the mother’s blood even before the mother’s blood recognizes the fetal blood. This keeps the Rh- negative mother from developing antibodies against her Rh-positive baby.

Bleeding in Pregnancy

Bleeding during the first trimester is another one of the common pregnancy problems and doesn’t typically pose a threat. Vaginal bleeding can be serious if it occurs in the second or third trimester of the pregnancy.

20% to 30% of women experience vaginal bleeding in the early stages of pregnancy. Only 50% of the pregnant women who’ve had vaginal bleeding had a miscarriage (American Pregnancy Association, 2011).

Bleeding during the first trimester may be caused by implantation bleeding, pelvic cavity infection or urinary tract infection.

The cervix can be very tender and sensitive during pregnancy. Sometimes, bleeding can occur after intercourse. If this is your case, discontinue intercourse until you have visited your doctor. Generally, intercourse does not result in miscarriage.

Bleeding during the second or third trimester may be caused by an inflamed cervix or growths on the cervix. Vaginal bleeding occurring this late in the pregnancy may be fatal to both the mother and the baby. Consult your doctor immediately on any of the common pregnancy problems.

Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish such as sardines and salmon to help avoid common pregnancy problems. Steer clear of eating food rich in saturated fat such as chicken, beef and cheese.

Intake of foods rich in Iron may reduce excessive bleeding. Iron may also improve your immune system and may reduce your chances of having iron-deficit anemia. ½ cup of brewer’s yeast daily may help reduce excessive bleeding. Floradix iron tonic can also assist.

Increased levels of prostaglandin-2 may trigger pain and increase irritation. The prostaglandin synthetase17 and cyclooxygenase-2 18 enzymes in ginger may regulate the ratio of prostaglandin-2 in the mother’s body.

Thrush in pregnancy

Yeast infections are common pregnancy problems. You may notice thin, white and odd smelling vaginal discharge during your second trimester. This is normal. The hormonal surges during pregnancy upset the normal acidity of the vagina causing the yeast to overgrow.

If the yeast infection is left untreated, it can be passed to the baby’s mouth during childbirth.

You can prevent yeast infections by wearing loose, comfortable clothes and underwear made from cotton. Wash your genital area regularly and dry it properly. Wipe the area from front to back after using the toilet. Change out of wet clothes as soon as you can. Avoid using feminine sprays, sanitary napkins, toilet paper and tampons that have deodorizers or are perfumed. Include yogurt in your diet. Yogurt contains “lactobacillus acidophilus” that may inhibit yeast growth. Avoid taking too much sugar as sugar encourages yeast growth.

Breathlessness in pregnancy

Shortness in breathing may start early in the pregnancy. Your body needs more oxygen and your body copes by causing the lungs to breathe in more air.

Increased levels of progesterone stimulate the respiratory center in the brain. Your breathing rate may not change drastically but the air volume you take in may have increased significantly.

During the later part of the pregnancy, the uterus may put more pressure on your diaphragm. As a result, your breathing will be more labored.

You may notice an improvement in the last few weeks of your pregnancy. The baby may be dropping to the pelvis releasing the pressure on your diaphragm.

To help you breathe easier, try sitting up straight with your shoulders back. This gives your lungs more room to expand. Prop yourself with pillows to help you breathe at night.

After childbirth, your breathing should be back to normal.

Leg cramps in pregnancy

You may have increased muscle spasms in your legs during pregnancy. These common pregnancy problems occur mostly at night and may be due to the change in how your body absorbs calcium.

Leg cramps may also be due to the extra weight you carry during pregnancy and due to changes in your blood circulation. The nerves and vessels in your legs may experience too much pressure worsening the cramps.

You can relieve your leg cramps by giving your legs a gentle stretch. Exercise regularly to help combat common pregnancy problems. Ingest foods rich in calcium and magnesium. Take calcium and magnesium supplements to meet your growing needs. When you rest, elevate your legs to help blood circulation. Massage your feet and apply local heat when in pain.

You should pay attention to signs and symptoms of common pregnancy problems. The earlier the problem is discovered the easier it is to resolve.

Are you pregnant? Have you been experiencing any of the symptoms and complications of common pregnancy problems mentioned in the article? Would love to hear from you!


  1. American Pregnancy Association.2011.23 February 2011 <http://www.americanpregnancy.org >
  2. BabyCenter.2011.BabyCenter 2011.22 February 2011<http://www.babycenter.com >
  3. Farmer’s Almanac.2011.Almanac Publishing Co. 23 February 2011<http://www.farmersalmanac.com >
  4. Homemade Medicine.2009.Home Remedies for Diabetes. 23 February 2011<http://www.homemademedicine.com/home-remedies-diabetes.html>
  5. Womenshealth.gov.2010.Office on Women’s Health – US Department of Health and Human Services. 23 February 2011 <http://www.womenshealth.gov>
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About the Author: Iva Keene MRMed. ND. - Natural Fertility Specialist

Iva Keene is co-founder, creator and award-winning author of the NFP Program and director of Natural-Fertility-Prescription.com. She holds a Bachelor Degree in Health Science in Naturopathy and a Master Degree in Reproductive Medicine. She has been a qualified and internationally accredited Naturopathic Physician for over 15 years. Since founding NFP in 2008, Iva’s articles, videos, guides, and reports have reached over 1.3 million people. Iva has dedicated her professional life to supporting couples on their path to parenthood with scientifically grounded information, protocols, and coaching around preconception care, natural infertility treatments, and integrative reproductive health.


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