Health Topics

Pregnancy and reproduction

Tumors and Pregnancy
National Library of Medicine
Cancer and Pregnancy
Gestational Trophoblastic Disease
Molar Pregnancy

Tumors during pregnancy are rare, but they can happen. Tumors can be either benign or malignant. Benign tumors aren't cancer. Malignant ones are. The most common cancers in pregnancy are breast cancer, cervical cancer, lymphoma, and melanoma. Cancer itself rarely harms the baby, and some cancer treatments are safe during pregnancy. You and your health care provider will work together to find the best treatment. Your options will depend on how far along the pregnancy is, as well as the type, size, and stage of your cancer.

Another type of tumor that women can get is called a gestational trophoblastic disease (GTD). It happens when a fertilized egg doesn't become a fetus. GTD is not always easy to find. It is usually benign, but some types can be malignant. The most common type of GTD is a molar pregnancy. In its early stages, it may look like a normal pregnancy. You should see your health care provider if you have vaginal bleeding (not menstrual bleeding).

Treatment depends on the type of tumor, whether it has spread to other places, and your overall health.


Pregnancy
Pregnancy Complications
Pregnancy Complications, Neoplastic
Neoplasms
Cancers
Pregnancy and Reproduction
Tumors during pregnancy are rare, but they can happen. Tumors can be either benign or malignant. Benign tumors aren't cancer. Malignant ones are. The most common ...
Postpartum Depression
National Library of Medicine
Baby Blues
Post-pregnancy depression

Many women have the baby blues after childbirth. If you have the baby blues, you may have mood swings, feel sad, anxious or overwhelmed, have crying spells, lose your appetite, or have trouble sleeping. The baby blues most often go away within a few days or a week. The symptoms are not severe and do not need treatment.

The symptoms of postpartum depression last longer and are more severe. You may also feel hopeless and worthless, and lose interest in the baby. You may have thoughts of hurting yourself or the baby. Very rarely, new mothers develop something even more serious. They may have hallucinations or try to hurt themselves or the baby. They need to get treatment right away, often in the hospital.

Postpartum depression can begin anytime within the first year after childbirth. The cause is not known. Hormonal and physical changes after birth and the stress of caring for a new baby may play a role. Women who have had depression are at higher risk.

If you think you have postpartum depression, tell your health care provider. Medicines, including antidepressants and talk therapy can help you get well.

Dept. of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health


Depression, Postpartum
Women
Mental Health and Behavior
Pregnancy and Reproduction
Many women have the baby blues after childbirth. If you have the baby blues, you may have mood swings, feel sad, anxious or overwhelmed, have crying spells, ...
Pregnancy and Opioids
National Library of Medicine

Many women need to take medicines while they are pregnant. But not all medicines are safe during pregnancy. Many medicines carry risks for you, your baby, or both. Opioids, especially when misused, can cause problems for you and your baby while you are pregnant.

What are opioids?

Opioids, sometimes called narcotics, are a type of drug. They include strong prescription pain relievers, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, fentanyl, and tramadol. The illegal drug heroin is also an opioid.

A health care provider may give you a prescription opioid to reduce pain after you have had a major injury or surgery. You may get them if you have severe pain from health conditions like cancer. Some health care providers prescribe them for chronic pain.

Prescription opioids used for pain relief are generally safe when taken for a short time and as prescribed by your health care provider. However, opioid dependence, addiction, and overdose are still potential risks. These risks increase when these medicines are misused. Misuse means you are not taking the medicines according to your provider's instructions, you are using them to get high, or you are taking someone else's opioids.

What are the risks of taking opioids during pregnancy?

Taking opioids during pregnancy can cause problems for you and your baby. The possible risks include

  • Neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) - withdrawal symptoms (irritability, seizures, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and poor feeding) in newborns
  • Neural tube defects - birth defects of the brain, spine, or spinal cord
  • Congenital heart defects - problems with the structure of the baby's heart
  • Gastroschisis - a birth defect of the baby's abdomen, where the intestines stick outside of the body through a hole beside the belly button
  • Loss of the baby, either miscarriage (before 20 weeks of pregnancy) or stillbirth (after 20 or more weeks)
  • Preterm delivery - a birth before 37 weeks
  • Stunted growth, leading to low birthweight

Some women need to take opioid pain medicine while they are pregnant. If your health care provider suggests that you take opioids during pregnancy, you should first discuss the risks and benefits. Then if you both decide that you need to take the opioids, you should work together to try to minimize the risks. Some of the ways to do this include

  • Taking them for the shortest time possible
  • Taking the lowest dose that will help you
  • Carefully following your provider's instructions for taking the medicines
  • Contacting your provider if you have side effects
  • Going to all your follow-up appointments
If I am already taking opioids and I become pregnant, what should I do?

