Health Library Explorer
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z A-Z Listings Contact Us

June 2023

Know How to Spot Pregnancy Complications

As a mom-to-be, you probably hear a lot about morning sickness. But how much have you heard about hyperemesis gravidarum, preeclampsia, and gestational diabetes?

These less-discussed pregnancy issues are more common than you might think. It’s important to know what to watch for. If they happen to you, prompt care is the key to a healthier pregnancy and safer delivery for you and your baby.

So, don’t let the unfamiliar names throw you. Here’s how to be prepared—not scared—to recognize these pregnancy complications.

Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG)

HG is severe nausea and vomiting during pregnancy—worse than ordinary morning sickness. It occurs in up to 3% of pregnancies.

Contact your provider if you experience:

  • Nausea that doesn’t go away

  • Vomiting several times each day

  • Weight loss

  • Decreased appetite

  • Lightheadedness or fainting

  • Dehydration (loss of body fluids), which may cause dark-colored urine or inability to urinate

Early treatment helps keep HG from worsening. Options include a bland diet, IV fluids, and anti-nausea medicine. Some women need hospitalization to stop the vomiting and restore body fluids.


Preeclampsia is a sharp rise in blood pressure after mid-pregnancy that is accompanied by problems with the kidneys or other organs. It occurs in about 4% of pregnancies.

Often, preeclampsia is found by prenatal screenings that look for high blood pressure and protein in your urine. Contact your provider if you develop:

  • Swelling of your hands and face

  • Pain in your upper belly or shoulder

  • Changes in vision or seeing spots

  • A headache that won’t go away

  • Sudden weight gain

  • Difficulty breathing

Preeclampsia can be a dangerous complication, but the right prenatal care reduces the risks. When needed, labor can be induced (brought on by medicine).

Gestational diabetes

This refers to diabetes that starts during pregnancy in a woman who didn’t have it before. It occurs in 2 to 10% of pregnancies each year.

Gestational diabetes is typically found by prenatal screening tests for high blood sugar—the hallmark of diabetes. It usually begins around mid-pregnancy. You might not have any symptoms, but tell your provider if you develop extreme thirst, hunger, or fatigue.

Work with your provider to control your blood sugar. That may involve following a healthy meal plan, getting appropriate exercise, and checking your blood sugar frequently. If needed, your provider can prescribe insulin.

Online Medical Reviewer: Brian McDonough, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Ray Turley, MSN, BSN
Date Last Reviewed: 12/1/2023
© 2000-2024 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
The health content and information on this site is made possible through the generous support of the Haspel Education Fund.
StayWell Disclaimer