When you're pregnant for the first time, everything is new, exciting, and of course, slightly terrifying. You've never done this whole "growing a human" thing before and more than likely, you're feeling an insane amount of pressure to "do things right" and keep the tiny person inside you as safe and healthy as possible. You're probably frantically searching for common risks of first time pregnancies, in an effort to rule out all of the fears that you obsess over, and believe me, wanting to know all of the risks, but being equally terrified of them at the same time, is totally normal.
Although all pregnancies have some small level of risk, there is not usually any elevated level of risk involved just because this pregnancy is your first. In fact, according to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, risk in pregnancy is determined by preexisting health conditions, age, lifestyle factors, and conditions of pregnancy. The fact that it's your first pregnancy doesn't automatically put you at risk, so you can rest easy on that front.
The most common risks that pregnant women face have more to do with their health — for example, some women are more genetically predisposed to gestational diabetes — lifestyle (Do you smoke, drink, or do other behavior that could be risky to baby?), and age. The most common risks are discussed in detail below, but remember, no matter where you fall on the "risk spectrum" unnecessary worry isn't healthy for you or your baby.
1. High Blood Pressure
Although your OB-GYN will test your blood pressure at every visit, some women are more prone towards high blood pressure than others. According to Healthline, if a woman has blood pressure higher than 140/90 mm Hg, it's considered to be high.
If high blood pressure continues past week 20 of pregnancy, the mother and baby are put at higher risk for pre-eclampsia.
The most common causes of high blood pressure during pregnancy are being overweight or obese, smoking, drinking alcohol, a family history of hypertension (high blood pressure,) carrying multiples, and being over the age of 40.
2. Urinary Tract Infections
The American Pregnancy Association (APA) noted that women are at an increased risk for urinary tract infections (UTI) during week six through week 24 of pregnancy. Although UTIs aren't usually a big deal, if they're left untreated or worsen, they can develop into a kidney infection which can be dangerous for both mom and baby.
The APA cautioned that if you experience burning, lower back pain, or frequency of urination while pregnant, see your OB-GYN for treatment.
Although this isn't a medical condition, so to speak, it's worth noting that first time moms don't always expect the toll that pregnancy will take on their bodies, causing them to be exhausted through simply doing too much and not prioritizing rest. According to What to Expect, fatigue is fairly normal during pregnancy, especially around week nine, at the end of the first trimester, and pretty much for the duration of your third trimester.
Rest as often as you can and be sure to listen to your body's exhaustion cues to stay on top of your body's needs.
4. Gestational Diabetes
Gestational diabetes affects about two to five percent of pregnant women, according to the APA, and it's more common in women who are overweight, have a family history of diabetes, or are over the age of 35.
The APA noted that it's a temporary form of diabetes in which the body produces insufficient amounts of insulin to regulate sugar during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes can lead to high blood sugar, so your doctor will most likely encourage you to control your blood sugar levels very carefully if you're diagnosed.
Anemia is when someone has a lower than normal count of healthy red blood cells. According to Baby Center, iron-deficiency anemia (IDA) is usually harmless in pregnancy — in fact, your chances of becoming anemic increase when you get pregnant. It can lead to your baby being born with a low birth weight, so if you're diagnosed, your doctors will keep a close eye on you and encourage you to eat iron-rich foods.