Common Complications of Pregnancy

Without becoming an internet hypochondriac or scaring yourself into symptom spotting, it can be very useful to have a basic knowledge of some of the most common complications that can occur during pregnancy.

Hyperemesis Gravidarum

The majority of women experience nausea and sickness during pregnancy. Commonly called morning sickness, many women find it isn?t limited to the early part of the day! Occasionally, this sickness is so severe that it causes dehydration or excessive weight loss, both of which can be a threat to any pregnancy. It is essential that Hyperemesis is treated so if you are unable to keep any food down, find it difficult to drink or are losing weight as a result of sickness, then speak to your doctor or midwife. You may need intravenous fluids to help you stay healthy.

Gestational Diabetes

This is a form of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy as a result of hormonal changes which make some women’s cells less responsive to insulin. This results in high blood sugar. You may have no symptoms so it is important you are screened for the condition when offered the test. Women with diabetes during pregnancy need extra care and it will be especially important top monitor the blood sugar and have a controlled diet and exercise routine. You may also be given medication, and your baby will be monitored more closely during the last few months of pregnancy.

Iron Deficiency Anaemia

Many women find that their iron level drops during pregnancy and you are likely to have this level checked via blood tests. If the level is low, you will experience symptoms of anaemia, which may include tiredness, looking pale, headaches and even faintness or dizziness. It is important that you try to boost low iron levels with a healthy diet and your doctor may prescribe iron supplements.


High blood pressure in pregnancy is a worry due to the risk of Pre-Eclampsia. Your blood pressure should be checked regularly during pregnancy to ensure it as at a safe level. While it may rise throughout the pregnancy, your health care team including the doctor and midwife will keep checking to make sure it doesn?t rise too high. Pre-Eclampsia is when hypertension is accompanied by protein in the urine, and it can be a very dangerous and complex illness which can affect many different organs and systems in the body.

Placenta Previa

This is when the placenta lies low so that it is covering, or almost covering, the cervix. This can cause bleeding. While placenta previa in early pregnancy may resolve and you may have a healthy, normal pregnancy, if it does continue until later in pregnancy you will have to have a caesarean section in order to deliver the baby safely.


This complicated name is basically when there is not enough amniotic fluid in the womb. This needs to be monitored closely; levels of amniotic fluid do change during pregnancy and your health care team will be able to keep a close eye on your levels. You may be induced if amniotic fluid levels are low and you are near your due date.

More information can be found on the HSE website.