Many women who want to have a baby suffer from chronic diseases. In some cases, they are not necessarily aware that they are ill—many diseases allow us to lead a very normal life without being restricted in any way. Nevertheless, it is important to receive counselling, care and, if necessary, treatment for some diseases before becoming pregnant to ensure a normal pregnancy and a healthy start in life for the baby.
Asthma is the most common chronic disease occurring in the first half of life. If a pregnant woman has an asthma attack, her oxygen supply and possibly also that of her unborn child may be compromised. However, with proper medical care and medication, no complications should arise during pregnancy or birth.
In Europe, about 35 million adults have diabetes. Diabetes causes elevated blood glucose levels. These days, a woman with diabetes can have a healthy baby just like anyone else, provided that she receives the best possible care and controls her blood glucose levels before becoming pregnant. However, it is essential that the pregnancy is carefully monitored: this means regular self-checks of maternal blood glucose levels and an adequate care together with a diabetes expert, i.e. a diabetologist. Blood glucose level should be optimal for at least three months before becoming pregnant. For diabetic women there is, however, still a slightly higher risk of developing pregnancy complications.
About 5-10% of women suffer from gestational diabetes during their pregnancy. This type of diabetes occurs for the first time during pregnancy and normally disappears afterwards. Women with this disease are often unaware of it. Many countries offer a glucose intolerance test as part of the antenatal care programme to detect gestational diabetes.
The thyroid gland regulates the production of many hormones in the human body and therefore affects our metabolism as a whole. Thyroid dysfunction during the early weeks of pregnancy may result in problems for the child, in particular during the early years of life. With this disease, too, it is important to receive diagnosis and treatment by a doctor as early as possible—ideally before becoming pregnant.
High blood pressure
Elevated blood pressure can often be regulated by taking a number of simple steps. With appropriate medication and care, women with (chronic) high blood pressure can enjoy their pregnancy, but should take things easier and, above all, avoid stress.
Pregnant women with elevated blood pressure belong to a high-risk category, and therefore require additional medical supervision by a specialist throughout the entire pregnancy. This is especially important to detect early signs of complications such as pre-eclampsia.