Early Warning Signs During Pregnancy
During early pregnancy, some women may experience problems, most commonly those related to the pregnancy not attaching or developing correctly. As a result of the higher frequency of problems during the first weeks and months of pregnancy, many women feel stressed about the health of their developing child.
Dr Mandana Master works to support the health of pregnant women throughout pregnancy. Below are the most common concerns women face during early pregnancy. Know what to look out for and how to manage problems if they arise.
One in four women experiences bleeding during early pregnancy, and most continue to give birth to a healthy child. It is important to visit a qualified doctor, such as Dr Mandana Master, to investigate and treat this bleeding, as it is one of the early warning signs during pregnancy.
Usually, health professionals will conduct an ultrasound (provided you are over six weeks pregnant) and various blood tests to inform treatment. If the ultrasound locates a heartbeat, it is very likely that your child will continue to develop healthily. If an ectopic pregnancy is detected, you will receive treatment, and if the start of a miscarriage is identified, you will be informed and supported.
Blood tests provide information regarding pregnancy hormone levels. Slow-rising levels may indicate an ectopic pregnancy and falling levels may indicate a risk of miscarriage. Your doctor will inform you of the results and provide the necessary support and treatment.
Before 20 weeks of pregnancy, as many as one in five women who are aware of their pregnancy may lose their pregnancy; this is a miscarriage. Identifying a treatable cause for miscarriage is difficult in the majority of cases. Studies suggest that approximately 50% of miscarriages occur due to abnormal chromosomes in the embryo, leading to inadequate development of the pregnancy from the beginning. When this happens, a miscarriage is the body's natural way of addressing the abnormal embryo, and there is no preventive measure to avoid it.
Symptoms of a miscarriage vary, but some of the most common ones include:
- vaginal bleeding
- cramping and pain in the lower abdomen or back
- loss of pregnancy symptoms
- passing blood clots of tissue from the vagina
Visit a doctor if you start to experience these symptoms.
When you visit a medical professional to assess your miscarriage, they will perform an ultrasound and blood tests which will indicate if your miscarriage is complete, incomplete or missed.
- Complete miscarriage– All pregnancy tissue has been expelled from the body.
- Incomplete miscarriage– Some pregnancy tissue remains in the uterus. The remaining tissue should pass within days
- Missed miscarriage– The pregnancy has ended, but all the tissue remains in the uterus. The remaining tissue could take three to four weeks to pass.
Dilation and curettage (D&C) or various medications will be recommended if this pregnancy tissue does not naturally exit the body. If you are experiencing heavy bleeding or infection, individual-specific treatment will be administered. It’s important to have your blood tested after having a miscarriage to identify if blood type is a concern for any future pregnancies.
An ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy that develops outside of the uterus, most commonly in the fallopian tube. In Australia, this occurs in approximately 2% of pregnant women. Ectopic pregnancies are dangerous because as the pregnancy grows, it can cause the fallopian tube to rupture, leading to severe internal bleeding and potentially life-threatening complications. While some ectopic pregnancies will naturally miscarry, others require targeted treatment.
Symptoms of ectopic pregnancy include severe abdominal pain, vaginal bleeding, and shoulder tip pain.
Risk factors for ectopic pregnancies:
- In-vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment
- History of pelvic infections / tubal disease
- Fell pregnant while using a progestogen-only pill or IUD
If you have an ectopic pregnancy and any of the following symptoms apply to you, contact your doctor to be assessed as soon as possible.
Treatment for ectopic pregnancy includes keyhole surgery (if you are bleeding internally), medicated injection (for very small ectopic pregnancies when you are not bleeding internally) and the wait-and-see approach if the location of the pregnancy is uncertain. Note: if you use the wait-and-see approach and begin to experience severe pain in the abdomen or shoulder tip, heavier bleeding, or fainting and dizziness, call emergency services for immediate treatment.
Hydatidiform Mole (Molar Pregnancy)
This pregnancy complication is very uncommon, impacting approximately one in 1,200 pregnancies. A molar pregnancy is characterised by the abnormal and rapid growth of part or all of the placenta, which becomes larger than usual and contains several cysts or sacs of fluid. In a complete molar pregnancy, this placenta growth prevents the development of the fertilised egg. In a partial molar pregnancy, the fertilised egg may develop but will be abnormal and not viable beyond three months.
Common signs of pregnancy, such as morning sickness or breast tenderness, may still occur due to the continued production of the pregnancy hormone hCG, often in higher amounts than usual. Often, a molar pregnancy is identified through an ultrasound.
Molar pregnancies are treated by removing the tissue from the uterus followed by serial blood tests to endure resolution.
Throughout early pregnancy, there are a few problems that can occur, and women should be aware of these early warning signs during pregnancy; know what to monitor, and understand their treatment options.
Dr Mandana Master is highly experienced in obstetrics and is passionate about providing quality care and clarity. Ask for a referral to Dr Mandana Master to assess and treat your pregnancy concerns. Friendly, compassionate staff can be contacted at (08) 8364 3642 for queries.