Early pregnancy symptoms vary from woman to woman. Some are able to experience pregnancy signs and symptoms within days of conception whereas it takes weeks for others to experience even the earliest sign of pregnancy.
Nausea and Vomiting: Many women experience illness in the morning as the early symptom of pregnancy. Though this particular symptom is referred to as morning sickness, some women tend to feel nauseous throughout the day. This early sign of pregnancy can be tackled to some extent by eating small frequent meals. This earliest symptom of pregnancy is at its peak around 8 to 10 weeks when the hormone levels are highest. Hyperemesis gravidarum is a severe form of morning sickness that affects some women and results in dehydration and even hospitalization.
Increased sensitivity: Another early symptom of pregnancy is tenderness in the breasts. Increasing amount of HCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin) hormone is responsible for this symptom. A pregnant woman may find herself highly sensitive to certain aromas and smells. This symptom of pregnancy is also a result of the increasing estrogen in the system. Food aversions and cravings are common when a woman is pregnant. This may manifest itself in the early period of pregnancy or last throughout the pregnancy.
Frequent urination:Since a growing uterus applies pressure on the bladder, there may be a need for frequent urination. This early sign of pregnancy is felt within a week or two of conception.
Fainting or Dizzy spells: Blood pressure may drop on account of the growing fetus compressing the major arteries. HCG levels move from 0 - 250, 000 in a short span of time. This is accompanied by increased amounts of progesterone in the body, which accounts for tiredness and sluggishness when a woman is pregnant.
Mild bleeding: Spotting sometimes can occur when the fertilized egg burrows into the endometrial lining. This pregnancy symptom leads many a woman to believe that they have had their menstrual period. This is referred to as 'implantation bleeding' and is experienced by only few women when they are pregnant.
Heartburn and Constipation: Bowel functions are slowed so as to gain maximum absorption time for vitamins and nutrients. This condition can sometimes last throughout the pregnancy. A swollen uterus along with increasing levels of HCG lead to slower digestion and heartburn is a resultant condition.
Missed period: This is the most obvious and early sign and symptom of pregnancy. This will also coincide with high basal body temperature. A home pregnancy test can be taken to confirm the pregnancy by women if they think they are pregnant. There are rare cases of women even women having their period throughout their pregnancy.
Tubal pregnancy is also known as ectopic pregnancy - a condition where the fertilized egg implants itself in the fallopian tubes or any other tissue outside of the uterus. Tubal pregnancy can be life threatening, if not attended to in time. This is because it can lead to the rupture of the pelvic organ and consequent hemorrhage. It can also affect the woman's ability to become pregnant later.
Since it is impossible to carry a tubal pregnancy to term, it becomes imperative to resort to surgery to remove the products of conception since they cannot develop into a fetus. This is done without damage to fallopian tubes, as far as possible. This can be done with laparoscopy in non-emergency situations. Tubal pregnancy can happen to any woman but there are some causes that can increase the likelihood of such a pregnancy condition. Some of the causes for tubal pregnancy are: Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, endometriosis or tubal scarring. Infection of the fallopian tubes such as gonorrhea or chlamydia can lead to a tubal pregnancy. The risk of ectopic pregnancy is manifold in cases of pregnancy after tubal sterilization. The use of the 'morning after pill' - emergency contraception is often noticed as a cause for tubal pregnancy.
An ectopic pregnancy is usually detected in the first 5 - 10 weeks of pregnancy. Ultrasound tests and hCG levels in the blood can help in identifying an ectopic pregnancy. The rate of increase of hCG in the blood is much slower in the case of an ectopic pregnancy or a potential miscarriage. Lower progesterone levels can also be an indication of likely tubal pregnancy. A woman having a tubal pregnancy will experience lower abdominal pain with cramping. There may be abnormal vaginal bleeding and breast tenderness. Lower back pain is another symptom. Severe bleeding and hemorrhage is the most dangerous symptom of ectopic pregnancy and needs prompt medical attention. If there is an emergency situation, there may be a need for blood transfusion.
