Pregnancy Complications

At a glance

Pregnancy complications include physical and mental conditions that affect the health of the pregnant or postpartum person, their baby, or both. It is important to get health care before, during, and after pregnancy to lower the risk of pregnancy complications.

Pregnant woman with text reads Know the Urgent Maternal Warning Signs

Reducing your risk

Physical and mental conditions that can lead to complications may start before, during, or after pregnancy. Living a healthy lifestyle and getting health care before, during, and after pregnancy can lower your risk of pregnancy complications.

Woman holding pregnant belly with HEAR HER Concerns text displayed
CDC's Hear Her campaign shares messages about urgent warning signs.

CDC's Hear Her® campaign‎

The Hear Her campaign supports CDC's efforts to prevent pregnancy-related complications and deaths by sharing potentially life-saving messages about urgent maternal warning signs. If you have an urgent maternal warning sign during or after pregnancy, get medical care immediately.

Before you get pregnant, eat healthy, stay at a healthy weight, avoid tobacco products, and take care of your mental health. When you start trying to get pregnant, avoid any alcohol use. Preconception health care can also help you be as healthy as possible before pregnancy.

Once you're pregnant, start prenatal care early. Talk to your health care provider about current or past health conditions. Your provider might recommend changing how your health condition is managed. Also, discuss problems you had in previous pregnancies.

After pregnancy, see your health care provider for postpartum care. Discuss anything that doesn't feel right. This includes physical symptoms, and also sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion that make it hard to take care of yourself or others. You may need to see different health care providers to be as healthy as possible after pregnancy.

Below are some common conditions that can happen before, during, or after pregnancy. You can help prevent and manage them by seeing a health care provider regularly before, during, and after pregnancy.


Anemia is having lower than the normal number of healthy red blood cells. People with anemia may feel tired and weak. You are more likely to get iron-deficiency anemia during pregnancy because your body needs more iron than normal. Treating the underlying cause of the anemia, if possible, can help restore the number of healthy red blood cells. Your provider may also recommend you take iron and/or folic acid supplements to help prevent and manage anemia.


Anxiety disorders are common before, during, and after pregnancy. If you have an anxiety disorder, you may struggle with uncontrollable feelings of anxiety, nervousness, fear, worry, and/or panic. These feelings can be intense and may last a long time. Anxiety disorders often occur with depression. Talk to your health care provider as soon as possible if you think you have an anxiety disorder.


Everyone feels sad sometimes, but these feelings usually pass in a few days. Depression interferes with daily life and may last for weeks or months at a time. Some people have depression before, during, or after pregnancy.

Depression during pregnancy can make it hard for you to care for yourself and your pregnancy. Having depression before or during pregnancy is also a risk factor for postpartum depression, which is depression that occurs after pregnancy. Talk to your health care provider as soon as possible if you think you have depression. If you have thoughts of harming yourself or your baby, seek medical care immediately.


Diabetes is a disease that affects how your body turns food into energy. There are three main types of diabetes: type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes. For pregnant people with preexisting diabetes, high blood sugar around the time of conception increases the risk of health problems. These include birth defects, stillbirth, and preterm birth. Among people with any type of diabetes, high blood sugar throughout pregnancy can increase the risk of complications, such as preeclampsia.

To manage your diabetes, see your doctor as recommended and monitor your blood sugar levels. Additionally, follow a good nutrition plan developed with your provider or dietician, be physically active, and take your medications as directed. Managing diabetes can help you have a healthy pregnancy. If you have diabetes before pregnancy or develop it during pregnancy, see your provider after pregnancy. This can help monitor your blood sugar and overall health.

Heart conditions

Heart conditions impact the heart and blood vessels. Making healthy food choices, limiting alcohol, quitting smoking, and managing other chronic conditions can reduce your risk for many heart conditions. Not everyone has symptoms, but you may feel neck, jaw, chest, belly, or back pain if you have a heart condition.

Many people with heart conditions have healthy, uneventful pregnancies. However, having a heart condition may increase the risk of severe illness and death during and after pregnancy. It's important to see your health care provider, ideally before pregnancy or in early pregnancy. During your first prenatal care visit, tell your provider if you have a heart condition. If you are diagnosed with a heart condition during pregnancy, you may be monitored more often during and after pregnancy.

Some heart conditions, preeclampsia, or gestational diabetes may increase your risk for other, future heart conditions after pregnancy. Work with your health care provider to monitor your risk or manage your heart condition before, during, and after pregnancy. More information can be found at Heart Health and Pregnancy.

High blood pressure

High blood pressure (also known as hypertension) is a common condition occurring when your blood pressure is higher than normal. Chronic hypertension means having high blood pressure before you get pregnant or before 20 weeks of pregnancy. Gestational hypertension is high blood pressure that first occurs after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Preeclampsia happens if you suddenly develop high blood pressure and protein in your urine after 20 weeks of pregnancy. If you have chronic hypertension, you can also get preeclampsia.

High blood pressure increases the risk of preterm delivery, and low birth weight, eclampsia, and stroke. High blood pressure may be prevented and is treatable. To help you manage your blood pressure, use Practice Healthy Living Habits to Help Prevent High Blood Pressure. At-home self-measured blood pressure monitoring with support from your health care provider can also help. If you are at high risk for preeclampsia, your provider may recommend low-dose aspirin after 12 weeks of pregnancy.

Hyperemesis gravidarum

Many pregnant people have some nausea or vomiting, or "morning sickness," especially in the first 3 months of pregnancy. Hyperemesis gravidarum, however, is more extreme than "morning sickness." It refers to persistent nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. This can lead to weight loss and dehydration and may require intensive treatment. If you are concerned about your symptoms, call your health care provider. If you have severe nausea, seek medical care immediately.


Infections can complicate pregnancy and may have serious consequences. Being screened and treated for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and getting recommended vaccines can prevent many bad outcomes. Easy steps, including hand washing and avoiding certain foods, can also help protect you from some infections. Your health care provider can help you stay up to date with your vaccines. To learn more about different infections and how to protect your health, visit the following webpages.

One common bacterial infection during pregnancy is a urinary tract infection (UTI). Your health care provider will likely test your urine early in pregnancy. This is to see if you have a UTI and treat you with antibiotics, if necessary. Treatment will make it better, often in 1 or 2 days. Although not everyone has symptoms, you may have a UTI if you have pain or burning when you pee.


Starting pregnancy at a healthy weight can help reduce the risk of preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, stillbirth, and cesarean delivery. Talk to your health care provider about ways to reach and maintain a healthy weight before you get pregnant. Gaining a healthy amount of weight during pregnancy is also important for your health during and after pregnancy. Learn about pregnancy weight gain recommendations and steps to help you meet your pregnancy weight gain goal.

Related links

CDC Pregnancy Learn about tips to get ready for pregnancy and giving your baby a healthy start in life. And tips to keeping yourself and the baby healthy after birth.

Chronic Health Conditions and Pregnancy Learn more about conditions that may complicate pregnancy from the March of Dimes.

Pregnancy Complications Learn more about pregnancy complications from

Severe Maternal Morbidity Health professionals and researchers interested in learning can learn more at the CDC Severe Maternal Morbidity page.