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Ectopic Pregnancy & Other Pregnancy Complications

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Every woman wants a healthy pregnancy and a trouble-free delivery.

However, there are a number of potential complications that affect many women, from the earliest weeks after conception all the way up to their due dates. It’s important to see your doctor regularly and report any discomfort or unusual symptoms.

Here are some of the most common pregnancy complications you’ll want to be aware of.

Ectopic Pregnancy

Also called a tubal pregnancy, this happens when the fertilized egg implants outside of the uterus. It occurs in about 1 in 50 pregnancies, usually in the fallopian tube.

Left undetected, an ectopic pregnancy can rupture your fallopian tube and cause internal bleeding. Immediate treatment is needed to avoid life-threatening complications from this disorder.

An ultrasound at Mosaic Pregnancy & Health Centers can check for the presence of a baby inside the uterus.

Miscarriage

Miscarriage is defined as the natural loss of a pregnancy during the first 20 weeks after conception.

As many as 25% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, and about 80% of miscarriages occur in the first 12 weeks. It estimated that 50-70% of first trimester miscarriages are caused by chromosomal abnormalities that prevent the baby from developing normally. Here are a few other potential causes of a miscarriage:

  • Failure of the egg to implant in the uterus properly
  • Structural defects that prevent the embryo from developing
  • Blighted ovum -- fertilized egg implants in your uterus but the embryo either stops developing or doesn’t develop at all

The following are some common miscarriage symptoms:

  • Vaginal spotting or bleeding
  • Cramping
  • Fluid or tissue passing through the vagina

Keep in mind that not all vaginal bleeding during pregnancy indicates a miscarriage. Contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms to identify the cause.

Stillbirth

Stillbirth is the loss of a pregnancy after 20 weeks.

There are several potential risk factors that a child will be stillborn:

  • Chromosomal abnormalities
  • Placental problems
  • Poor fetal growth
  • Chronic health conditions affecting mom
  • Infections

Good prenatal care and management of chronic conditions is essential for reducing the risk of stillbirth.

Preterm Labor and Delivery

About 12% of babies in the United States are born premature, which means they arrive before 37 weeks of pregnancy.

The final weeks of pregnancy are a critical time for lung and brain development, so a premature baby will face a greater risk of health problems throughout his or her life.

Women at risk of a preterm birth may be treated with the hormone progesterone. Risk factors include various infections, a shortened cervix and previous preterm births.

Preeclampsia

A potentially dangerous condition characterized by high blood pressure, preeclampsia affects about 5% of pregnant women.

High blood pressure interferes with blood reaching the placenta, depriving your baby of the oxygen and nutrients he or she needs for development.

Signs of preeclampsia include elevated blood pressure, protein in the urine and kidney or liver abnormalities. It can cause organ damage and preterm delivery.

There are several factors that can raise a woman’s risk of preeclampsia:

  • First pregnancies
  • Preeclampsia in a previous pregnancy
  • Pre-existing conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease or systemic lupus erythematosus
  • Being age 35 or older
  • Carrying two or more babies
  • Obesity

Gestational Diabetes

Even if you don’t already have diabetes, hormonal changes during pregnancy can cause your body to either stop making insulin or fail to use it properly. It affects about 2-10% of pregnant moms in the United States.

This results in a temporary form of diabetes during pregnancy that usually goes away after you give birth. Your doctor will check your blood sugar during prenatal visits, and give you a plan for controlling the condition should it appear.

Uncontrolled gestational diabetes can increase your risk of high blood pressure, preeclampsia and Caesarean delivery. It also increases your risk of developing Type II diabetes later in life, so you’ll want to continue following a healthy diet and exercise plan after you have your baby.

Infections

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and other types of infection may lead to problems for mom and baby.

Some pass from mother to child during delivery, while others infect the baby during pregnancy.

There are several possible complications that can be caused by infections during pregnancy:

  • Miscarriage
  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Preterm labor
  • Low birth weight
  • Birth defects including blindness, deafness, bone deformities, and intellectual disabilities
  • Stillbirth
  • Neonatal illness
  • Infant mortality
  • Maternal health complications

It is important to get tested for STIs early in your pregnancy -- the sooner you get treatment the lower the risk to you and your baby. Mosaic Pregnancy & Health Centers offer free testing for chlamydia and gonorrhea.

Iron Deficiency

Your body needs more iron during pregnancy, and iron deficiency can cause low birth weight and preterm birth weight.

Signs that you aren’t getting enough iron include tiredness, fainting and shortness of breath. Your doctor may screen you for iron deficiency and have you take iron supplements.

Placenta Previa

Sometimes the placenta forms abnormally low in the uterus.

This can lead to bleeding and other complications late in your pregnancy, which may require a preterm and/or c-section delivery.

How Can You Have a Healthy Pregnancy?

It’s essential to get regular prenatal care throughout your pregnancy.

If you develop any complications, early detection and treatment are key to reduce the risk to you and your baby, and to promote recovery. Contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Excessive nausea or vomiting
  • Fever
  • Vaginal discharge or itching
  • Pain or burning during urination
  • Leg or calf pain and swelling, especially on one side

Also let your doctor know if you have any chronic conditions that predate your pregnancy, such as thyroid problems, Type I or II diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma or lupus.

Successful management of these conditions will increase your odds of a healthy outcome for you and your baby.

If you have questions about your pregnancy or would like a referral to local health care providers, contact Mosaic PHC today.

We’re here to listen to your concerns and provide the support you need during your pregnancy.