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Physiological changes of normal pregnancy 

Physiological changes of normal pregnancy
Physiological changes of normal pregnancy

David J. Williams

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date: 07 March 2021

Almost every maternal organ system makes a physiological adaptation to pregnancy for optimal pregnancy outcome. An understanding of these adaptations brings insight into the aetiology of gestational syndromes and helps the clinician to manage pregnant women with pre-existing chronic illness. Physiological adaptations in pregnancy include: (1) cardiovascular—cardiac output increases by 30–40%; (2) respiratory—oxygen consumption increases by 20%; and (3) renal—glomerular filtration rate increases by 55%. Biochemical and endocrine changes in pregnancy include altered normal ranges for many important metabolic and endocrine laboratory tests, among other implications. Awareness of these changes is essential, both for recognition of disease in pregnancy and to prevent inappropriate pursuit of test results that are normal in pregnancy. Long-term implications of pregnancy syndromes, such as pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes mellitus for example, can be considered exaggerated responses to pregnancy that resolve after childbirth, but herald hypertension and diabetes mellitus in later life.

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