My Guide to Pregnancy

Pregnancy Complications

Every woman’s body is designed to become pregnant and to do the work of labor and birth.  Occasionally complications may arise during pregnancy. 

For more information on the complications you may experience during pregnancy, consult your doctor or call 314-996-LIFE (5433) or toll-free 800-392-0936.

During your regular exams your doctor will monitor you for the following conditions:


During pregnancy, your hormones make it tougher for your body to use insulin, so your pancreas needs to produce more of it. As your need for insulin increases, your pancreas dutifully secretes more of it. But when a woman's pancreas can't keep up with the insulin demand and her blood glucose levels get too high, the result is gestational diabetes.

The biggest concern with gestational diabetes is that too much glucose will be passed onto the baby, making for a very large baby – too large to fit through the birth canal. Between 2 and 7 percent of expectant mothers develop this condition, making it one of the most common health problems of pregnancy. Your doctor will screen you for this condition at the end of the second trimester.


A woman is diagnosed with preeclampsia if she has high blood pressure and protein in her urine after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Preeclampsia most commonly shows up after 37 weeks, but it can develop at any time during the second half of pregnancy, during labor or even after delivery — usually within the first 48 hours. Preeclampsia can range from mild to severe, and can come on suddenly, so it's very important to be aware of the symptoms.

Call your doctor right away if you notice swelling in your face or puffiness around your eyes, more than slight swelling of your hands, or excessive or sudden swelling of your feet or ankles. The only way to get better is to deliver the baby. This condition affects 3 to 8 percent of pregnant women.


Placenta previa means that your placenta is lying unusually low in your uterus, next to or covering your cervix. The placenta is the organ — normally located near the top of the uterus — that supplies your baby with nutrients through the umbilical cord. Placenta previa is not usually a problem early in pregnancy. But if it persists into later pregnancy, it can cause bleeding, which may require you to deliver early and can lead to other complications. If you have placenta previa when it's time to deliver your baby, you'll need to have a C-section.