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Pregnancy complications

  • Pregnancy complications may need special medical care.
  • Common complications include diabetes and anemia.
  • Go to all your prenatal care checkups, even if you feel fine.
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Bacterial vaginosis and pregnancy

Bacterial vaginosis (also called BV or vaginitis) is an infection caused when there’s too much harmful bacteria in the vagina. BV is not a sexually transmitted disease (also called STD). This means you can get it without having sex. But having BV can increase your chances of getting an STD. An STD is a disease you can get from having sex with someone who has the disease. It’s important to have any infection treated during pregnancy so it doesn’t harm you or your baby.  

Having BV during pregnancy may increase your chances of having a premature birth. This is birth that happens too early, before 37 weeks of pregnancy. It also may increase your chances of having a baby with low birthweight. This means your baby is born weighing less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces. Being born too early or too small can cause health problems for your baby.

More than 1 million pregnant women in the United States get BV each year.

What causes BV?

We don’t know for sure what causes BV. Any woman can get it. BV seems to be more common in women who: 

  • Have new sex partners
  • Have more than one sex partner
  • Douche (use water or other liquid to clean inside the vagina)

How do you know if you have BV?

Most women with BV have no signs or symptoms. But you may have:

  • Vaginal discharge that has an unpleasant, fishy odor
  • Burning feeling when you urinate
  • Genital itching

If you think you may have BV, tell your health care provider right away. Your provider can examine you and take a sample of vaginal fluid to look for bacteria associated with BV. The sample is sent to a lab for testing.

BV is treated with antibiotics. Antibiotics are medicines that kill infections caused by bacteria. 

How can you protect yourself from BV?

Here are some things you can do to help protect yourself from BV:

  • Don’t have sex. This is the best way to prevent yourself from getting BV and as well as any STD.
  • If you have sex, have sex with only one person who doesn’t have other sex partners.
  • Don’t douche.

Last reviewed August 2014


When to call your provider

  • If you have heavy bleeding or bleeding for more than 24 hours
  • If you have fever, chills or severe headaches
  • If you have vision problems, like blurriness
  • If you have quick weight gain or your legs and face swell

Frequently Asked Questions

What is mononucleosis?

Mononucleosis (also called mono) is an infection usually caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). It’s sometimes caused by another virus called cytomegalovirus (CMV). EBV and CMV are part of the herpes virus family. Mono is most common in teenagers and young adults, but anyone can get it. Mono is called the “kissing disease” because it’s usually passed from one person to another through saliva. In addition to kissing, it can also be passed through sneezing, coughing or sharing pillows, drinks, straws, and toothbrushes.

You can have mono without having any symptoms. But even if you don’t get sick, you can still pass it to others. Symptoms can include:

  • Achy muscles
  • Belly pain
  • Fatigue (feeling tired all the time)
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Swollen glands in your neck

If your symptoms don’t go away or get worse, tell your health care provider. He’ll most likely do a physical exam and test your blood to find out for sure if you have mono.

There’s no vaccine to prevent mono. There’s also no specific treatment. The best care is to take it easy and get as much rest as you can. It may take a few weeks before you fully recover.

Can Rh factor affect my baby?

The Rh factor may be a problem if mom is Rh-negative but dad is Rh-positive. If dad is Rh-negative, there is no risk.

If your baby gets her Rh-positive factor from dad, your body may believe that your baby's red blood cells are foreign elements attacking you. Your body may make antibodies to fight them. This is called sensitization.

If you're Rh-negative, you can get shots of Rh immune globulin (RhIg) to stop your body from attacking your baby. It's best to get these shots at 28 weeks of pregnancy and again within 72 hours of giving birth if a blood test shows that your baby is Rh-positive. You won't need anymore shots after giving birth if your baby is Rh-negative. You should also get a shot after certain pregnancy exams like an amniocentesis, a chorionic villus sampling or an external cephalic version (when your provider tries to turn a breech-position baby head down before labor). You'll also want to get the shot if you have a miscarriage, an ectopic pregnancy or suffer abdominal trauma.

I had a miscarriage. How long should I wait to try again?

Before getting pregnant again, it's important that you are ready both physically and emotionally. If you don't need tests or treatments to discover the cause of the miscarriage, it's usually OK for you to become pregnant after one normal menstrual cycle. However, it may take longer for you to feel emotionally ready to be pregnant again. Everyone responds differently to a miscarriage. Only you will know when you are ready to try to get pregnant again.

Are gallstones common during pregnancy?

Not common, but they do happen. Elevated hormones during pregnancy can cause the gallbladder to function more slowly, less efficiently. The gallbladder stores and releases bile, a substance produced in the liver. Bile helps digest fat. When bile sits in the gallbladder for too long, hard, solid nuggets called gallstones can form. The stones can block the flow of bile, causing indigestion and sometimes serious pain. Staying at a healthy weight during pregnancy can help lower your risk of gallstones. Exercise and eating foods that are low in fat and high in fiber, like veggies, fruits and whole grains, can help, too. Symptoms of gallstones include nausea, vomiting and intense, continuous abdominal pain. Treatment during pregnancy may include surgery to remove the gallbladder. Gallstones in the third trimester can be managed with a strict meal plan and pain medication, followed by surgery several weeks after delivery.

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