9 major pregnancy complications facing women in Africa



Before they become pregnant, some women have health problems that could lead to complications in their pregnancy. Other problems arise during the pregnancy.
Whether a complication is common or rare, there are ways to manage problems that come up during pregnancy.

In a study conducted in cities and towns in six countries, 3-9 women of every 100 giving birth developed a severe complication that was directly related to the pregnancy. Roughly one-third of those with sepsis or uterine rupture, and about one-fifth of those with eclampsia, died.

The study examined the incidence of pregnancy-related morbidity in the capital cities of Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Mauritania and Niger, and in two small towns and a major city in Senegal. In all, 20,326 women participated. On average, they were 27 weeks pregnant and 26 years old when they enrolled. The complications reported by 36 weeks gestation include:

This could be a result of placental abruption, a situation where the placenta separates from the uterine wall before delivery. It can also mean the fetus doesn’t get enough oxygen. There are other reasons for haemorrhaging after delivery.

This mostly includes urinary tract infections that risk affecting the liver and causing a miscarriage. After delivery, the woman could be infected with Group B strep; Hepatitis or bacterial vaginosis. The symptoms include: fishy smelly discharge, burning urination, nausea, etc.

Also known as toxemia, it occurs in a pregnant woman after her 20th week of pregnancy. It then results in high blood pressure and problems with the kidneys and other organs. Symptoms include sudden increase in blood pressure, too much protein in the urine, swelling in a woman’s face and hands, and headache.

Too high blood sugar levels during pregnancy. Usually, there are no symptoms. Sometimes, the woman will experience extreme thirst, hunger, or fatigue. A screening test will reveal the high sugar levels.

This is when a fertilized egg implants outside of the uterus, usually in the fallopian tube. Symptoms are: abdominal pain, shoulder pain, vaginal bleeding and dizziness.

When the pregnant woman has a lower than normal number of healthy red blood cells. Some symptoms are weakness, pale skin, dizziness and shortness of breath.

In Africa several women try to abort their pregnancies through unsafe means, some of which are unconventional. The result is a problem or several health problems that may even lead to loss of life.

Some women go into labour before 37 weeks of pregnancy for a number of reasons including leaking amniotic fluid, and stress. Increased vaginal discharge; pelvic pressure and cramping; back pain radiating to the abdomen and contractions are some symptoms.

Africans engage in teen marriages for several reasons related to culture and tradition. As a result, the continent has the highest number of teenage mothers and teenage pregnancies in the world. Many pregnancy complications are because the woman is too young.

The remainder are caused by or associated with diseases such as malaria, and AIDS during pregnancy.

  1.  Poverty
  2. Distance from quality healthcare
  3. Lack of information
  4. Inadequate services
  5. Cultural practices.

To improve maternal health, barriers that limit access to quality maternal health services must be identified and addressed at all levels of the health system.

It is particularly important that all births are attended by skilled health professionals, as timely management and treatment can make the difference between life and death for both the mother and the baby.

To avoid maternal deaths, it is also vital to prevent unwanted and too-early pregnancies. All women, including adolescents, need access to contraception. There should also be safe abortion services to the full extent of the law, and quality post-abortion care.