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Pregnancy Complications Explained

Pregnancy Complications Explained

Pregnancy Complications Explained

The happy news of your new pregnancy may also be tinged with a level of uncertainty of what lays ahead. While a smooth pregnancy is everything a mother-to-be hopes for, it’s wise to also equip yourself with the knowledge of potential pregnancy complications so you can recognise symptoms and cope if the unexpected should happen.

Threatened Miscarriage

As many as 25% of pregnant women have experienced the common pregnancy complication of threatened miscarriage in their first trimester. There are a number of factors contributing to this, but studies have shown that being too physically active can lead to womb contractions, resulting in vaginal bleeding. However, about 3 in 4 women who experience this will still be able to give birth to healthy babies despite the bleeding.

Complications with Placenta

Some pregnant women are diagnosed with a low-lying placenta in their Week-20 scan but if the placenta hasn’t moved away from the cervix by the third trimester, this is known as placenta praevia. This condition could result in severe vaginal bleeding which may be life-threatening to mother and child. A caesarean (C-section) will be required to deliver the baby. Placental abruption happens when the placenta detaches from the womb prematurely. The mother will experience painful bleeding and an emergency C-section may be required as a life-saving procedure.


High blood pressure and protein in the urine are two early signs of pre-eclampsia, which will be picked up by your obstetrician in routine checks. Women aged over 35 or those who have diabetes, hypertension or kidney disease before pregnancy have a higher risk of this condition. They will need to be closely monitored; in an emergency situation, an induced labour or a C-section may be required.

Gestational Diabetes

An elevated blood sugar level arising from inadequate amounts of insulin produced during pregnancy is called gestational diabetes. If left untreated, the foetus can grow to over 4 kilograms, which may cause a difficult delivery. Preterm birth and fatal abnormalities are all risks associated with uncontrolled diabetes. Mothers who have been diagnosed should monitor their diet strictly to limit the intake of simple sugars.

Premature Birth

Delivering your baby before reaching Week 37 is considered premature. The baby may not have time to fully develop its vital organs and may need to stay in the intensive care unit for a while. A premature birth may be planned to ensure the safety of both mother and baby, or it could be spontaneous where the mother experiences contractions or her waters break prematurely.

The above list of common pregnancy complications is not exhaustive, so it’s important to keep your doctor informed of any unusual symptoms you may experience. In addition, make sure to go to every antenatal appointment so any potential issues can be spotted early.

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MBBS (S'pore), M.Med(O&G) (S'pore) Head & Senior Consultant Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology KK Women's and Children's Hospital Director (Clinical), Office of Patient Experience Deputy Director (Education), KKH Campus Associate Professor Duke - NUS Graduate Medical School Singapore

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