Complications in Pregnancy

The following is an alphabetical list of complications or symptoms common in pregnancy.

Anaemia is a fancy word for lack of red blood cells. Since red blood cells are responsible for passing oxygen through your body, anaemia should not be taken lightly.

Symptoms include... tiredness, pale appearance, and heart palpitations. Other symptoms include chest pain, headaches, breathlessness, and dizziness.

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
DVT is also known simply as a blood clot which occur inside of veins. While this does not effect pregnant women alone, the risks are increased due to the doubling and tripling of blood volume.

Symptoms include... Painful swelling of the calves.

Diabetes, Gestational
Affecting roughly 4% of all pregnant women, gestational diabetes is a condition in which the body cannot produce or use enough insulin to allow glucose to leave the blood stream. A build up of glucose in the blood is referred to as hyperglycemia.

Unfortunately, not many women experience any symptoms of gestational diabetes. If you have a family history of diabetes or gestational diabetes, or if you have had a previous pregnancy and experienced gestational diabetes, your doctor will send you for blood tests between 24 and 28 weeks.

Symptoms include... Increased thirst, increased urination, and increased hunger; however, most of those symptoms are common among pregnant women.

Ectopic Pregnancy
An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg implants itself into the walls of a fallopian instead of the lining of the uterus.

When not found in time, an ecoptic pregnancy can cause the fallopian tube to burst, which can then lead to internal bleeding and possibly the death of the mother.

Ectopic pregnancies only happen with one out of every 50 pregnancies and can sometimes terminate on their own - do not trust that possibility; if you think you have an ectopic pregnancy, contact your doctor immediately.

Symptoms include... mild to moderate pain in your lower pelvis or abdomen, usually concentrated on one side of the abdomen. Vaginal spotting or bleeding, pain that increases with activity, bowel movement, or while coughing. Shoulder pain that is more noticeable while laying down, a feeling of weakness, a racing heart beat, dizziness or fainting, clammy hands, and/or a pale appearance.

HELLP syndrome
HELLP is a combination of many ailments and is a complication arising from preeclampsia. The condition consists mainly of Hemolytic anemia (breaking of red blood cells and discharging of hemoglobin in surrounding fluid), Elevated Liver enzymes, and Low Platelet count - collectively abbreviated, the conditions make up "HELLP".

Symptoms include... headaches, blurred vision, nausea, general feeling of tiredness or sickness, pain around the upper abdomen, swelling (Oedema), and a tingling sensation in the limbs.

Hemorrhoids are an embarrassing part of most women's pregnancy. The pressure of her new stomach, increased constipation, and straining during a bowl movement all contribute to the infliction of a hemorrhoid.

A hemorrhoid is mainly a varicose (swollen) vein that occurs in the rectal area. The vein can become inflamed and cause itchiness as well as pain. Hemorrhoids can become so severe that the rectal wall will swell up and the hemorrhoid can be felt externally. Men (or women), when your partner has these horrible things, don't laugh - they hurt and are a royal pain in the butt... Seriously!

Hyperemesis Gravidarium (HG)
Hypermesis gravidarium - also known as hypermesis gravidarum - is very uncommon and only occurs in roughly 0.3% of all pregnancies.

Morning sickness is something that haunts 50-80% of all pregnant women. HG is a very severe form of morning sickness that is debilitating, life-altering, and life-threatening if left untreated.

Symptoms include... sudden and severe weight loss (more than just a few pounds), severe nausea or nausea that lasts most or all day, throwing up more than 3 times per day, inability to keep food and fluids down, ketosis (blood in the urine), dehydration, extreme fatigue, vomiting mucus, bile, or blood, etc.

A miscarriage is the loss of the baby before 20 weeks of a pregnancy.

Unfortunately, not a lot is known about the causes or prevention of miscarriages.

In most cases, a miscarriage will be the result of an unhealthy fetus or embryo - one that would not survive past a certain stage in the pregnancy.

A miscarriage can be caused by an incompetent cervix; however, loss of a baby due to an incompetent cervix usually occurs mid-pregnancy at which point, it is known as a still birth.

  • Roughly 20% of pregnancies will end in a miscarriage
  • 75% of those will occur within the first 2 weeks - before you realize that you are pregnant
  • 15% will occur between weeks 3 through 12
  • The other 10 percent will occur between weeks 12 and 20

Fortunately that leaves you with an 80% chance of not experiencing a miscarriage.

Symptoms include... Strong cramps that are so intense that you may double over in pain, bleeding that causes you to soak through one or more pads within two hours, passing of blood clots, passing pink or grayish masses, a negative pregnancy test after taking a positive test, sudden loss of pregnancy symptoms (not absence of pregnancy symptoms, but loss of pre-existing symptoms).

Obstetric Cholestasis (OC) / Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy (ICP)
OC effects the liver by reducing the flow of bile from your liver through your bile ducts and into your intestines. The reduction of the bile's flow can result in bile salts building up in your blood stream.

Less than one percent of women will suffer from this condition and is more prominent in women whose family members have suffered from OC during their pregnancies.

Symptoms include... itching - usually beginning in the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet and gradually becomes generalized. The itching can be so severe that the affected woman may scratch until blood is drawn. Fatigue and insomnia can result from OC and in very rare cases, women may develop Jaundice.

Excess swelling or swelling in organs or tissues caused by an accumulation of fluid, without extra cells being present in the affected area. In pregnancy, Oedema is characteristic of hypertension, high blood pressure, and preeclampsia. Swelling in the ankles and feet can be expected and considered normal, but excess swelling or swelling of the face as well as the feet is a warning sign.
Usually occurring in the late second trimester and third trimester, preeclampsia is rapidly progressive and causes high blood pressure and protein in the urine.

Symptoms include... sudden swelling of the face and feet, rapid weight gain, headaches, changes or blurriness of vision, and moderate dizziness.

Some women may not experience many symptoms of the condition.

Although they are not exactly the same condition, the terms Pregnancy-Induced Hypertension (PIH), Toxemia, and Gestational Hypertension are used interchangeably by health care providers.

If you have experienced any symptoms that are characteristic of the above mentioned pregnancy complications, please call your doctor immediately!

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