Often when couples are trying for a baby actually becoming pregnant is at the forefront of their minds and if this is straight forward enough without any setbacks then any further complications may not even be thought about. Once the couple are pregnant the sheer joy may override any other emotion including worry of complications during the pregnancy. While this is absolutely fine as the majority of pregnancy’s go smoothly without any bumps along the way it is still important to be aware of any of the signs that may flag up complication.
Here are some pregnancy complications that could arise:
- Ectopic Pregnancy: this is the name given to a pregnancy when a foetus is developing outside the womb usually in one of the fallopian tubes. In the UK 1 in every 90 pregnancy’s results in ectopic and around 95% of these pregnancies the foetus tries to develop in the fallopian tubes. It effectively is a serious complication as if left undetected can have fatal consequences. The usual signs are pain in the abdominal and pubic area which maybe accompanied by bleeding. Sometimes it is difficult to notice the early signs as they maybe confused with a miscarriage and symptoms can come and go. The pain can be to one side of the abdominal and the bleeding maybe different to a period. If the ectopic pregnancy is not detected early on it can cause the tube to rupture bringing on a ray of new symptoms which should be treated as a medical emergency. The symptoms can include; faint, sweating, diarrhoea or pain when bowels open, internal bleeding which can lead to shock and a pain can occur in the tip of shoulder as the bleeding is affecting other organs. The pregnancy will be removed along with the fallopian tube if damaged.
- Blood Pressure: during pregnancy the body is going through some temporary but significant changes that can have effects on the body. Measuring a pregnant woman’s blood pressure can tell how the body is coping with the pregnancy. It is normal for a pregnant woman’s blood pressure to change during pregnancy due to the increase of the hormone, progesterone. Blood pressure tends to fall in the first two trimesters of pregnancy resulting in the feeling of faintness but will begin to rise again after 24 weeks. The normal blood pressure range is between 110/70 and 120/80 but can vary. Blood pressure is monitored to not only show how the body is coping but to look out for signs of pre-eclampsia especially in the later stage of pregnancy.
- Gestational Diabetes: although gestational diabetes is common affecting about 1 in every 6 pregnant women it is still relatively important to look out for the signs as it can affect both the pregnant woman and the foetus. The body produces insulin to help in using up sugars for energy and store any which is left over. If the body cannot cope with the demand of creating more insulin to break down the sugars gestational diabetes may develop. It doesn’t often have symptoms but if you are feeling more tired than usual, feeling thirsty a lot accompanied by dry mouth, blurred vision and reoccurring infections like thrush contact a doctor or midwife who will need to test you for gestational diabetes. Depending on what area a pregnant woman lives in depends on whether the test is offered or not. If the pregnant women fits into a certain criteria’s such as being overweight the test maybe compulsory. Most women will go on to have healthy baby’s if it is spotted and treated on time if not it can result in the baby being large and complication can arise during delivery.
- Placenta Complications: the placenta is extremely vital in any pregnancy as it is needed until the baby is delivered. The placenta starts to form once the fertilised egg has attached to the womb. If the fertilised egg implants itself lower down the uterus it will mean that the placenta will form lower in the uterus resulting in a lower lying placenta. Often placenta migration can occur when the developing foetus grows and the uterus expands pulling the placenta up and away from the cervix. Early scans usually reveal a low lying placenta but in about 90% of the cases it is corrected afterwards. If the placenta does not move it will become known as placenta praevia and cause complications when it comes to a vaginal delivery if it only moves up slightly. If the cervix is completely blocked by the placenta a c-section will be compulsory at around 38-39 weeks. Placenta praevia can carry further and serious complications especially if it accompanied by bleeding. This should be treated as an emergency as severe bleeding can occur and be fatal to both woman and baby. Placenta accreta can occur if the placenta imbeds into the uterus and does not come away during labour. Vasa praevia is the rarer complication when the blood vessels from the umbilical cord are connected to the membranes covering the cervix. This type of praevia puts the baby most at risk and it must be delivered as a matter of urgency.
- Pre-eclampsia: this is also concerned with the placenta but differs to placenta praevia as this is connected to how well or not so well the placenta is working. Pre-eclampsia causes the reduction of blood flow through the placenta restricting oxygen and nutrients form reaching the baby. The midwife at each antenatal appointment will check for pre-eclampsia by measuring blood pressure and looking for protein in the urine as these are key signs. Other prominent signs are; sudden swelling of face, hands and feet, headache, vomiting, problems with vision and uncomfortable feeling below the ribs. Pre-eclampsia can range from mild to severe and if the latter a hospital stayed is required which may result in the labour being induced or c-section.
It is of the upmost importance to always be aware of signs that may not be connected with a normal pregnancy or if you just having a feeling of being unwell. It’s probably nothing to be concerned about but always better to be sure. For more information go to www.womenshealth.gov.