High Risk Pregnancy
A woman's medical status, lifestyle or external factors may be the cause for high risk pregnancy. Some complications are unavoidable, while the risk in some others can be minimized by the help of the gynecologist / physician. Many times complications can also occur without any warning signal. Sometimes causes and risk factors can be identified early and suitably treated.
Anemia in pregnancy: Anemia occurs when the red blood cells are too few in the body. This leads to a lowered ability of the red blood cells to carry oxygen. Since the fetus is dependant on the mother's blood anemia can cause poor fetal growth, pre term birth and low birth weight. Anemia of pregnancy, iron deficiency anemia, vitamin B 12 deficiency, anemia due to blood loss, folate deficiency anemia are some of the types of anemia during pregnancy.
Pre term labor: In high risk pregnancies more than 11% of the babies born are pre term. Pre term labor begins before completion of thirty seven weeks of pregnancy. Pre term labor may mean either uterine contractions, rupture of amniotic sac and/or cervical dilatation. Many factors can contribute to pre term labor. Some of the key factors are:
- Maternal factors like preeclampsia, chronic medical illness, infection like urinary tract infections, vaginal infections, drug abuse, abnormal structure of the uterus, cervical incompetence, previous pre term birth.
- Factors involving pregnancy like abnormal or decreased function of the placenta, placenta previa and abruption, premature rupture of membranes
- Factors involving the fetus like behavior of intrauterine environment, multiple gestation and erythrobalstois fetalis which means Rh blood group incompatibility.
Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR): This is a condition in which the fetus is smaller than expected for the number of weeks of pregnancy or there is fetal growth restriction. Newborn babies with IUGR are small for their gestational age. The baby's fetal weight is less than the 10th percentile. The fetus with IUGR may be born at term or prematurely. They appear thin, pale and have loose dry skin. Some have a wide eye look.
IUGR can begin at any time of pregnancy. While early onset of IUGR is due to chromosomal abnormality, late onset is due to other related problems. Although it is not possible to prevent IUGR, it can normally well managed by the doctor.
Generally the earlier and more severe the growth restriction, the greater the risk. Careful monitoring of the fetus growth is needed in all cases of IUGR. This is done by ultrasound and Doppler studies and mother's weight gain monitoring. Other ways to watch the potential high risk is by fetal movement counting, non stress testing, and biophysical profile examination.
Post term pregnancy: In contrast to pre term pregnancy, post term pregnancy lasts for more than forty two weeks. About 7% of babies are born at forty two weeks or later. Such post term pregnancies can cause longer hours of labor and operative delivery. Mothers are at increased risk for vaginal birth trauma due to large baby. Cesarean deliver is likely for post term babies.
Multiple pregnancy: Multiple pregnancy means two or more fetuses. A very small percentage (about 3%) of women experiences multiple pregnancy.
Post partum hemorrhage: This is when excessive bleeding follows the birth of the baby in the mother. About 4% of women have post partum hemorrhage. Immediate medical intervention is required to stop bleeding. Some women with placental abruption and placenta previa are more susceptible for post partum hemorrhage than others.
RH disease: This disease occurs when there is incompatibility between the blood of the mother and the baby. This again is a high risk factor in pregnancy.
Premature rupture of membranes: Premature rupture of membranes means breaking open of the membranes before labor begins, especially before thirty seven weeks of pregnancy. Nearly 10% of pregnancies suffer premature rupture of membranes.
Rupture or membranes is caused by natural weakening of membranes or from force of contractions. Low socioeconomic conditions, sexually transmitted infections, previous pre term birth, vaginal bleeding and cigarette smoking during pregnancy are some of the main causes for premature rupture of membranes. One third of the premature births suffer from premature rupture of membranes.
Gestational diabetes: Diabetes in pregnancy can have serious consequences for the mother and the fetus. The severity of the problem depends upon the degree of the mother's diabetic disease. In the US about 9 % if women have diabetes and one third of them do not know it. 2 to 3% of women develop diabetes during pregnancy called gestational diabetes. Here the mother who does not have diabetes develops a resistance to insulin because of the hormones of pregnancy.