Complications During Pregnancy
Pregnancy is an exciting time for any women, but complications may develop sometimes even in healthy women. Early pregnancy complications are the health problems that occur during the early period or first few months (first trimester) of pregnancy. Complications that occur early in pregnancy may increase the risk to both you and your baby. Most pregnancy complications can easily be detected and prevented with routine prenatal care.
What are the Complications Caused during Pregnancy?
The first trimester (first three months) is the most critical time in a pregnancy because all the major organs of your baby develop during this period. Some of the common complications during early pregnancy include:
Nausea, also known as morning sickness, is a sensation of uneasiness and discomfort often accompanied with the urge to vomit. The high level of progesterone hormone during pregnancy can slow down the digestive tract, causing nausea. Eating frequent light meals, avoiding spicy and greasy foods and drinking plenty of water or fluids can help reduce nausea and vomiting.
Vaginal bleeding or spotting is a common problem that can occur during the first trimester of pregnancy. In most cases, continuous bleeding without any known cause may lead to impending abortion. The causes of bleeding include erosion of the inner lining of the cervix due to oestrogen, infection of the vagina or cervix, or an abortion.
After an episode of bleeding, your physician examines the foetal health with the help of blood tests for hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) and progesterone levels, and an ultrasonography test. Treatment of bleeding includes adequate bed rest, eating a healthy and nutritious diet, folic acid supplementation and hormonal therapy.
Vomiting (hyperemesis gravidarum)
Hyperemesis gravidarum is a condition of excessive vomiting during pregnancy. Vomiting is a common complaint during pregnancy; but persistent, frequent and severe vomiting can affect the health of both you and your baby, if left untreated.
Vomiting in pregnancy may occur due to
- Increased β-hcg and oestrogen levels
- Multiple pregnancies (women carrying multiple babies)
- Molar pregnancy (abnormal placenta/foetus)
Diagnosis includes observation of findings from electrolytes test, hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) and an ultrasonography test. Treatment of vomiting during pregnancy (hyperemesis gravidarum) includes adequate bed rest and medications such as antacids and antiemetic (dicyclomine). Your physician may also advise you to drink plenty of fluids to replace the lost fluids. Pregnant women who have severe vomiting may require hospitalization with intravenous fluids and supplementation.
The spontaneous loss or termination of pregnancy before the 20th week is referred to as a miscarriage or abortion. It is also known as spontaneous abortion or early pregnancy loss. Most miscarriages occur during the first three months of pregnancy (first trimester). The chances of miscarriage are higher during the first trimester because of the incompletely developed organ systems. Most miscarriages occur due to chromosomal abnormalities in the fertilised egg.
Vaginal bleeding, cramps or abdominal pain, and fluid or tissue discharge from your vagina are the signs that indicate miscarriage. Miscarriages often cannot be prevented in most cases and treatment requires complete removal of pregnancy tissue from the uterus.
Ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy that occurs not in the usual place within the uterus (womb) but develops outside the uterus. The most common place that ectopic pregnancy occurs is in the fallopian tube or rarely outside the uterus (cervix, ovary or abdominal cavity). Infection in the uterus (pelvic inflammatory disease), previous ectopic pregnancy, and previous pelvic surgery are the common causes of ectopic pregnancy. Vaginal bleeding, sharp or cramping pain in the stomach and abdomen, and low levels of hCG are the usual symptoms of ectopic pregnancy.
Treatment includes medications to stop the growth of the embryo. These medications are helpful in dissolving the fertilised egg. Ectopic pregnancy can result in the rupture of the fallopian tube and is a life-threatening medical emergency. In such cases, surgical intervention may also be necessary.
The abnormal growth or development of placental cells in the embryo is known as molar pregnancy. It is also referred to as gestational trophoblastic disease (GTD). Molar pregnancy is caused by chromosomal abnormalities in the sperm, egg or both.
Vaginal bleeding, absence of foetal heart tone, high hCG levels, and presence of grape-like clusters in the uterus seen by an ultrasound are the common signs of molar pregnancy. Treatment includes removal of the abnormal placenta.
The other possible complications during the early stages of pregnancy may include
- Tender breasts
- Frequent urination or urinary tract infection
- Heart burn
- Lack of hunger or unnatural food cravings
- Mood swings
Always contact your doctor if you have any concerns during your pregnancy.