If you have been taking opioids and you become pregnant, contact your health care provider. You should not stop taking the opioids on your own. If you suddenly stop taking opioids, it could cause severe health problems for you or your baby. In some cases, stopping suddenly during pregnancy may be more harmful than taking the medicines.

Can I breastfeed while taking opioids?

Many women who regularly take opioid medicines can breastfeed. It depends on which medicine you are taking. Check with your health care provider before breastfeeding.

There are some women who should not breastfeed, such as those who have HIV or take illegal drugs.

What are the treatments for opioid use disorders in pregnancy?

If you are pregnant and have an opioid use disorder, do not stop taking opioids suddenly. Instead, see your health care provider so you can get help. The treatment for opioid use disorder is medication-assisted therapy (MAT). MAT includes medicine and counseling:

  • Medicine can reduce your cravings and withdrawal symptoms. For pregnant women, health care providers use either buprenorphine or methadone.
  • Counseling, including behavioral therapies, which can help you
    • Change your attitudes and behaviors related to drug use
    • Build healthy life skills
    • Continue taking your medicine and getting prenatal care

Pregnancy
Opioid-Related Disorders
Substance Abuse Problems
Pregnancy and Reproduction
Female Reproductive System
Many women need to take medicines while they are pregnant. But not all medicines are safe during pregnancy. Many medicines carry risks for you, your baby, ...
Teenage Pregnancy
National Library of Medicine
Adolescent Pregnancy
Pregnancy, Teen

Most teenage girls don't plan to get pregnant, but many do. Teen pregnancies carry extra health risks to both the mother and the baby. Often, teens don't get prenatal care soon enough, which can lead to problems later on. They have a higher risk for pregnancy-related high blood pressure and its complications. Risks for the baby include premature birth and a low birth weight.

If you're a pregnant teen, you can help yourself and your baby by

  • Getting regular prenatal care
  • Taking your prenatal vitamins for your health and to prevent some birth defects
  • Avoiding smoking, alcohol, and drugs
  • Using a condom, if you are having sex, to prevent sexually transmitted diseases that could hurt your baby

Pregnancy in Adolescence
Children and Teenagers
Women
Pregnancy and Reproduction
Female Reproductive System
Most teenage girls don't plan to get pregnant, but many do. Teen pregnancies carry extra health risks to both the mother and the baby. Often, teens don't ...
Health Problems in Pregnancy
National Library of Medicine
High Risk Pregnancy
Pregnancy and Health Problems
Pregnancy, High-Risk

Every pregnancy has some risk of problems. You may have problems because of a health condition you had before you got pregnant. You could also develop a condition during pregnancy. Other causes of problems during pregnancy can include being pregnant with more than one baby, a health problem in a previous pregnancy, substance abuse during pregnancy, or being over age 35. Any of these can affect your health, the health of your baby, or both.

If you have a chronic condition, you should talk to your health care provider about how to minimize your risk before you get pregnant. Once you are pregnant, you may need a health care team to monitor your pregnancy. Some common conditions that can complicate a pregnancy include

  • High blood pressure
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Kidney problems
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Obesity
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Cancer
  • Infections

Other conditions that can make pregnancy risky can happen while you are pregnant - for example, gestational diabetes and Rh incompatibility. Good prenatal care can help detect and treat them.

Some discomforts, like nausea, back pain, and fatigue, are common during pregnancy. Sometimes it is hard to know what is normal. Call your health care provider if something is bothering or worrying you.


Pregnancy, High-Risk
Pregnancy Complications
Pregnancy and Reproduction
Female Reproductive System
Every pregnancy has some risk of problems. You may have problems because of a health condition you had before you got pregnant. You could also develop a condition ...
Pregnancy and Medicines
National Library of Medicine
Medicines and Pregnancy

Not all medicines are safe to take when you are pregnant. Some medicines can harm your baby. That includes over-the-counter or prescription drugs, herbs, and supplements.

Always speak with your health care provider before you start or stop any medicine. Not using medicine that you need may be more harmful to you and your baby than using the medicine. For example, many pregnant women take prescription medicines for health problems like diabetes, asthma, seizures, and heartburn. The decision about whether or not to take a medicine depends on the risks and benefits. You and your health care provider should make this choice together.

