Early Pregnancy Complications

Pregnancy is an exciting time for any woman but complications may develop sometimes even in healthy women. Early pregnancy complications are health problems that occur during the early period or first few months (first trimester) of pregnancy. Complications that occur early in the pregnancy may increase the risk to both the mother and the baby. Most pregnancy complications can easily be detected and prevented with routine prenatal care.

The first trimester (first three months) is the most critical time in a pregnancy because all the major organs of the baby develop during this period. Some common complications during early pregnancy include:

Bleeding

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 a miscarriage. The causes of bleeding include ectropion of the inner lining of the cervix due to oestrogen, infection of the vagina or cervix, or a miscarriage. After a bleeding episode, your doctor examines the health of the fetus with the help of blood tests for hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) and progesterone levels, and an ultrasound.

Miscarriage

The spontaneous loss of pregnancy before the 24th week is referred to as a miscarriage or early pregnancy loss. The majority of miscarriages occur during the first three months of the pregnancy (first trimester). The chances of miscarriage are higher during the first trimester because of incompletely developed organ systems. Most miscarriages occur due to chromosomal abnormalities.

Vaginal bleeding, cramps or abdominal pain, and fluid or tissue coming from your vagina are 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

Ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy that is 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 (in most cases) 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. Medical treatment may be an option. Ectopic pregnancy can result in rupture of the fallopian tube and is a life threatening medical emergency. In such cases, surgical intervention may also be necessary.

Molar pregnancy

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 fetal heart tone, high hCG levels, and the 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.

Common Other Pregnancy Symptoms

Fatigue, dizziness, tender breasts, frequent urination or urinary tract infection, constipation, heart burn, lack of hunger or unnatural food cravings and mood swings are other possible complications that may be observed during the early stages of pregnancy. Always contact your doctor if you have any concerns during your pregnancy.

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