Six Diseases that Are Common During Pregnancy

Any pregnancy can have complications. There are diseases that can emerge during the process. To prevent these, regular doctor’s visits can save the lives of both mother and baby.
Six Diseases that Are Common During Pregnancy
Maricela Jiménez López

Reviewed and approved by the doctor Maricela Jiménez López.

Written by Thady Carabaño

Last update: 25 July, 2022

The changes that a woman’s body undergoes while nourishing the life of another human being also expose her to certain common diseases during pregnancy. These problems usually are resolved after the birth of the baby.

While many women suffer from these common problems during pregnancy, many also do not. Some diseases are more prevalent than others. Some are benign, while others are more complex and can affect the development of the pregnancy and the baby itself.

Diseases that are common during pregnancy

Adequate prenatal care is the one thing that will guarantee that none of these diseases put the life of the baby or the mother at risk. It’s very important to be aware of the first symptoms, should they appear.

1. Anemia

A woman with anemia which a common disease during pregnancy.

The most common issue during pregnancy is caused by an iron deficiency in the bloodstream, as indicated in the scientific literature.

During pregnancy, a women’s circulation increases as oxygenated blood is carried to the baby. Iron binds to the red blood cells in order to transport oxygen. A low iron intake causes the mother to become tired, look pale, and have trouble breathing. In severe cases, low iron can affect the growth of the baby.

Doctors will typically prescribe iron supplements (either oral or intravenous) and take multiple measurements of iron levels throughout the pregnancy. In more severe cases, a blood transfusion may be required. Good nutrition is essential to prevent anemia.

2. Gingivitis during pregnancy

Increased blood flow during the first trimester of pregnancy and levels of progesterone can cause gingivitis in pregnant women. This is worsened when morning sickness makes it difficult to properly brush their teeth.

Hormones also alter the pH of saliva, further complicating this situation. Visits to the dentist during the first and third trimesters for cleanings are recommended. Although overlapping or forming part of a larger picture, gingivitis is one of the common diseases during pregnancy.

Some natural treatments to prevent gingivitis are also good ideas, such as brushing with baking soda and applying honey and borax to the gums to protect oral health. If a woman can preserve her oral hygiene during pregnancy, gingivitis should disappear after she gives birth.

3. Urinary tract infections

A woman with a urinary tract infection.
You should consult a gynecologist to cure any UTIs. This is because soap alone can’t cure these types of conditions.

Hormonal changes and the shift in the pelvic structure that pregnancy causes compromise a woman’s natural defenses against bacteria that colonize the urethra. This results in urinary tract infections, another common disease during pregnancy. Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Presence of blood in the urine
  • Frequent urination
  • Pain in the lower abdomen and back
  • Urine with a bad smell or cloudy appearance
  • The feeling that the bladder isn’t completely empty

In some cases, a woman won’t have any symptoms, which is dangerous because it could lead to a miscarriage or premature birth. A doctor will usually recommend two urine tests during pregnancy.

There are natural treatments for this condition, but you should always be cautious when trying herbal solutions as they could interact with prescription drugs or even with some commonly consumed foods.

If the infections are frequent and don’t respond to treatment, a doctor will order a urine culture to determine what the best antibiotic options are for both the mother and the baby.

4. Vaginal infections

The bodily and hormonal changes that often lead to urinary tract infections during pregnancy can also trigger vaginal infections. The woman may have vaginal discharge that is abundant, foul-smelling, and itchy. Another symptom could be pain or burning during sex. A doctor will usually determine the treatment for these symptoms.

In some cases, a culture (Pap smear) will be needed to determine if the infection is due to bacteria, fungi, parasites, or a combination of the above. Vaginal suppositories are usually recommended for treatment to avoid exposing the baby to medications.

5. Gestational diabetes during pregnancy

A pregnant woman getting a check-up.

Hormonal changes are also responsible for altering a woman’s blood sugar levels during pregnancy. If there is a genetic disposition for diabetes, it can appear during pregnancy and disappear after birth.

Aside from hunger, thirst, and frequent urination, a pregnant woman will experience considerable weight gain and growth in the size of the baby (fetal macrosomia). There can also be excess amniotic fluid present (polyhydramnios).

These complications can lead to the death of the baby due to respiratory problems post-delivery. The future child could also develop diabetes or suffer from obesity. For these reasons, gestational diabetes cannot be taken lightly.

A doctor will order a blood sugar test and a glucose tolerance curve. If positive results appear, the situation must be controlled by a balanced diet. If changes in diet aren’t enough, the doctor will prescribe daily injections of insulin.

6. Pre-eclampsia

Increased blood pressure during the second half of pregnancy can indicate pre-eclampsia. This is a common but higher risk disease during pregnancy and is the second most common cause of death among pregnant women. Only adequate medical care can avoid the complications associated with it.

A woman with this condition may not have major symptoms. Only regular blood pressure checks will detect it. As the condition progresses, she will have fluid retention, headaches, ringing in the ears, trouble with her vision, stomach pain, and seizures.

If blood pressure is 140/90 or higher, a urine test will be ordered to determine the presence of proteins. This confirms whether or not it is pre-eclampsia. If so, a doctor will typically induce labor to avoid risking the lives of both the baby and the mother by continuing the pregnancy any longer, always depending on the week of gestation.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Alemán Mondeja, Linet Diana, Caridad Almanza Martínez, and Octavio Fernández Limia. “Diagnóstico y prevalencia de infecciones vaginales.” Revista Cubana de Obstetricia y Ginecología 36.2 (2010): 62-103.
  • Duarte-Gardea, María, et al. “Prevalencia, detección y tratamiento de la diabetes gestacional.” Revista Salud Pública y Nutrición 5.1 (2004).
  • Enrile de Rojas, Francisco J., and Antonio Santos-Alemany. “Colutorios para el control de placa y gingivitis basados en la evidencia científica.” Rcoe 10.4 (2005): 445-452.
  • Vargas, Víctor Manuel, Gustavo Acosta, and Mario Adán Moreno. “La preeclampsia un problema de salud pública mundial.” Revista chilena de obstetricia y ginecología 77.6 (2012): 471-476.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.