Melissa Magstadt, South Dakota Secretary of Health

Pregnancy Risks

Any of the below mentioned risks or complications can be lessened with prenatal care. Prenatal care can help keep you and your baby healthy. It lets your health care provider spot health problems early. Early treatment can cure many problems and prevent others.

Eclampsia is the occurrence of seizures (not attributed to another cause) during pregnancy (usually after the 20th week). The cause of eclampsia is not well understood. Eclampsia may follow pre-eclampsia, if that condition cannot be brought under control.

Ectopic Pregnancy occurs when the fertilized egg implants in tissue outside of the uterus and the placenta and fetus begin to develop there. The most common site is within a Fallopian tube. However, ectopic pregnancies can rarely occur in the ovary, the abdomen, and in the lower portion of the uterus (the cervix).

Gestational diabetes is high blood sugar (glucose) that starts or is first diagnosed during pregnancy.

HELLP syndrome is a group of symptoms that occur in pregnant women who have:

Hyperemesis gravidarum is severe nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. It can lead to loss of weight and body fluids.

Placenta abruption occurs when the placenta (organ that supplies food and oxygen to the baby during pregnancy) detaches from the wall of the womb (uterus) before delivery. The most common symptoms are vaginal bleeding and painful contractions. Blood and oxygen supply to the baby may also be affected, leading to fetal distress.

Placenta previa is a problem of pregnancy in which the placenta grows in the lowest part of the womb (uterus) and covers all or part of the opening to the cervix.

Postpartum depression - In the first few weeks of caring for a newborn, most new moms feel anxious, sad, frustrated, tired, and overwhelmed. Sometimes known as the "baby blues," these feelings get better within a few weeks. Postpartum depression is more serious than “baby blues” and can start within the first few weeks after birth. It interferes with mom’s ability to care for herself and her family. It can occur up to a year after birth. Mothers with postpartum depression experience feelings of extreme sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion that may require treatment.

If you are concerned about yourself or a new mom who could be experiencing postpartum depression, contact your healthcare provider or call the national hotline for “Depression After Delivery” at 1-800-944-4773.

Postpartum Depression Screening - Your obstetrician/gynecologist, midwife, or primary care provider may give you a postpartum depression screening as part of a routine postpartum exam or if you are showing signs of severe depression two or more weeks after giving birth.

Preeclampsia is a condition occurring during pregnancy characterized by high blood pressure, protein in the urine, and swelling of the feet, ankles and lower legs. See the Preeclampsia brochure.

Premature infant is a baby born before 37 completed weeks of gestation (more than 3 weeks before the due date).

Preterm labor is labor that starts before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy. It can lead to premature birth. See the Preterm Labor brochure.

Miscarriage is an unexpected loss of pregnancy before the 20th week of pregnancy. Most miscarriages happen very early in the pregnancy, often before a woman even knows she is pregnant.


Baby blues - A condition many woman feel in the days right after a birth of a baby. Feelings may include mood swings, crying for no reason, sadness, loneliness, impatience, irritability, restlessness, anxiety,

Fallopian tube - the tube which extends from the side of the uterus and ends near the ovary. The egg released from the ovary travels through this tube to reach the uterus.

Fetus - SDCL 34-23A-1 (2) and SDCL 34-25-1.1 (10) define fetus as "the biological offspring, including the implanted embryo or unborn child, of human parents."

Gestational diabetes - a disorder in which the body has problems using carbohydrates starting or first recognized during pregnancy.

Hypertension - High blood pressure.

Ovary - two glands on each side of the female's pelvis in which the egg develops.

Placenta - Flattened, round mass of spongy tissue that contains a lot of blood vessels. It attaches to the inside of the uterine wall and carries food and oxygen to the fetus, and carries wastes away from the fetus.

Postpartum depression - A condition a woman may feel in the weeks following the birth of a baby or even months later. The feelings may be similar to baby blues but are much stronger.

Psychosis - A serious mental illness where the individual may lose touch with reality, hear or see things that are not there, and/or see things differently than they are.

Threatened miscarriage - Vaginal bleeding or spotting with or without cramping occurring early in the pregnancy which may lead to loss of the fetus.

Uterine implantation - Process by which the fertilized egg attaches to the lining of the uterus.

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