Your first pregnancy is going to be a scary ride. It does not matter if it’s a planned one or a pleasant surprise, the first time you go through the 9 months of childbearing will indeed be difficult. You will require a lot of preparation, physically and mentally. But that should not overwhelm you. Your body has been preparing for this since you hit puberty!
It is advisable to gain some necessary information before you start trying to conceive. Talking to your doctor and reading up on various issues involving your first pregnancy will make this journey a lot smoother. We are here to help you with that.
In this article, we shall be focusing on the diseases and various health issues that have a higher risk of afflicting you during your first pregnancy. Their risk then gradually decreases with the number of pregnancies you acquire. We shall try to equip you with the essential, easy to understand, information on fighting with these conditions.
Pre-eclampsia in first pregnancy
The first disease that we would like you to know about is pre-eclampsia. In simple terms, it means that your blood pressure has risen to a value that has starting damaging your internal organs. Your kidneys start passing out important proteins in the urine. Your vision becomes blurry. You start developing body swellings that hamper your functionality. Your liver starts getting inflamed. This damage to your internal organs causes problems for you as well as your baby.
Pre-eclampsia is not only dangerous to your organs, but it also is a predecessor to a much harmful situation called Eclampsia. In eclampsia, the mother develops fits whose only treatment is the delivery of the baby.
The following people are at a higher risk:
- Women in their first pregnancy
- Teenage women
- Females older than 40
- Women having sisters or mothers with the same issues
- Women having diabetes or high blood pressure issues before pregnancy
Since prevention is better than cure, we advise you to get baseline testing of your liver and kidney functions as well as sugar and blood pressure levels. It would be best to get them before conception but you must visit your OB/GYN as soon as you find out about your pregnancy.
If you have developed any of the above-mentioned symptoms, report to the outpatient department and make sure that your blood pressure medication is adjusted accordingly. When you are discharged, make sure that you are clear on how to manage the symptoms at home and when to report back to the doctor.
Urinary tract infections in first pregnancy
For women who are going to become mothers for the first time, urinary tract infections are a very common nuisance. The smooth muscle in your vulva and vagina becomes relaxed as a response to pregnancy hormones which makes it easier for the infectious bacteria to crawl up and become an inhabitant in your urethra.
The following mothers are at a higher risk:
- Women becoming pregnant very early after the initiation of a sexual relationship
- Women having multiple sexual partners
- Women taking antibiotics or immunosuppressive medications
These urinary tract infections are generally easy to ward off in non-pregnant women. But in women having their first baby, these can lead to kidney damage and early rupture of the baby’s sac. That is why it is important to report to your doctor if there is any kind of burning or pain while urinating and/or foul-smelling or odd-colored discharge from your urethral area.
The doctor will then start you on proper antibiotics to help fight these infections before they can do more harm.
Gestational Diabetes in first pregnancy
This term implies the kind of diabetes that affects you only during pregnancy. It appears while you are bearing a child and luckily, goes away with childbirth. But during this span of time, it can cause a lot of unwanted and sometimes irreversible damage. Gestational diabetes means that your pancreas is not able to produce enough insulin now to manage your blood sugar levels.
Women having their first baby, especially older than 40 and having a family history of such a condition are more at risk. This disease can lead to an overly-enlarged baby, which in turn will pose difficulties during delivery. Gestational diabetes can also damage your kidneys.
If it is your first pregnancy, it is ideal to keep a record of your pre and post meals blood sugar levels. Start noting down these levels in the form of a chart after week 20 of your pregnancy. Take the record of one week to your doctor. He or she will then perform some further testing and will start you on a specific diet or insulin accordingly. Better be safe than sorry!
Hemolytic disease of the newborn
There is another disease that we would like to explain. That’s because it has to be managed during the first pregnancy for the sake of your second one. Hemolytic disease of the newborn rarely affects your first baby but the damaging process starts while you are pregnant with your first child.
What happens is that if you have a blood group of a negative category (e.g. A-ve, B-ve) and your husband/partner has the blood group of a positive category, there are chances that you will conceive a baby with the positive blood group.
The baby’s positive blood cells will enter your bloodstream through the placenta. These positive blood cells of your baby will then act as foreign substances in your blood. Your body will respond by producing anti-bodies to destroy those foreign entities. The foreign blood cells will be killed off, which is not harmful in itself. The harm arises when these antibodies cross the placenta and start damaging your baby.
During your first pregnancy, the antibodies shall be forming. Your first baby shall be safe unless there is some inevitable mixing of large amounts of blood (for instance if the placenta ruptures.) Nevertheless, during the delivery of your first child, there is definitely going to be some mixing of blood. These antibodies will then be prepared to attack your second baby and create havoc. So, the point to be learned from this story is that before or during your first pregnancy, get your partner’s and your blood groups tested. If you are at risk, an appropriate course of anti-D-antibodies must be done to prevent this.