Conception - Complications
If at any stage you are feeling overwhelmed, or that you may be suffering from depression, anxiety, or thoughts of harming yourself or your baby contact your healthcare professional and seek help immediately.
Health problems before pregnancy
Before you conceive, ensure you speak with your doctor about health problems you have now or have had in the past. If your pregnancy is unplanned it is important to discuss any existing health problems immediately. If you are receiving treatment for a health problem, your doctor may wish to change the way your health problem is managed. Some medicines used to treat health problems could be harmful if taken during pregnancy. Alternatively, stopping any medication could be more harmful than the risks posed should you become pregnant. Rest assured that you are likely to have a normal, healthy baby when health problems are under control and you receive good prenatal care.
Asthma that is poorly managed may increase the risk of preterm birth, cesarean birth, preeclampsia or poor weight gain in the fetus.
Depression which persists during pregnancy can impact a woman’s desire and ability to take care of herself and her unborn baby. It is also a risk factor for postpartum depression. Read more about depression, symptoms and how to get help here.
High blood glucose (sugar) levels during pregnancy can harm the fetus and worsen a woman’s long-term diabetes complications. It is advised to get diabetes under control at least three to six months prior to trying to conceive.
Existing eating disorders can be exacerbated during pregnancy as a woman’s body image changes. Eating disorders are linked to a myriad of pregnancy complications including birth defects, premature birth and postpartum depression.
Epilepsy and other seizure disorders
Seizures during pregnancy can harm the unborn baby, and increase the risk of a miscarriage or stillbirth, however using seizure medications may cause birth defects. For most pregnant women with epilepsy using medicines is potentially less harmful to the health of themselves and their baby than stopping medication, however you should speak to your GP prior to making any changes to your treatments.
High blood pressure
Women with high blood pressure have increased risk or preeclampsia and placental abruption, as well as a higher chance of premature birth and a baby with a low birth weight. HIV Women who have HIV and wish to have a baby should speak with their GP’s prior to trying to conceive. HIV can be passed from the mother to her baby during pregnancy or delivery, however this risk is dramatically reduced (to less than 2%) if certain HIV medications are taken during pregnancy.
Many migraine symptoms improve during pregnancy, and some women experience no attacks during gestation. Certain medications should be avoided during pregnancy so it is important to discuss safe pain relief options with your GP.
Overweight or obesity
The risk of pregnancy complications has been found to be directly proportionate to the weight of a pregnant woman. For those overweight or obese the risk of preeclampsia and preterm delivery among other health issues is increased. Losing weight in a healthy way prior to conception can lead to a healthier mum and bub.
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
Some STIs can cause early labour, a woman's water to break too early, and infection in the uterus after birth. Some STIs may also be passed from a woman to her baby during pregnancy or delivery. Impacts of STIs on the baby can include: low birth weight, serious infections, brain damage, blindness, deafness, liver problems, or stillbirth.
An overactive thyroid (uncontrolled hyperthyroidism) can be dangerous to the mother and cause health problems and birth defects. It is important to discuss this with your doctor prior to conceiving.
If you have reason to suspect that you may be at risk of having a serious condition affecting your fertility, and in turns chances of conception, the best course of action to take is to consult your GP.