Written by Mr Richard Sheridan for Doctify
Pregnancy is a miraculous thing. It can also be terrifying, especially if it’s your first. What is normal? When should I be worried? Am I doing this right? These are all common concerns of expecting mothers.
Here to allay some of those doubts and fears and to offer guidance is Consultant Gynaecologist and Obstetrician, Mr Richard Sheridan.
What are some of the most common early pregnancy complications?
Some of the commonest complications in early pregnancy are:
- vaginal bleeding
- vaginal discharge
- excessive burning and symptoms of urinary tract infections
- leg or calf pain
- a worsening of chronic conditions
Bleeding in early pregnancy is not uncommon. It can happen at the time a period was due, for the first few months. However, it can also be a sign of miscarriage or threatened miscarriage.
Red bleeding is slightly more concerning than brown bleeding. However, little bits of bleeding with pains that don’t last are generally not of concern. Obviously, if bleeding is persistent or pain is present, then medical attention should be sought to exclude a pregnancy that may be miscarrying, or normally between 6 and 8 weeks, an ectopic pregnancy.
Painless bleeding is much less likely to be a problem and an ultrasound normally confirms wellbeing of the foetus after 6 weeks.
A clear odourless discharge is quite common in pregnancy. Sexually transmitted diseases can happen in pregnancy and Thrush is not of a concern to the baby if it happens in pregnancy. However, it is generally best treated with vaginal treatments as, in the first few weeks of pregnancy, oral treatments are not recommended.
We know that pregnancies are slightly more likely to fail in the presence of intercurrent infection. If you develop a high fever or rash in pregnancy, it should be checked by the GP to exclude certain viral conditions which could affect the baby.
Vomiting in pregnancy is quite normal, but if it is severe then it is possible to become dehydrated and if you are dehydrated your nausea and vomiting often worsens and it becomes a vicious circle.
There are certain anti-vomiting drugs that can be used in pregnancy, but it is very important to keep hydrated. If nothing is kept down you should seek medical attention as you may need rehydrating intravenously depending upon the results of a urine sample. The urine sample tests for something called ketones, which are a product of fat, rather than carbohydrate breakdown.
It is important to eat little and often in pregnancy if you are nauseous, or to try and eat and drink at times when you don’t feel nauseous.
Urinary tract infections are common in pregnancy and it is important before you are given antibiotics. If there is some doubt, you should have a urine sample sent to the laboratory.
Leg and calf pain, which can be associated with deep vein thrombosis, is not very common in the first stages of pregnancy. However, as the pregnancy progresses and the legs become swollen and there is a pelvic lump, i.e. the uterus growing, this compresses the blood vessels in the leg.
Some medical diseases can change in pregnancy; the dose of Thyroxine for women who have an underactive thyroid can change significantly in pregnancy. This is also the case for pre-existing diabetes and pre-existing problems with blood pressure.
Who is most likely to have a high risk pregnancy?
The people most likely to have a high risk pregnancy are those who are unfit, overweight and women over the age of 40. Therefore it is very important, before you embark on a pregnancy, to make sure that you are as fit as possible; you have eaten well, you have stopped smoking and excessive drinking. It is also important in early pregnancy to avoid medications that should be avoided at the beginning of pregnancy.
When in your pregnancy should you see a doctor?
With bloods to look for foetal abnormalities now available from 10 weeks, it is important to see your doctor with a view to seeing somebody for booking in your pregnancy by about 8 weeks.
It is often possible to see the foetal heartbeat on ultrasound from 6 weeks and it is preferable for the routine blood tests of pregnancy to be done at around 8 weeks as well.
Sign up at the top of this page to receive our next article to your inbox.
Are you an obstetrician or gynaecologist? Would you like more information about joining Doctify? Please click here.
If anything mentioned here has affected you and you want to know more, you can book an appointment with Mr Sheridan by clicking below.