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Complications



No pregnancy is truly easy, but some have more obstacles to overcome than others. Some common complications include:

Early Complications

Ectopic Pregnancy

95% of ectopic pregnancies occur when the egg is fertilized and implanted in the fallopian tubes. This is a very dangerous situation for the mother and unfortunately, the pregnancy must be terminated. Some contributing factors include smoking, advanced maternal age, use of fertility drugs, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, Progestin Contraceptives, Progesterone-bearing IUDs, and pregnancy after tubal ligation. Treatments include drugs and sometimes surgery.

Molar Pregnancy

A molar pregnancy occurs when either two sperm fertilize an egg and/or the egg is genetically defective. You can have either a partial or a full molar pregnancy. With a partial molar pregnancy, a fetus may be present. With a full molar pregnancy, no fetus develops. Grape-like structures grow out from what would be the early placenta. A molar pregnancy is suspected with recurrent bleeding and is later diagnosed through ultrasound. The molar pregnancy must be evacuated and you would have to be monitored for one year before getting pregnant again, in case the tissue turns into a choriocarcinoma, a rare form of cancer. The risk of future molar pregnancies is only about 1%-2%.

Later Complications

Partial or Full Placenta Previa

Occurs when the placenta attaches itself to the bottom portion of the uterus, covering the cervical opening. In most cases, the placenta attachment will move up and out of the way as your uterus grows. If you still have the Previa at the end of your pregnancy, this could cause heavy bleeding. Your doctor will perform a C-section if this is the case.

Short or Incompetent Cervix

If you are told by your doctor that you have a short or incompetent cervix, this could cause preterm labor. Treatments include stitching your cervix to prevent dilation or giving you medicine to prevent preterm contractions. If you are experiencing early dilation or contractions, you will most likely be confined to bed rest.

Gestational Diabetes

You should be screened for Gestational Diabetes between your 24th and 28th week. If you do not pass your three hour second-level glucose test, you will be considered to have Gestational Diabetes. You will be placed on a diabetic diet and will be required to monitor your blood sugar. If your blood sugar stays under control, no further treatment is needed. Some women may need insulin injections.

Pre-eclampsia and Eclampsia

Symptoms of pre-eclampsia usually occur after the 20th week of pregnancy. Your face and hands will appear swollen and you may experience a sudden weight gain. Pre-eclampsia is a serious pregnancy disease and the only cure is delivery of the baby; however, mild pre-eclampsia can often be treated by bed rest. Medical symptoms include hypertension and protein in the urine. Eclampsia is the advanced stage of the disease and is life threatening. Delivery of the baby should occur before you experience Eclampsia.

Placental Abruptions

Placental abruptions or separations occur when the placenta deteriorates or separates from the uterine wall. This could compromise the baby’s oxygen supply and lead to fetal death. This can also cause you to hemorrhage. If the placenta separation is minimal, doctors will often prescribe bed rest. If the baby is in danger or is deprived of oxygen, your doctor will determine if the lungs are mature enough to deliver. Placental abruptions can happen to any pregnant woman but a past D&C or smoking during pregnancy can contribute.

Breach Baby

When your baby is breach, his or her head has not turned into the head down position for labor. Many babies that are breach will eventually turn head down before delivery. Others will not turn at all. Your doctor may try and manipulate the baby manually by pushing on your uterus at certain points to “turn the baby”. If this doesn’t work, the doctor will most likely perform a C-section.

Other Complications

For more information on these complications and others, please visit the March of Dimes website.

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