Complications During Pregnancy

By Jana Angeles 

Most pregnancies are smooth sailing, however like life, it has its complications too. In this article, we address all the common complications you can experience during pregnancy and what to do if it happens. Be aware that your doctor or midwife will look out for any drastic changes during your pregnancy and will let you know of these complications using lab tests, physical exams and ultrasounds. As with anything medical related, it’s important you don’t skip out on any appointments and report any symptoms you feel are out of the ordinary.


This is a serious condition affecting about 5% of pregnant women. The diagnosis is made if you have high blood pressure and protein in your urine or liver. In addition, if you’re experiencing any abnormalities in your kidney after 20 weeks, you may have preeclampsia.

If you are showing mild symptoms of preeclampsia near the due date of your birth delivery, the health of you and the baby are fine as long as proper care is given. However, if preeclampsia is not treated as soon as possible, it can quickly progress, affecting many of the body’s organs causing life-threatening problems. In this case, women need to deliver their baby early.

Premature Labour and Birth  

When you start having regular contractions before your 37th week of pregnancy, you are experiencing premature labour. Once a baby is delivered, they are considered premature. Premature babies can experience health problems – some of which can be fatal if they are born too early. The more mature a baby is, the better their health and wellbeing.

Low Amniotic Fluid  

The purpose of your amniotic sac is to create fluid that will provide protection and support in the development of your baby. When the fluid content of the sac becomes low, this is called oligohydramnios. Around 4% of pregnant women experience low amniotic fluid and this usually happens within the third trimester. If this is the case, your doctor or midwife will keep track of your growing baby, ensuring that their development is normal. If you are about to reach the end of your pregnancy, labour will be induced.

Placenta Previa  

In the case of placenta previa, this is when your placenta is unusually low in your uterus and is normally next to or covering your cervix. In the early stages of pregnancy, placenta previa isn’t considered a problem but if the placenta remains dangerously low as the pregnancy progresses, bleeding can occur. This can lead to other complications causing an early birth delivery. During your mid pregnancy ultrasound, your placenta location will be reviewed. However, there is a small percentage of women who have placenta previa midway pregnancy – only 1 in 200 women have it during birth. All women need to undergo a c-section if they have placenta previa.

Gestational Diabetes  

This is a common and serious condition among pregnant women. Between 24 to 28 weeks of pregnancy, women undergo a glucose screening to test for gestational diabetes. If you are diagnosed with this condition, your caregiver will closely monitor your health. With a healthy diet and regular physical activity, most women give birth to healthy babies. However, if the diabetes is poorly managed, the baby’s health can suffer.

Women with gestational diabetes have a 25 to 50 percent chance of getting type 2 diabetes in the future. However, if they end up maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle, their chance of getting it significantly reduces.

Ectopic Pregnancy 

Ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilised egg is implanted outside the uterus. 1 in 50 pregnancies is ectopic and most occur in the fallopian tube. These are known as ‘tubal’ pregnancies.

Early detection of this pregnancy is important as the growing embryo can rupture the fallopian tube, causing internal bleeding that is fatal to the body. Unfortunately, there is no way to transfer the fertilised egg in the uterus so terminating the pregnancy is the only option available.

In summary, pregnancy is a joyous occasion for all expectant mothers but it’s also good to be aware of these complications. Although it can be an unpredictable journey for all of us, try and enjoy the time of your pregnancy and do your best to maintain a healthy lifestyle to increase your chances of delivering a healthy baby.