Pregnant women should not take regular vitamins. They may have too much or too little of the vitamins that you need. There are special vitamins for pregnant women. It is important to take 0.4 mg of folic acid every day before you become pregnant through the first part of your pregnancy. Folic acid helps to prevent birth defects of the baby's brain or spine.

Food and Drug Administration


Abnormalities, Drug-Induced
Pregnancy and Reproduction
Genetics/Birth Defects
Not all medicines are safe to take when you are pregnant. Some medicines can harm your baby. That includes over-the-counter or prescription drugs, herbs, ...
Pregnancy
National Library of Medicine

You're going to have a baby! It's an exciting time, but it can also feel a bit overwhelming. You may have a lot of questions, including what you can do to give your baby a healthy start. To keep you and your baby healthy during pregnancy, it is important to

  • Have regular visits with your health care provider. These prenatal care visits help make sure that you and your baby are healthy. And if there are any health problems, your provider can find them early. Getting treatment right away can cure many problems and prevent others.
  • Eat healthy and drink plenty of water. Good nutrition during pregnancy includes eating a variety of
    • Fruits
    • Vegetables
    • Whole grains
    • Lean meats or other protein sources
    • Low-fat dairy products
  • Take prenatal vitamins. Pregnant women need higher amounts of certain vitamins and minerals, such as folic acid and iron.
  • Be careful with medicines. Always check with your health care provider before you start or stop any medicine. This includes over-the-counter medicines and dietary or herbal supplements.
  • Stay active. Physical activity can help you stay strong, feel and sleep better, and prepare your body for birth. Check with your provider about which types of activities are right for you.
  • Avoid substances that could hurt your baby, such as alcohol, drugs, and tobacco.

Your body will keep changing as your baby grows. It can be hard to know whether a new symptom is normal or could be a sign of a problem. Check with your health care provider if something is bothering or worrying you.


Pregnancy
Women
Pregnancy and Reproduction
Female Reproductive System
You're going to have a baby! It's an exciting time, but it can also feel a bit overwhelming. You may have a lot of questions, including what you can do to ...
Ectopic Pregnancy
National Library of Medicine
Abdominal Pregnancy
Cervical Pregnancy
Tubal Pregnancy

The uterus, or womb, is the place where a baby grows when a woman is pregnant. If you have an ectopic pregnancy, the fertilized egg grows in the wrong place, outside the uterus, usually in the fallopian tubes. The result is usually a miscarriage.

Ectopic pregnancy can be a medical emergency if it ruptures. Signs of ectopic pregnancy include

  • Abdominal pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Feeling dizzy or faint

Get medical care right away if you have these signs. Doctors use drugs or surgery to remove the ectopic tissue so it doesn't damage your organs. Many women who have had ectopic pregnancies go on to have healthy pregnancies later.

Dept. of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health


Pregnancy, Ectopic
Women
Pregnancy and Reproduction
Female Reproductive System
The uterus, or womb, is the place where a baby grows when a woman is pregnant. If you have an ectopic pregnancy, the fertilized egg grows in the wrong place, ...
High Blood Pressure in Pregnancy
National Library of Medicine
Gestational Hypertension
Preeclampsia
Toxemia
What is high blood pressure in pregnancy?

Blood pressure is the force of your blood pushing against the walls of your arteries as your heart pumps blood. High blood pressure, or hypertension, is when this force against your artery walls is too high. There are different types of high blood pressure in pregnancy:

  • Gestational hypertension is high blood pressure that you develop while you are pregnant. It starts after you are 20 weeks pregnant. You usually don't have any other symptoms. In many cases, it does not harm you or your baby, and it goes away within 12 weeks after childbirth. But it does raise your risk of high blood pressure in the future. It sometimes can be severe, which may lead to low birth weight or preterm birth. Some women with gestational hypertension do go on to develop preeclampsia.
  • Chronic hypertension is high blood pressure that started before the 20th week of pregnancy or before you became pregnant. Some women may have had it long before becoming pregnant, but didn't know it until they got their blood pressure checked at their prenatal visit. Sometimes chronic hypertension can also lead to preeclampsia.
  • Preeclampsia is a sudden increase in blood pressure after the 20th week of pregnancy. It usually happens in the last trimester. In rare cases, symptoms may not start until after delivery. This is called postpartum preeclampsia. Preeclampsia also includes signs of damage to some of your organs, such as your liver or kidney. The signs may include protein in the urine and very high blood pressure. Preeclampsia can be serious or even life-threatening for both you and your baby.
What causes preeclampsia?

