|

Understanding Ectopic Pregnancy

Baby Talk

An ectopic pregnancy is one in which the fertilized egg implants itself outside the uterus.

After an egg is fertilized, it travels down the fallopian tube to find a comfy place in the uterus to attach and grow. Here a fetus will develop into a healthy full-term baby. Occasionally, however, the egg implants itself outside the uterus (often in the fallopian tube). At first the body responds as if it were a normal pregnancy. Hormones are released and your pregnancy test is positive. But the egg can't grow outside the uterus, and so a full-term pregnancy and healthy baby are an impossibility in what is called an ectopic pregnancy (your mother might call it a tubal pregnancy).

It is important to catch an ectopic pregnancy before the cells grow too large, causing the fallopian tube to burst. This might destroy the tube's ability to carry another fertilized egg to the uterus in the future. A neglected ectopic pregnancy can also threaten the life of the mother.

The symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy are as follows:

  • Crampy pain on one side of the abdomen
  • Abdominal pain that worsens when straining with a bowel movement or coughing
  • Light bleeding or brownish spotting
  • Shoulder pain on one side

If the fallopian tube bursts, the woman will have severe internal bleeding, very sharp and steady pain, and probably signs of shock, which include a rapid, weak pulse, clammy skin, and fainting.

There are three treatment goals for an ectopic pregnancy:

  • Remove the embryo.
  • Remove the risk to the mother.
  • Preserve her fertility.

Early diagnosis (before the fallopian tube bursts) and modern, high-tech medicine make it possible to meet all three of these goals. Diagnosis is usually made by testing the level of the hormone hCG in the mother's blood (the levels of this hormone will not rise as they should during pregnancy if the egg is implanted outside the uterus). Ultrasound is also used to locate the embryo within the uterus and fallopian tubes.

Treatment is given through a procedure called a laparoscopy. A tiny incision is made in the navel for the insertion of the laparoscope (a miniature scope that allows the physician to actually look inside you). Another incision is made in the lower abdomen, in order to get at the tube with surgical instruments. This method is favored over major abdominal surgery because it is effective and it allows for a much shorter hospital stay and more rapid recovery. In some cases, drug therapy might be used to destroy the fertilized cells. A follow-up test of hormone levels is usually prescribed by your doctor to be sure that all material has been removed.

|

excerpted from:

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth © 2004 by Michele Isaac Gliksman, M.D. and Theresa Foy DiGeronimo. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's website or call 1-800-253-6476.


Pregnancy Day by Day

Tell us your due date to receive our daily newsletter and find out what is happening in this day of your pregnancy!

Already a member? Log-in here

Name of the Day

From Our Boards

Quick Polls

Q: Have you gotten the linea negra (black line down the center of your tummy)?

Yes

No

View Results

highlights

Create Your Baby Registry with Target
Do you have everything you need to care for your new bundle of joy? Create your Target baby registry today!

Birth Control After Baby: 5 Options for Breastfeeding Moms
Find out which non-permanent birth control methods are safest for breastfeeding moms, and discuss your options with your doctor to find one that works for you and your partner.

Where Should Newborns Sleep? Comparing Bassinets, Cradles & More
Where will your bundle of joy sleep when she comes home? Get shopping and safety tips for choosing a bassinet, play yard, or other crib alternative that will fit in your bedroom, per AAP guidelines.

Top 100 Baby Names of 2015
Want to see which baby girl names and boy names are hot in the U.S. right now? Check out these lists from the S.S.A., and click on the names to see their meanings!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Facebook icon Follow Us on Pinterest

© 2000-2015  Sandbox Networks, Inc. All Rights Reserved.