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11 Maternal Health Issues You Have Never Heard About

When I first became pregnant, I had a lot of fears. I worried whether or not I would be a good mom, if my baby would be healthy, and if I would be able to get that complicated stroller out of my car trunk by myself. Among all this fretting, the possibility of me becoming seriously ill never crossed my mind. I was in good health and figured that would carry out through my pregnancy. But there are some serious maternal health issues you have never heard about that should have been on my radar. Because not knowing the signs of these conditions could be fatal.

The tricky thing with being pregnant, is all the changes your body is experiencing. So what may seem odd to you (the veins in your legs suddenly tripling in size) is a total normal side effect of being pregnant. But other times, symptoms that may seems to be as ordinary as the common cold, could be harboring some a nasty secret. Many of these conditions can have serious affects on both you and your baby if not diagnosed and treated by a medical professional.

If you are pregnant, or plan on becoming pregnant, make sure to take note of these 11 maternal health issues that are not commonly talked about, so you can be your own best advocate for your health.

1. Amniotic Embolism

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Although very rare, experiencing an amniotic embolism can have tragic results. According to Healthline, this condition occurs when amniotic fluid containing debris such as hair or cells from the baby makes its way into your bloodstream. It is impossible to prevent or predict and can lead to heart failure during labor or shortly after birth.

2. Bacterial Vaginosis

Commonly known as BV, bacterial vaginosis is an infection in the vagina caused by an imbalance of bacteria, according to Baby Center. Although you can get this infection at any time, when you have BV while pregnant, there is a risk of preterm birth and low birth rate.  

3. Toxoplasmosis

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You may have heard pregnant women with cats get a free pass on liter box duty for nine months, but why? The reason is the risk of contracting toxoplasmosis. However, cat boxes are not the only way pregnant women can contract this blood infection. As the American Pregnancy Association pointed out, undercooked meat and contaminated produce causes toxoplasmosis as well. Symptoms include fatigue, fever, and swollen lymph nodes.

4. Maternal Sepsis

According to the website for the Sepsis Alliance, sepsis is an inflammatory response to infection, sometimes referred to as blood poisoning. This can happen during pregnancy due to an infection such as a UTI. If caught soon enough, maternal sepsis can be treated, but in many cases in fatal.

5. Depression

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Postpartum depression is the one usually making the news, and while this condition is very serious, there's not much talk about gestational depression. But as Parents magazine reported, 33 percent of pregnant women experience depression at some point in their pregnancy.

6. Parvovirus b19

Similar to chicken pox, parvovirus b19 (also called Fifths Disease) can be contracted at any time, but can add complications to pregnancies. According to the Center for Disease Control, babies can have severe anemia which can lead to miscarriage, although this is rare. Most of the time, the illness is mild.

7. Hyperemesis Gravidarum

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The U.S. Library of National Medicine defines hyperemesis as "[the] extreme, persistent nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. It can lead to dehydration, weight loss, and electrolyte imbalances." This goes beyond the average morning sickness, and is a huge struggle for pregnant women with this condition.

8. Pulmonary Embolism

Developing a blood clot in the legs or lungs is the cause of a pulmonary embolism, according to Health Talk. Women are at risk for these blood clots during pregnancy and up to six weeks after delivery. Look out for throbbing pain in the legs, shortness of breast, or chest pain.

9. Heart Disease

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Pregnancy can take a toll on your cardiovascular system. The extra blood your body requires during you're pregnancy puts stress on your heart, as Mayo Clinic pointed out. While certain heart conditions can cause more problems than others, most can be treated by throughout your pregnancy.

10. Stroke

Doctors are noticing a rise of strokes among pregnant women, and it seems to boil down to some particular risk factors. According to the New York Times, obesity, inactivity, and advanced maternal age are the risk factors researchers are associating with pregnancy strokes.

11. Cytomegalovirus (CMV)

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What may seem like a common cold, could be a virus with damaging affects to the baby. As U.S. Office of Women's Health reported, if a mother is infected with CMV, the baby could develop hearing loss, vision loss, or other disabilities.