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Louisiana Department of Health & Hospitals | Kathy Kliebert, Secretary

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Statewide Initiatives



211 - Get Connected. Get Answers.

Pregnancy Risks

Although every pregnancy has some risk of problems, continuing a pregnancy and delivering a baby is usually a safe, healthy process. Based on data from the CDC, the risk of dying as a direct result of pregnancy and childbirth is less than 10 in 100,000 live births. At 22 in 100,000, the risk is higher for African-Americans.

One out of 8,475 women dies from pregnancy complications. The most common causes of death for pregnant women are:

  • Emboli (blood clots affecting the heart and brain);
  • Eclampsia (high blood pressure complications affecting pregnancy);
  • Heavy bleeding (Hemorrhaging);
  • Sepsis (severe infection);
  • Cerebral vascular accidents (stroke, bleeding in the brain); and
  • Anesthesia-related deaths.

Altogether, these causes account for 80 percent of all deaths relating to a woman’s pregnancy. Unknown or uncommon causes account for the remaining 20 percent of deaths related to pregnancy. Women who have chronic severe diseases are at greater risk of death than healthy women.

Continuing your pregnancy also includes a risk of experiencing complications that are not always life-threatening.

  • Approximately 15 to 20 of every 100 pregnant women require Caesarean delivery (C-section).
  • One in 10 women may develop infection during or after delivery.
  • About one in 20 pregnant women has blood pressure problems.
  • One in 20 women suffer from excessive blood loss at delivery.

Labor is when a pregnant woman’s uterus contracts and pushes or delivers the baby from her body. The baby may be delivered through the woman’s vagina or by cesarean section. A Cesarean section is a surgical procedure.

The following are possible side effects and risks associated with vaginal delivery:

  • Injury to the bladder or rectum;
  • A hole (fistula) between the bladder and vagina or the rectum and vagina;
  • Heavy bleeding (hemorrhaging);
  • Inability to get pregnant in the future due to infection or complication from an operation;
  • Emergency treatment for any of the above problems, including the possible need to treat with an operation, medicines or blood transfusion; and
  • Rarely, death.

The following are possible side effects and risks associated with Cesarean delivery (C-section):

  • Injury to the bowel or bladder;
  • Inability to get pregnant in the future due to infection or complication from an operation;
  • Heavy bleeding (hemorrhaging);
  • Injury to the tube (ureter) between the kidney and bladder;
  • A possible hysterectomy as a result of complication or injury during the procedure;
  • Complications from anesthesia such as respiratory problems, headaches or drug reactions;
  • Emergency treatment for any of the above problems, including the possible need to treat with an operation, medicines or a blood transfusion; and
  • Rarely, death.

Emotional Reactions

After the birth of a baby, women often feel a number of powerful emotions. Many new moms experience baby blues following childbirth, which commonly include mood swings and crying spells. Typically, the symptoms of baby blues fade quickly, within a few days or weeks. Most women find that the best treatment for baby blue is reassurance, support from family and friends, rest and time.

Some new moms experience a more severe, long-lasting form of depression known as postpartum depression. At first, postpartum depression may feel a lot like baby blues, but eventually it interferes with a mother’s ability to care for her baby and handle other daily tasks. The Mayo Clinic recommends calling your doctor if the signs and symptoms of depression:

  • Don’t fade after two weeks;
  • Are getting worse;
  • Make it hard for you to care for your baby;
  • Make it hard to complete everyday tasks; and/or
  • Include thoughts of harming yourself or your baby.