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Work with Your Doctor to Lower Your Risk of Pregnancy Complications

Work with your doctor to lower your risk of pregnancy complications

Becoming a mom can be exciting. As your baby bump grows, your whole body changes.

Sometimes even healthy women have complications, though. Pave the way to a healthier pregnancy by working with your doctor to lower your risks.

Gestational diabetes 1, 2

This disease occurs in about 9% of pregnancies, to women who’ve never had diabetes. Brought on in late pregnancy by hormone changes, gestational diabetes keeps insulin from moving enough glucose (blood sugar) to the body’s cells for energy. It builds up in the blood, causing high or even unsafe blood sugar levels.

Gestational diabetes can cause risks for both mother and child.

During pregnancy:

  • A woman is more likely to have preeclampsia (see below).

  • The baby can grow too large as extra blood sugar crosses the placenta.

  • Delivering a high birth-weight child can be more stressful for the mother, and nerves in the baby’s shoulders can be injured. A C-section (cesarean delivery) may be needed.

  • The newborn may have breathing problems as well as very low blood sugar in the hours after delivery.


After pregnancy:

  • The baby is at risk for childhood obesity, and for type 2 diabetes as an adult.

  • Gestational diabetes often goes away, yet it can happen again in future pregnancies. Half of all women who have had it later get type 2 diabetes.

You should watch for unusual thirst or an increase in how often and how much you pass urine. Because there are often no signs, your doctor may test for gestational diabetes at 24–28 weeks of pregnancy. Your doctor may give food and exercise advice, have you check your blood sugar often, and prescribe insulin if needed. Get tested for diabetes 6–12 weeks after giving birth, and then every 1–3 years.

High blood pressure (preeclampsia)3

Preeclampsia—which is having high blood pressure plus protein in the urine—can be life threatening. If not found, preeclampsia can cause seizures or stroke and lead to a low birth-weight baby, preterm birth or infant death.

You should watch for sudden weight gain or swelling of the face, hands and ankles. Other signs are headaches, light sensitivity or other eye problems, stomach pain, nausea or throwing up, brain fog or high anxiety. Your doctor will closely watch your blood pressure, kidneys and liver, and your baby’s growth. You may also need drugs to lower blood pressure and prevent seizures.


Obesity raises the risk for gestational diabetes or preeclampsia. It also may add to the chance of a C-section. The growing baby has a higher risk of premature delivery, stillbirth or a birth defect.

You should ask your healthcare team to help you reach a healthier weight before you get pregnant and stay healthy during pregnancy.

DIVE DEEPER! Learn more now about:


1 Source: American Diabetes Association

2 Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

3 Source: Preeclampsia Foundation

4 Source: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (Obesity and Pregnancy)

5 Source: Womenshealth.gov


© Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona | An Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

This information is provided for educational purposes only. Individuals should always consult with their healthcare providers regarding medical care or treatment, as recommendations, services or resources are not a substitute for the advice or recommendation of an individual's physician or healthcare provider. Services or treatment options may not be covered under an individual’s particular health plan.