The cause of preeclampsia is not known.

Who is at risk for preeclampsia?

You are at higher risk of preeclampsia if you

  • Had chronic high blood pressure or chronic kidney disease before pregnancy
  • Had high blood pressure or preeclampsia in a previous pregnancy
  • Have obesity
  • Are over age 40
  • Are pregnant with more than one baby
  • Are African American
  • Have a family history of preeclampsia
  • Have certain health conditions, such as diabetes, lupus, or thrombophilia (a disorder which raises your risk of blood clots)
  • Used in vitro fertilization, egg donation, or donor insemination
What problems can preeclampsia cause?

Preeclampsia can cause

  • Placental abruption, where the placenta separates from the uterus
  • Poor fetal growth, caused by a lack of nutrients and oxygen
  • Preterm birth
  • A low birth weight baby
  • Stillbirth
  • Damage to your kidneys, liver, brain, and other organ and blood systems
  • A higher risk of heart disease for you
  • Eclampsia, which happens when preeclampsia is severe enough to affect brain function, causing seizures or coma
  • HELLP syndrome, which happens when a woman with preeclampsia or eclampsia has damage to the liver and blood cells. It is rare, but very serious.
What are the symptoms of preeclampsia?

Possible symptoms of preeclampsia include

  • High blood pressure
  • Too much protein in your urine (called proteinuria)
  • Swelling in your face and hands. Your feet may also swell, but many women have swollen feet during pregnancy. So swollen feet by themselves may not be a sign of a problem.
  • Headache that does not go away
  • Vision problems, including blurred vision or seeing spots
  • Pain in your upper right abdomen
  • Trouble breathing
  • Eclampsia can also cause seizures, nausea and/or vomiting, and low urine output. If you go on to develop HELLP syndrome, you may also have bleeding or bruising easily, extreme fatigue, and liver failure.

    How is preeclampsia diagnosed?

    Your health care provider will check your blood pressure and urine at each prenatal visit. If your blood pressure reading is high (140/90 or higher), especially after the 20th week of pregnancy, your provider will likely want to run some tests. They may include blood tests other lab tests to look for extra protein in the urine as well as other symptoms.

    How is preeclampsia treated?

    Delivering the baby can often cure preeclampsia. When making a decision about treatment, your provider take into account several factors. They include how severe it is, how many weeks pregnant you are, and what the potential risks to you and your baby are:

    • If you are more than 37 weeks pregnant, your provider will likely want to deliver the baby.
    • If you are less than 37 weeks pregnant, your health care provider will closely monitor you and your baby. This includes blood and urine tests for you. Monitoring for the baby often involves ultrasound, heart rate monitoring, and checking on the baby's growth. You may need to take medicines, to control your blood pressure and to prevent seizures. Some women also get steroid injections, to help the baby's lungs mature faster. If the preeclampsia is severe, you provider may want you to deliver the baby early.

    The symptoms usually go away within 6 weeks of delivery. In rare cases, symptoms may not go away, or they may not start until after delivery (postpartum preeclampsia). This can be very serious, and it needs to be treated right away.


Hypertension, Pregnancy-Induced
Pregnancy and Reproduction
Female Reproductive System
What is high blood pressure in pregnancy? Blood pressure is the force of your blood pushing against the walls of your arteries as your heart pumps blood. ...
Infections and Pregnancy
National Library of Medicine
Pregnancy, Infections in

During pregnancy, some common infections like the common cold or a skin infection do not usually cause serious problems. But other infections can be dangerous to you, your baby, or both. Some infections may lead to preterm birth and low birth weight babies. Others can cause serious illness, birth defects, and lifelong disabilities, such as hearing loss or learning problems.

Some of the infections that can be dangerous during pregnancy include

  • Bacterial vaginosis (BV)
  • Group B strep (GBS)
  • Hepatitis
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Toxoplasmosis
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Yeast infections
  • Zika virus

To try to prevent infections,

  • Don't eat raw or undercooked meat
  • Don't share food or drinks with other people
  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Don't empty cat litter. Cats can transmit toxoplasmosis.

If you do get an infection during pregnancy, contact your health care provider about how best to protect you and your baby. Only some medicines are safe during pregnancy.


Pregnancy Complications, Infectious
Infections
Pregnancy and Reproduction
Female Reproductive System
During pregnancy, some common infections like the common cold or a skin infection do not usually cause serious problems. But other infections can be dangerous ...