close up of mother holding a baby

Most women have an easy and problem-free pregnancy but a small number may find their pregnancy complicated by medical issues. These may be medical conditions which were already present before pregnancy, like asthma, or they could be problems which happen only in pregnancy, such as pre-eclampsia (blood pressure of pregnancy).

Medical problems can vary from minor issues, which only need us to keep a closer eye on you and your baby, to serious health problems for which you have to stay in hospital. Sometimes health problems may mean your baby will be born earlier than expected.

Being in hospital while you are pregnant is often stressful for families. The information below is provided to help guide you through this journey. Don't hesitate to ask the midwives, nurses and doctors if you have questions. Our staff are here to help you

Nausea and Vomiting in Pregnancy

How often should my baby move each day?

Ways to protect you and your baby from infection

Many women have bacteria (germs) in the vagina and/or urine which do not cause any problems when they are not pregnant but can make them, or their baby, unwell during pregnancy and after birth. Below are fact sheets which tell you about the tests we do to protect you and your baby.

  • Asymptomatic bacteriuria in pregnancy
  • Group B Streptococcus in pregnancy (GBS)
  • Hepatitis B - pregnancy and breastfeeding
  • Hepatitis C - pregnancy and breastfeeding
  • Influenza in pregnancy
  • Whooping cough in pregnancy
  • High blood pressure / Pre-eclampsia

    High blood pressure can happen for the first time during pregnancy (pre-eclampsia) and may cause problems for you and your baby. Women who have high blood pressure before they are pregnant are more likely to develop pre-eclampsia. Blood pressure in pregnancy may also have long term health consequences for some women. Regular checks with your GP and a healthy lifestyle are important to protect you.

  • High blood pressure (hypertension) in pregnancy
  • Cardiovascular Disease and Pregnancy Complications [4:05m National Heart Foundation of Australia]
  • Diabetes in pregnancy

    Diabetes can develop during pregnancy for the first time, called gestational diabetes, it needs to be monitored to protect you and your baby. Having diabetes before you are pregnant is also relevant so we advise that you speak with your doctor before trying for a pregnancy to make sure things go as smoothly as possible during your pregnancy. Having gestational diabetes may increase the chances of developing diabetes later in life for some women. Regular checks with your GP and a healthy lifestyle are important to protect you.

  • Diabetes in pregnancy (gestational diabetes)
  • Did you have gestational diabetes during pregnancy? [Heart Foundation]
  • Gestational diabetes and eating well
  • Weight gain during pregnancy (gestational weight gain)
  • Anaemia in pregnancy

    Anaemia means having a low red blood cell count. Red cells carry oxygen around the body and having enough of these cells is essential for you and your baby. There are many causes of anaemia but in pregnancy, having low iron is a common and important one. We check your blood count at various stages of pregnancy to find out whether you need extra iron or other supplements.

  • Anaemia in pregnancy
  • Iron infusion
  • Nutrients of importance in pregnancy
  • Iron needs in pregnancy brochure
  • Rh negative mothers

    If your blood group is Rh negative (A negative, B negative, AB negative or O negative) then you will need to be given anti-D injections at particular times in your pregnancy to protect your current and future babies from serious anaemia.

  • Blood RhD negative - mother and baby
  • Problems with the placenta

    The placenta is the organ that feeds your baby during pregnancy and is delivered after your baby is born. Sometimes the placenta can be in the wrong position and obstruct (block) the passage of your baby through the birth canal. Rarely, the placenta separates (comes loose) from the wall of the uterus before it is supposed to. Both of these problems can cause bleeding during the second and third trimesters (first 3 or 6 months - thirds) of pregnancy.

  • Placenta accreta
  • Placenta previa (low lying placenta)
  • Pregnancy bleeding after the first trimester (placental abruption)
  • When my baby is not being born head first / Breech presentation

  • < External Cephalic Version (turning the baby).


  • When my waters break earlier than expected / Ruptured membranes

    Usually the waters (membranes) break during or just before labour starts. The facts sheets below provide information on what to expect when your waters break too early or if you do not go into labour once you waters break when your baby is due.

  • When your waters break before 37 weeks (PreTerm PROM)
  • When your waters break after 37 weeks (Term PROM)
  • Blood clots during or after pregnancy / Deep Vein Thrombosis [DVT]

    Pregnancy and the six weeks after your baby's birth, called the post-partum period, are times when you are at higher risk of blood clots in the legs (deep vein thrombosis - DVT) and the lungs (pulmonary embolism - PE). Women who have a had a blood clot in the past or who have a genetic, or inherited, risk for blood clots may need special care during and after their pregnancy. The information provided helps you understand how to prevent blood clots and what to expect if you have had one in the past.

  • Blood clots - prevention of Deep Vein Thrombosis [DVT] during and after pregnancy
  • Fact sheets on genetic or inherited conditions which cause blood clots [THANZ]
  • Musculoskeletal problems in pregnancy

    The hormones of pregnancy, as well as changes in your weight and posture, may cause pain in your joints and limbs. Some conditions are more common while pregnant like carpal tunnel syndrome and pelvic girdle pain. The following are information sheets that have been provided by the Westmead Hospital Physiotherapy Department to help you manage these problems. You can make an appointment at the Physiotherapy Department at Westmead Public Hospital on (02) 8890-6500.

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome in pregnancy
  • Pelvic girdle pain in pregnancy
  • Infections in pregnancy

    Pregnant women sometimes get infections during and after birth. Please refer to our fact sheets for further information

  • Bowel MRO (Multiple antibiotic-Resistant Organisms) in pregnancy and newborns - Information for patients, family and visitors
  • CMV Brochure
  • CMV Flyer
  • Syphilis
  • Thyroid disorders

    During pregnancy, some women may experience thyroid dysfunction where their thyroid becomes:

    • An underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), which can be due to having too little iodine in their body, a pre-existing immune disorder, or previous damage to the thyroid gland; or
    • An overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism), which is usually a result of a condition that stimulates the thyroid gland too much, such as Graves disease.

    Thyroid dysfunction affects 2 to 3 in every 100 pregnant women. Either an overactive or underactive thyroid dysfunction should be monitored and treated if necessary.

    Graves disease Factsheet