What to expect when you’re expecting…
Congratulations, you’re pregnant!
Your body is about to embark on an incredible and transformative journey that can be both exciting and stressful.
Every mother’s experience is different so when your body starts going through the many changes of pregnancy, it can be difficult to distinguish between what is “normal” and what should be a cause for concern. Early pregnancy in particular can be a little unpredictable. Your pregnancy could seem like it is developing normally but results in a miscarriage several weeks later, or you may experience some concerning symptoms and still go on to have a perfectly healthy baby. Some lucky mothers may find that their first trimester progresses without any incident at all.
The list below covers some of the more common early pregnancy complications that you should be aware of. As you keep reading, bear in mind that your experience is entirely personal. Just because you are showing one symptom, does not mean that you or your baby are in any danger. Instead, pay attention to your body and consult with an OBGYN whenever necessary. Your OBGYN can consider you and your family’s medical history and provide you with advice on your unique situation.
Miscarriage is incredibly common. Queensland Health reports that 25% of pregnancies result in miscarriage – most of which occur in the first trimester.
Symptoms are not always present but the two most common ones are vaginal bleeding and cramps in the lower pelvis. If you are having a miscarriage, you are likely to experience heavy bleeding for a couple of days and then lighter bleeding for the rest of the week.
Miscarriage occurs because a foetus is not developing properly in the uterus, but this is not a reflection of your overall likelihood of having a baby. A baby’s development in the womb is a complex process so it does not always go according to plan.
Hormonal changes and increased blood volume during pregnancy will make a woman more susceptible to blood clots than pre-pregnancy. Blood clots during pregnancy are most likely to occur in the deep veins in the leg or pelvic region (Deep Vein Thrombosis). Deep vein thrombosis can also lead to pulmonary embolism if part of the clot breaks off and is carried into the lungs. Watch out for deep pain in the legs and swelling in the calf.
Blood clots are quite easy to treat but should always be addressed as soon as possible to avoid any harm to the health of you or your baby.
One of the unfortunate hallmarks of the first trimester for expecting mothers is morning sickness. Nausea and vomiting are very normal but they do increase the risk of dehydration. Be especially careful to stay hydrated if you experience excessive nausea and vomiting.
If you struggle to keep your fluids down for an extended length of time, make sure to see a doctor. You may need an alternative way of rehydrating or medication to reduce nausea.
An ectopic pregnancy occurs when an egg is fertilised but, for whatever reason, it is unable to make its way from through the fallopian tube to the uterus. Stuck inside the fallopian tube, the egg may not develop properly. This can go one of two ways: either it will shrink and miscarry, or it will continue to grow with a risk of damaging your fallopian tubes.
Ectopic pregnancies are not very common, and only occur in 1-2% of pregnancies. The symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy include pelvic pain, severe pain on one side of the abdomen, and abnormal bleeding. Most ectopic pregnancies resolve themselves through a miscarriage but if they don’t it can be quite dangerous so make sure you see your OBGYN immediately if you experience these symptoms.
When you read about the common complications that can occur in your first trimester, it can be overwhelming and scary but the key takeaway should be to take care of your health. It is important to seek professional advice from the start of your pregnancy journey. Regularly consultations with your OBGYN will allow them to monitor the progress of your pregnancy and help you navigate through any complications or unexpected changes.
As an experienced obstetrician and gynaecologist, Dr Joseph Jabbour is your specialist support through the pregnancy journey – providing you with professional advice and compassionate care.
He offers private consultations for obstetrics, fertility, and gynaecology at the Sunnybank Centre for Women and The Wesley Hospital in Brisbane, and has admission rights to Sunnybank Private Hospital, Greenslopes Private Hospital, and the Mater Brisbane.