Pregnancy Complications

Placenta Previa

Placenta previa is when the placenta -- the temporary organ joining the mother and fetus -- covers part or all of the cervix.
Symptoms of this complication include painless vaginal bleeding during the second or third trimester. In many cases, there are no symptoms.
If placenta previa is diagnosed after the 20th week of pregnancy, but there is no bleeding, cutting back on activity level and increased bed rest is recommended. If bleeding is heavy, hospitalization is required until mother and baby are stable. If the bleeding stops or is light, continued bed rest will be recommended until the baby is ready for delivery. If the bleeding doesn't stop or if pre-term labor starts, the baby will be delivered by cesarean section (c-section).

Placental Abruption

Placental abruption is a pregnancy complication in which the placenta separates from the uterine wall before delivery, depriving the fetus of oxygen.
Symptoms of placental abruption include:
  • Vaginal bleeding during the second half of pregnancy
  • Cramping
  • Abdominal pain
  • Uterine tenderness.
When the separation is minor, bed rest for a few days usually stops the bleeding. Moderate cases may require complete bed rest. Severe cases (when more than half of the placenta separates) can require immediate medical attention and delivery of the baby.

Fetal Distress

If, after 26 weeks of pregnancy, you count fewer than 10 kicks in a day, or if the baby is moving a lot less than usual, see your doctor right away. This may be a symptom of fetal distress.
Fetal distress is diagnosed with a:
  • Nonstress test (NST). This measures the response of the baby's heart rate to each movement the baby makes as reported by mother or seen by a doctor on an ultrasound screen.
  • Contraction stress test. This is usually ordered if the nonstress test shows a problem. It stimulates the uterus to contract using the drug Pitocin® to look at the effect of contractions on the baby's heart rate.
  • Biophysical profile (BPP). This is a combination of the NST and an exam of the baby's breathing, body movement, muscle tone, and amount of amniotic fluid.
Treatment of this complication depends on the results of tests. If a test suggests a problem, this does not always mean the baby is in trouble. It may only mean that the mother needs special care until the baby is delivered. This can include a wide variety of things (such as bed rest and further monitoring), depending on the mother's condition.
Pregnancy and Pain

Pregnancy Problems

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