Ectopic pregnancies, miscarriages, neural tube defects, listeriosis and toxoplasmosis are the most common complications that can occur during pregnancy.
Pregnancy is first and foremost a unique and positive experience for soon-to-be parents. Expecting mothers generally do not experience any major problems, and potential complications can be prevented by having regular check-ups throughout the entire nine months. Even high-risk pregnancies (this includes women over the age of 35, women who have already had a miscarriage, multiple-child pregnancies, etc.) usually go smoothly thanks to developments in modern medicine.
However, it is still a good idea to find out about the possible complications that may occur:
An ectopic pregnancy (extrauterine or tubal pregnancy) occurs when the fertilised egg transplants itself in the fallopian tube or somewhere else in the reproductive organs instead of in the womb. An ectopic pregnancy must be terminated using medication or keyhole surgery (laparoscopy), because in most cases the embryo is unable to develop. If it is not diagnosed early, the growing embryo can damage the surrounding tissue and may lead to dangerous haemorrhaging.
A miscarriage that takes place in the very early stage of pregnancy might be mistaken for normal menstruation and can therefore go unnoticed. The causes of early miscarriages are usually unknown. The more advanced the pregnancy, the lower the risk of a miscarriage. However, if a miscarriage occurs at a later stage of pregnancy, it could be caused by a chromosomal defect in the embryo or a chronic illness suffered by the mother.
If the early development of the embryo’s central nervous system is somehow impaired, for instance through a lack of folic acid, this can lead to a neural tube defect. In such instances, the neural tube does not close properly so that essential parts of the brain, the cerebral meninges and the skull cannot develop. This defect can also lead to malformations of the spine (spina bifida aperta). You can help to prevent a folic acid deficiency by taking folic acid supplements for several months before you plan to become pregnant.
A listeria infection is usually similar to a mild flu. Yet in extreme cases, listeriosis can cause pregnant women to have a miscarriage or it may make the foetus sick. Listeriosis bacteria are primarily found in products made from raw milk and in raw meat and fish. To prevent the risk of an infection, you should ideally only consume pasteurised milk products while you are pregnant and avoid eating raw fish and raw meat.
During your first pregnancy check-up, your doctor will establish whether you are already immune to the infectious disease toxoplasmosis. Around 50% of all adults have this immunity. If you are not yet immune, your doctor will continue to regularly test you for toxoplasmosis. You can avoid becoming infected by ensuring good food hygiene, not eating raw fish and avoiding contact with cat excrement. Toxoplasmosis can also be effectively treated during pregnancy using antibiotics. If left untreated, it could damage the unborn child or cause a miscarriage.