Most Common Complications

There are several things that may cause a complication in your pregnancy. However, some are more common than others. Below is a list of common complications.

Ectopic Pregnancy:

  • Ectopic pregnancies can be caused by an STD, such as chlamydia, or an infection, such as pelvic inflammatory disease. Women who have undergone sterilization procedures or have been diagnosed with endometriosis or other female reproductive disorders are also at risk.
  • If the fallopian tube is getting tighter, or more narrow, the egg is fertilized outside the uterus, and in the tube, thus the name: “Tubal pregnancy”
  • Causes heavy bleeding, severe pelvic pain, dizziness and may result in death
  • Emergency surgery or Methotrexate are used for treatment

Rh Negative Disease:

  • Rhesus isoimmunization
  • Rh factor is determined by the presence of a protein surrounding red blood cells. Without the protein, a woman is considered Rh negative.
  • The mother is Rh negative, and her child is born Rh positive, and she starts to build antibodies up against the next Rh positive baby.
  • During the beginning of the pregnancy, the mother is tested to see if she has been sensitized. (Meaning the baby’s red blood cells have been affected my the mother’s developed antibodies)
  • RhoGAM is a medication given around 28 weeks to prevent the build-up of these antibodies
  • RhoGAM is given again at birth, only if the baby is Rh positive

Bilateral chloroid plexus cysts:

  • These are small cystic parts in the choroid, which is the tissue in the ventricle that produces spinal fluid
  • This is a very common complication
  • Detected by ultrasound, usually in the second trimester

HELLP Syndrome:

  • Hemolytic anemia (broken down blood cells), Elevated Liver (sign of problematic liver), Low Platelet count (potential problem in blood clotting)
  • Occurs mostly in the third trimester of a woman’s first pregnancy

Group B Strep:

  • The leading cause of infections in newborns
  • Not group A strep (strep throat)
  • Doctors find Group B Strep through cultures during pregnancy
  • Can be treated during or after pregnancy

Preterm Labor:

  • When the mother’s body is trying to deliver the baby before she has reached full-term (37 weeks)
  • There is a risk of delivering the baby too early when the contractions are closer, stronger, and longer.
  • Can feel like menstrual cramping or a subtle backache
  • In serious situations, bed rest and medications are necessary to help the pregnancy go full-term


  • Gestational Diabetes develops during pregnancy, when a woman’s body is not making enough insulin
  • Develops usually in second trimester
  • Cannot be treated by pills, most treatment is through diet or insulin

Low birth weight:

  • Caused by poor nutrition, substance use (cigarettes, alcohol, drugs)
  • Can be an effect of a STD, other contagious diseases, or no pre-natal care
  • When a baby is born pre-maturely, it stays in the hospital for up to four months
  • Babies who are born at a low birth rate run the risk of respiratory infections, blindness, learning disabilities, cerebral palsy, and heart infections

“Early Pregnancy Loss: Miscarriage, Ectopic Pregnancy, and Molar Pregnancy,” The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. 1998.
“Common Concerns,” The Nemours Foundation. 2002.
“Bleeding During Pregnancy,” The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. 1999.
“Diabetes and Pregnancy,” The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. 2000.
“Group B Streptococcus and Pregnancy,” The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. 1998.
“The Rh Factor: How It Can Affect Your Pregnancy,” The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. 1999.
“Positive News for Rh Negative Women,” OnHealth Network Company. 2000.

Last updated: 11/2006