Pregnancy is a nine-month long journey of anticipation and dreams. During this journey, the body undergoes several changes as it makes room for a new life. Most of us hope for an uneventful and pregnancy, but sometimes, certain issues might crop up that pose a problem for the health of the mother and the baby.
Even women who have been previously healthy or have had healthy pregnancies before can develop complications during pregnancy. There are many pregnancy difficulties that might crop at any stage of pregnancy or during delivery. Few problems during pregnancy are common and expecting women must know of these.
Miscarriage or the loss of a pregnancy is one of the most common early pregnancy complications. Most miscarriages, that is about 80%, happen very early on in pregnancy and around 20% happen between week 13 to week 20. Miscarriages usually happen due to a genetic disorder or underlying problem in the mother or the developing foetus. Some symptoms of miscarriage are:
Severe tummy cramps, bleeding or spotting or sudden disappearance of early pregnancy symptoms
Preeclampsia is one of those pregnancy problems that can cause birth complications as well. Preeclampsia happens after the second half of pregnancy and it leads to high blood pressure which can constrict the blood vessels and damage vital organs. The condition might lead to swelling, which is caused by small blood vessels leaking fluid into the body. It also restricts blood flow to the uterus and can cause a dip in the amount of amniotic fluid, poor growth, and placental abruption. There are no major symptoms for this condition except for puffiness under the eyes, hands, and feet and weight gain due to water retention.
Ectopic pregnancy is one of those early pregnancy complications that happens when the zygote (fertilized egg) gets implanted outside the uterus. An ectopic pregnancy cannot survive, and hence must be terminated. Usually, after conception, the zygote travels from the fallopian tubes and divides and re-divides to get implanted into the uterus for further development. If the tubes are blocked or damaged or cannot propel the zygote to the uterus, the pregnancy continues in the fallopian tube. If not detected in time, it results in a ruptured tube and can cause severe internal bleeding and abdominal pain.
Low lying placenta or placenta praevia is when the placenta lies very low in the uterus, blocking the birth passage. The placenta provides nutrition to a developing baby through the umbilical cord and is usually on the side of the uterus. But as the placenta is low in placenta praevia, it can cause bleeding and birth complications. Hence if an expecting mum has placenta praevia, she is likely to undergo a C-section.
Gestational diabetes is one of the most common problems during pregnancy. Like diabetes, it causes a rise in blood sugar levels. Women who otherwise don’t have diabetes might develop gestational diabetes in pregnancy. This condition is undesirable as it can cause unnatural weight gain in the mother and baby. It usually develops in the second trimester and a mother’s sugar levels might normalize once the baby is born. Your doctor will schedule a glucose tolerance test to detect it. Expecting mums with a pregnancy planner can note this test to plan for it.
Infections during pregnancy pose a risk to the growing fetus as the bacteria or virus can be transmitted to the baby from the mother. Usually, a baby is protected by amniotic fluid which keeps her/him safe from illnesses that the mother contracts such as a throat infection or loose motions. But diseases like Toxoplasmosis (which is commonly spread when an expecting mum comes in contact with cat feces), bacterial vaginosis (BV, an infection in the vagina), cytomegalovirus (CMV), group B strep and Urinary tract infections (UTI).
Toxoplasmosis causes vision and hearing loss in babies, bacterial vaginosis leads to preterm and low birth weight babies, group B strep is a deadly infection that can be transmitted during childbirth, CMV that causes hearing and vision loss and UTI can cause pregnancy difficulties like preterm labour.
Low amniotic fluid is one of those complications during pregnancy that can cause fetal abnormalities. The baby is always surrounded by a special fluid in the amniotic sac that protects her/him from shocks and impacts, keeps infections at bay, maintains temperature and prevents the umbilical cord from getting compressed. The amniotic fluid levels keep increasing till the beginning of the third trimester from where it starts decreasing. An ultrasound scan can check the level of amniotic fluid. If the amniotic fluid levels are lesser than 5cm, then the doctor might suggest a treatment for the condition.
From the pregnancy complications list, preterm labour is probably what scares expecting woman the most. Preterm labour happens when the cervix thins out and dilates and an
expecting woman experiences contractions before full-term pregnancy, that is, before 37 weeks. However, not all women might deliver after preterm labour. With proper intervention, women who experience preterm labour deliver after only after full term.
The postnatal blues are often spoken about, but no one talks about depression in pregnancy.
Due to hormonal changes in pregnancy, anxiety, and depression levels are often elevated, causing prolonged feelings of sadness in expecting women. If left untreated, depression during pregnancy can also be dangerous and hamper the mother as well as her growing baby. Most cases of depression are often due to external triggers such as stress, family and relationship issues, abuse and trauma or pregnancy problems.
Most pregnancy difficulties can be handled with the right intervention if detected early. Constant care and monitoring of the mother and her developing baby is the way to keep the pregnancy healthy and happy.