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 Complications, Neoplastic
Pregnancy Complications
Neoplasms
Pregnancy
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, ...
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, drug use 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 unknown.

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.

What are the treatments for preeclampsia?

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. ...
Pregnancy and Nutrition
National Library of Medicine
Nutrition and Pregnancy
What is nutrition, and why is it important during pregnancy?

Nutrition is about eating a healthy and balanced diet so your body gets the nutrients that it needs. Nutrients are substances in foods that our bodies need so they can function and grow. They include carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and water.

When you're pregnant, nutrition is more important than ever. You need more of many important nutrients than you did before pregnancy. Making healthy food choices every day will help you give your baby what he or she needs to develop. It will also help make sure that you and your baby gain the proper amount of weight.

Do I have any special nutrition needs now that I am pregnant?

You need more folic acid, iron, calcium, and vitamin D than you did before pregnancy:

  • Folic acid is a B vitamin that may help prevent certain birth defects. Before pregnancy, you need 400 mcg (micrograms) per day. During pregnancy and when breastfeeding, you need 600 mcg per day from foods or vitamins. It is hard to get this amount from foods alone, so you need to take a supplement that contains folic acid.
  • Iron is important for your baby's growth and brain development. During pregnancy, the amount of blood in your body increases, so you need more iron for yourself and your growing baby. You should get 27 mg (milligrams) of iron a day.
  • Calcium during pregnancy can reduce your risk of preeclampsia, a serious medical condition that causes a sudden increase in blood pressure. Calcium also builds up your baby's bones and teeth. Pregnant adults should get 1,000 mg (milligrams) of calcium a day.
  • Vitamin D helps the calcium to build up the baby's bones and teeth. All women, pregnant or not, should be getting 600 IU (international units) of vitamin D per day.

Keep in mind that taking too much of a supplement can be harmful. For example, very high levels of vitamin A can cause birth defects. Only take vitamins and mineral supplements that your health care provider recommends.

You also need more protein when you are pregnant. Healthy sources of protein include beans, peas, eggs, lean meats, seafood, and unsalted nuts and seeds.

Hydration is another special nutritional concern during pregnancy. When you are pregnant, your body needs even more water to stay hydrated and support the life inside you. So it's important to drink enough fluids every day.

How much weight should I gain during my pregnancy?

How much weight you should gain depends on your health and how much you weighed before pregnancy:

  • If you were at a normal weight before pregnancy, you should gain about 25 to 30 pounds
  • If you were underweight before pregnancy, you should gain more
  • If you were overweight or had obesity before you become pregnant, you should gain less

Check with your health care provider to find out how much weight gain during pregnancy is healthy for you. You should gain the weight gradually during your pregnancy, with most of the weight gained in the last trimester.

Do I need to eat more calories when I am pregnant?

How many calories you need depends on your weight gain goals. Your health care provider can tell you what your goal should be, based on things like your weight before pregnancy, your age, and how fast you gain weight. The general recommendations are

  • In the first 3 months of pregnancy, you probably do not need extra calories
  • During the last 6 months of pregnancy, you usually need 300 calories a day more than you did before you were pregnant
  • During the final weeks of pregnancy, you may not need extra calories

Keep in mind that not all calories are equal. You should eat healthy foods that are packed with nutrients - not "empty calories" such as those found in soft drinks, candies, and desserts.

What foods should I avoid during pregnancy?

During pregnancy, you should avoid

  • Alcohol. There is no known amount of alcohol that is safe for a woman to drink during pregnancy.
  • Fish that may have high levels of mercury. Limit white (albacore) tuna to 6 ounces per week. Do not eat tilefish, shark, swordfish, or king mackerel.
  • Foods that are more likely to contain germs that could cause foodborne illness, including
    • Refrigerated smoked seafood like whitefish, salmon, and mackerel
    • Hot dogs or deli meats unless steaming hot
    • Refrigerated meat spreads
    • Unpasteurized milk or juices
    • Store-made salads, such as chicken, egg, or tuna salad
    • Unpasteurized soft cheeses, such as unpasteurized feta, Brie, queso blanco, queso fresco, and blue cheeses
    • Raw sprouts of any kind (including alfalfa, clover, radish, and mung bean)
  • Too much caffeine. Drinking high amounts of caffeine may be harmful for your baby. Small or moderate amounts of caffeine (less than 200 mg (milligrams) per day) appear to be safe during pregnancy. This is the amount in about 12 ounces of coffee. But more research is needed. Check with your health care provider about whether drinking a limited amount of caffeine is okay for you.

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


Maternal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
Pregnancy and Reproduction
Food and Nutrition
What is nutrition, and why is it important during pregnancy? Nutrition is about eating a healthy and balanced diet so your body gets the nutrients that ...
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 ...