Pregnancy Complications 101

Pregnancy Complications 101

While everyone would like an easy pregnancy that goes smoothly, the fact remains that many women suffer from pregnancy complications.

The problems ( can range from routine complications such as morning sickness and cravings, to serious complications such as ectopic pregnancy and placental abruptio. The routine complications can lead to great discomfort in pregnant women while some of the more serious problems can lead to the death of the baby and the mother if left untreated.According to the World Health Organization, about half a million women die from pregnancy complications each year. About 10 million worldwide suffer some sort of injury or illness as a result of their pregnancies. While the number of women suffering death or injury from pregnancy complications is far smaller in industrialized nations than Third World countries, there still remain a significant number of women who suffer serious adverse health effects from pregnancy each year.

Routine problems of pregnancy are complications that are discomforting, but non-lifethreatening. Nearly every pregnant woman will experience at least one or more of the routine pregnancy complications. Here’s a short list of some of the routine pregnancy complications, and how they’re treated.

  • Back pain: As your body grows and changes to carry the extra weight of a child, it’s expected that you will likely experience some back pain. The severity of this pain varies from pregancy to pregnancy and person to person. Back pain in pregnancy is especially common in the third semester of pregnancy, when your center of gravity has shifted because of the impending birth of your baby. Back pain during pregnancy is commonly treated by having the patient receive gentle massages or engage in mild exercise. Acetaminophen has also been found to be helpful. In some extreme cases, prescription pain killers may be distributed to the patient.
  • Constipation: Some women may find themselves with a “going concern” during pregnancy. The hormone progesterone which is produced at a higher level during pregnancy can act to decrease your bowel motility, thus causing constipation. The common treatments for constipation among pregnant women include eating more fiber foods, taking stool softeners and taking laxatives.
  • Morning sickness: Morning sickness is perhaps one of the most common complications of pregnancy. Morning sickness is characterized by nausea and vomiting in the early hours of the day. It’s caused by a variety of factors including increased hormone production, dehydration and an improved sense of smell that occurs in pregnancy. Morning sickness is treated by increased vitamin B6 intake, snacks, rest and anti-nausea medication.

While the routine complications of pregnancy are generally annoying rather than dangerous, there are quite a few problems that can arise during a pregnancy that can put your life and the life of your child at risk. Some of the more severe complications of pregnancy include:

  • Ectopic pregnancy: This occurs when a fertilized egg latches on somewhere other than the uterus. Most of these types of pregnancy happen in one of the fallopian tubes, thus causing them to sometimes be called tubal pregnancy. Fallopian tubes are ill-suited to contain a growing child and ectopic pregnancies are either miscarried or must be removed for the health of the mother. Treatments for ectopic pregnancy can include removing the fallopian tube in severe cases, laparoscopic surgery and treatment with medication. About 60 percent of women who have  ectopic pregnancy are able to have a normal pregnancy later.
  • Bacterial vaginoisis: This is a pregnancy complication that affects about 10 to 30 percent of all pregnancies. In bacterial vaginosis, there’s an imbalance of the amout of bacteria present in the vagina. This can cause pre-term labor, low birth weight babies or a miscarriage. The condition is characterized by a grayish discharge accompanied by a fishy smell. Treatment includes oral and topical medications.
  • Vaginal bleeding: This can occur quite frequently in the first trimester of pregnancy and likely isn’t the sign of a problem. In later trimesters, however, vaginal bleeding can be the sign of a significant problem or impending miscarriage. In the later trimesters, vaginal bleeding can be a sign of placental displacement or an early labor. If you’re suffering from vaginal bleeding during the second or third trimester of pregnancy, you should seek medical care immediately.
  • Pre-term labor: This occurs when a pregnant woman goes into labor earlier than she should. Women with cervical or uterine abnormalities and women who have had previous pre-term deliveries run an elevated risk of going into pre-term labor. Lifestyle factors such as drug abuse, alcohol abuse and cigarette smoking can also contribute to pre-term labor. Treatment of pre-term labor includes medication and extended bed rest to prevent the child from coming too early.

These are just a few of the complications that can arise in a pregnancy. If you feel unusual pains or other odd symptoms, you should seek the advice of your health care provider as soon as possible. Good communication and cooperation between you and your health care provider can help head off major pregnancy complications and ensure the safety of you and your baby.

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