While most women have normal pregnancies and healthy babies, there are some conditions and complications that can create problems for you and your baby. By understanding the concerns and recognizing the symptoms, you will know when to contact your doctor and what the impact will be on the outcome of your pregnancy.
SPOTTING AND BLEEDING
It is not unusual for you to have slight bleeding or spotting during early pregnancy. You may notice a small amount of bleeding about a week or 10 days after conception. This is implantation bleeding and it occurs when the fertilized egg attaches itself to the wall of the uterus. The episode of bleeding should be quite brief. Some women may also have light bleeding at the time of their regular menstrual period throughout the first six months of their pregnancy, or even longer. Most episodes of bleeding are caused by normal events of pregnancy. However, you should always notify your doctor if you have spotting because it can be a warning sign of other problems with your pregnancy.
If your bleeding is heavy and is accompanied by pain, cramping or fever, or if you notice that you have passed some tissue, you may be experiencing a miscarriage. Also known as a spontaneous abortion, a miscarriage is the loss of a fetus that is less than
28 weeks past conception. It occurs in 15 to 30 percent of all pregnancies, although it often happens so early that many women may not even realize they are pregnant. More than 80 percent of all miscarriages happen in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
The most common cause of miscarriage is an abnormality in the fetus’s chromosomes. This is an error that occurs as the fertilized egg begins to divide and grow. The abnormality prevents the fetus from implanting or developing properly. Chromosome errors that result in miscarriage do not usually indicate a genetic problem. Other causes of miscarriage include defects in the uterus, hormonal imbalances, viral or bacterial infections or chronic diseases, such as diabetes or high blood pressure. You should be aware that the normal activities of daily life, including exercising, lifting heavy objects or having sex will not cause you to miscarry. Nor will a fall or an injury, unless it is very severe.
The main warning sign of a miscarriage is vaginal bleeding. Any type of bleeding may indicate a miscarriage, even if it is quite light, so you should contact your doctor immediately if you begin spotting. Your doctor may suggest bed rest in an attempt to stabilize the pregnancy. However, the miscarriage may continue, despite your best efforts, simply because the fetus does not have the proper chromosomes to survive. During the miscarriage, you will eliminate fetal tissue through your vagina. In some cases, you may need to have a surgical procedure to gently scrape or suction the tissue out of the uterus. If you have a miscarriage, there is very little need to worry about future pregnancies. You have an excellent chance of continuing with other successful pregnancies, even if you have repeated—i.e., more than three—miscarriages.