Pregnancy Predictors: What Pregnancy Can Tell You About Your Future Health

What if an expectant mom's baby bump was like a crystal ball, and her pregnancy could predict her future health? Actually, the idea isn’t that farfetched. How a woman’s body responds to pregnancy can give her important clues about health issues that lie ahead. Pregnancy is a time when doctors can spot things they might otherwise not be looking for. If you’re expecting, be on the lookout for four other pregnancy indicators:

THE SIGN: GESTATIONAL DIABETES.
This is a failure to compensate for the normal insulin resistance during pregnancy. During
pregnancy, the placenta creates hormones that interfere with the body’s usual response
It’s a backup system so the baby always gets adequate glucose.

WHAT IT PREDICTS: A mother’s increased risk for type 2 diabetes later in life.

WHAT TO DO: Typically, gestational diabetes will go away once the baby is delivered. But if you look 10 years later, the risk is seven times higher for these women to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. It’s a big risk factor. If you have other risk factors—like being overweight or having a family history of the disease—you’re at an even higher risk. In this case, a lifestyle change is in order. Get healthier. There are significant studies that show us a healthy diet and exercise can help prevent type 2 diabetes.


THE SIGN: PREECLAMPSIA.
Marked by high blood pressure and protein in the urine, preeclampsia’s cause is unknown, and the only cure is to deliver the baby.

WHAT IT PREDICTS: A higher risk of cardiovascular disease (heart attacks and strokes), chronic hypertension and renal disease.

WHAT TO DO: This has been widely studied to try and find out how to prevent it but nothing has worked so far. What women with preeclampsia need to do most of all is not forget about this sneaky syndrome after they deliver. Women need to look at all their cardiovascular
disease risk factors. This means losing weight if you’re overweight and adhering to a heart healthy diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables. Have your cholesterol and blood pressure checked regularly, and treat any symptoms of heart disease early.

THE SIGN: POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION.
Almost 20 percent of women will experience this condition after giving birth. Symptoms include feeling sad, hopeless and worthless; having trouble bonding with their baby; 
difficulty sleeping; feeling moody; and experiencing bouts of crying. Postpartum
depression is marked by these symptoms lasting more than two weeks.

WHAT IT PREDICTS: A higher risk for postpartum depression with future pregnancies and a higher risk of mental illness for the child.

WHAT TO DO: Get screened. One option is the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale to help recognize postpartum depression.  Women need to know this is not a character
flaw, not a weakness. It’s very common. It happens to normal, healthy people. But it’s very treatable, and most women will need only brief treatment.

THE SIGN: INCONTINENCE.
An expanding uterus presses on the bladder, and urine may leak out at inconvenient times,
which explains why some moms-to-be are afraid to sneeze or laugh too hard.

WHAT IT PREDICTS: Higher risk for incontinence later in life.

WHAT TO DO: Unfortunately, the more vaginal births a woman has, the more likely she is to have incontinence later on. This doesn’t mean you should rally for a cesarean section. Vaginal births are safer. There’s less risk of infection. There should be a clear indication
that a C-section is needed.  To help stave off future incontinence, practice Kegel exercises during and after pregnancy— tighten your pelvic floor muscles for a count of 10 and
release. Then repeat 10 times, three times a day, to strengthen these muscles.

Guidance Before, During and After Pregnancy
GMC's Gwinnett Women's Pavilion has classes to help you navigate any stage of pregnancy. Call 678-312-5000 to register or learn more about our classes, or visit gwinnettmedicalcenter.org

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