5 Uncommon Complications During Pregnancy That Every Mother Should Know About

2/3/20245 min read

By Dr. Camia Jones

5 Uncommon Pregnancy Conditions

Sometimes we can become afraid of the unknown. Better yet as mothers we should always be prepared for the unknown.

Pregnancy is a beautiful journey filled with anticipation and excitement. While most people are aware of common pregnancy complications like morning sickness and fatigue, there are some lesser-known complications that can arise during this special time. It's important for mothers-to-be to be aware of these uncommon complications and know what to look out for. Let's explore five of these lesser-known complications:

Placenta Previa

Placenta previa occurs when the placenta partially or completely covers the cervix. This can cause bleeding during pregnancy and delivery. Placenta previa is typically diagnosed through ultrasound imaging during routine prenatal care. Ultrasound can identify the placental location and determine if it is covering the cervix. Mild cases of placenta previa may resolve on their own as the uterus expands and the placenta shifts upward.

In some cases, healthcare providers may recommend bed rest to minimize the risk of bleeding. Regular monitoring through ultrasounds is crucial to track the placental position and assess any changes. If placenta previa persists close to the time of delivery, a cesarean section (C-section) may be recommended to avoid complications associated with vaginal delivery, such as significant bleeding.

It is important for expectant mothers to be aware of the signs, such as painless bleeding in the second or third trimester, and seek medical attention immediately. In some cases, a cesarean section may be necessary for a safe delivery.


PUPPP, or Pruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy, is a skin condition that sometimes occurs during pregnancy. It is characterized by an itchy rash that typically develops in the stretch marks on the abdomen but can also spread to other parts of the body.

PUPPP usually presents as red, raised bumps or hives (papules) and larger, flat areas (plaques). The rash often starts within stretch marks but can extend beyond them.The most common and distressing symptom of PUPPP is intense itching. The itching can be severe and may become more pronounced at night.While it often begins on the abdomen in the stretch marks, PUPPP can also spread to the thighs, buttocks, breasts, and arms. The face is usually not affected.PUPPP typically develops in the third trimester of pregnancy, usually during the last month. In some cases, it may appear earlier.PUPPP is generally not harmful to the baby, and it usually resolves on its own after delivery. The itching may persist for a few weeks postpartum but gradually improves.

The exact cause of PUPPP is not well understood, but it is believed to be related to the stretching of the skin. While the condition can be uncomfortable, it is not associated with long-term health risks for the mother or baby. If a pregnant woman develops a rash or experiences intense itching, it is essential to consult with a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and management.

HELLP Syndrome

HELLP syndrome is a serious and potentially life-threatening pregnancy complication that involves a combination of three main features: Hemolysis (the destruction of red blood cells), Elevated Liver enzymes, and Low Platelet count. The condition usually occurs in the third trimester of pregnancy, but it can develop earlier. Here are some details regarding the appearance and resolution of HELLP syndrome: HELLP syndrome symptoms can be nonspecific and may include nausea, vomiting, headache, upper abdominal pain (usually under the ribs on the right side), and edema (swelling), among others. Diagnosis is based on laboratory tests that reveal hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelet count. Blood tests may also show abnormalities in other blood components.

The most effective treatment for HELLP syndrome is the prompt delivery of the baby. In many cases, this involves delivering the baby as soon as possible, even if it is before the due date.If the baby is not mature enough for delivery or if the mother's condition is stable, healthcare providers may manage the condition with medications and close monitoring until the baby can be safely delivered. Even after delivery, the mother requires close monitoring as complications can persist or arise in the postpartum period. Blood pressure, liver function, and platelet levels are closely monitored.

HELLP syndrome is a medical emergency, and timely diagnosis and intervention are crucial for the well-being of both the mother and the baby. If a pregnant woman experiences symptoms associated with HELLP syndrome, such as severe abdominal pain or persistent vomiting, she should seek immediate medical attention. Treatment and management depend on the severity of the condition and the gestational age of the baby.

Placental Abruption

Placental abruption happens when the placenta separates from the uterine wall before delivery. This can cause heavy bleeding and can be life-threatening for both the mother and the baby. Due to the bleeding This condition may deprive the baby of oxygen and nutrients. Symptoms may include sudden abdominal pain, back pain, and vaginal bleeding. Immediate medical attention is crucial in cases of placental abruption.

Placental abruption often presents with vaginal bleeding, which can range from mild to severe. However, in some cases, the bleeding may be concealed behind the placenta, leading to less visible external bleeding.Women with placental abruption may experience sudden and severe abdominal pain, often described as sharp or stabbing.The uterus may feel rigid, board-like, or tender upon palpation.

The most common resolution for placental abruption is delivery. In some cases, this might involve an emergency cesarean section if the baby needs to be delivered quickly to ensure both the mother and the baby's safety. If the abruption is mild and the baby is not in immediate distress, healthcare providers may choose a conservative approach, closely monitoring both the mother and the baby. In such cases, the decision on when and how to deliver will depend on the severity of the abruption and the gestational age of the baby.In severe cases where there is significant maternal blood loss, blood transfusions may be necessary to address any potential complications.

Placental abruption is a medical emergency, and prompt diagnosis and intervention are crucial for the well-being of both the mother and the baby. The course of action will depend on the severity of the abruption and the overall condition of the mother and the baby.

Cholestasis of Pregnancy

Cholestasis of pregnancy is a liver disorder that affects the flow of bile. It can cause intense itching, especially on the hands and feet. Although, it does not pose a direct threat to the mother's health, it can increase the risk of preterm birth and stillbirth. Regular monitoring and management of symptoms are important to ensure the well-being of both the mother and the baby.

While these complications may be uncommon, it's essential for expectant mothers to be aware of their existence and the signs to watch out for. Regular prenatal care, open communication with healthcare providers, and seeking immediate medical attention when necessary can help ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy.

Remember, every pregnancy is unique, and it's important to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice and guidance throughout this incredible journey.

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