Have you ever found yourself wondering what an ectopic pregnancy is, what causes one, or what signs indicate an ectopic pregnancy? We have put together an informal guide on spotting the signs of an ectopic pregnancy, which also explains the condition in greater detail, and outlines its possible impact on future fertility.
 
What is an Ectopic Pregnancy?
 
An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilised egg implants itself outside of the womb, usually inside one of the fallopian tubes, which connect the ovaries to the womb. Often it causes pain and bleeding, which may develop into a Fallopian tube rupture with internal bleeding, should the pregnancy be left untreated.
 
This presents significant health risks to the individual as the pregnancy develops, which means that it has to be removed, either using medication or by performing an operation in more serious cases. Sadly, the pregnancy cannot be saved due to the serious nature of the condition, which can be fatal if left untreated.
 
 
What is the Cause?
 
While the cause of an ectopic pregnancy isn't always clear, it is sometimes due to an issue with the Fallopian tubes, in the case that they are too narrow or have become blocked. An egg will usually spend around five days travelling down the tube and into your womb, where it should implant and develop if fertilised. In the case of an ectopic pregnancy, the egg hasn't travelled far enough when it implants, leading to it developing in the tube itself.
 
While there are certain factors which increase the risk of an ectopic pregnancy, one in three women who suffer the abnormality will have none of the known risk factors. It is important to know what these risk factors are as it may aid in identifying the condition if you are aware of your own personal risk level.
 
You could be at greater risk if:
  • You've suffered from pelvic inflammatory disease (often caused by chlamydia)
  • You've had abdominal surgery, such as appendix removal or a c-section
  • You've become pregnant using IVF
  • You've become pregnant whilst using an IUD or taking the contraceptive mini-pill.
  • You've suffered a previous ectopic pregnancy 
 
 
How Common is the Condition?
 
An ectopic pregnancy happens in around one in every ninety pregnancies in the UK, however, this risk increases to one in ten for the individual who has suffered an ectopic pregnancy before.  In 98% of cases, it will implant in the Fallopian tubes, but in some cases, the egg can implant in the abdomen, ovary, cervix or within a c-section scar.
 
 
What are the Signs of an Ectopic Pregnancy?
 
Identifying an ectopic pregnancy isn't always straightforward because the symptoms can sometimes mirror those of a period or miscarriage, causing cramping and bleeding. The symptoms may also develop gradually, or come upon the individual suddenly, with the early stages sometimes developing without any symptoms at all.
 
Some symptoms include:
  • Expected signs of pregnancy
  • Vaginal bleeding that is different from your usual period, which can sometimes be lighter and brighter in colour, or darker than usual
  • Pain in your lower abdomen/pelvis, which can be gradual or sudden, and may be on one side.
 
Signs of a severe case which has caused a rupture include:
  • Lightheaded/faint feelings
  • Diarrhoea or pain when passing water/stools 
  • Shock or collapse due to internal bleeding
  • Shoulder tip pain, which may be made worse by lying down
 
How Does Suffering an Ectopic Pregnancy Impact Future Fertility?
 
The chances of having a healthy pregnancy after suffering an ectopic pregnancy will depend on the individual, as it relates to the health of your fallopian tubes, and that of the remaining tube if you have had to have one removed. If it has been caused by a previous pelvic infection, this may have a further impact on your fertility.
 
One healthy tube means that you have a good chance of conceiving again, and six out of ten women manage to do so effectively, going on to have a healthy pregnancy. For those who struggle to conceive, IVF may be an option.
 
If you would like to try to become pregnant after suffering an ectopic pregnancy, you should first ensure that you have properly healed from the physical and emotional damage. As always, you should consult your doctor in order to gain the best advice for your personal case.
 
In the case of keyhole surgery, you should wait until you've had at least two full menstrual cycles before trying for a baby, and six months in the case of abdominal surgery. If you've taken methotrexate, you should wait at least three months before trying to conceive, to ensure that it is out of your system completely.
 
If you suspect that you may be suffering an ectopic pregnancy, see your doctor at once, or go to the hospital directly if you feel that your symptoms are becoming worse.
 
The earlyAssure™ scan package from First Encounters Ultrasound is an early pregnancy scan that can identify ectopic pregnancies and other potential issues early on. Click here to book your earlyAssure™ scan.

There are lots of symptoms that might indicate that you are pregnant. Bear in mind that pregnancy symptoms are not the same for each woman or each pregnancy.

Here are some early signs you should look out for:

  • Missed period
  • Feeling sick/nausea - also known as morning sickness
  • Tiredness
  • Mood swings - caused by a change in hormones
  • Cramps/spotting – as the embryo implants in your uterus
  • Changing tastes in food and sensitivity to smell
  • Changes in breast tenderness - they might become larger, feel tender, and your nipples may darken in colour
  • Going to the toilet more often - as your womb grows it presses on your bladder
  • Backache

 

Don’t worry, it is highly unlikely that you will experience all of these symptoms at once, and some women don’t experience any! The best way to be sure if you are pregnant is to take a pregnancy test

If you find out that you are pregnant, and perhaps need reassurance about your pregnancy prior to your first NHS scan, book in for an earlyAssure™ scan with First Encounters. This scan is available to mums as soon as 8-12 weeks after conception.

During the first few days of pregnancy, a fertilised embryo attaches to the uterine lining and your body begins to release a hormone called human chorionic gonadotrophin (HCG).

Pregnancy tests determine whether you are pregnant or not by trying to detect this hormone in either your blood or your urine. Urine tests can be carried out at home while blood tests are carried out by your local GP.

Positive Result

If you have just done a home pregnancy test and find that your test is showing a positive result, it is almost certain that you are pregnant. The test has positively detected the pregnancy hormone HCG in your urine.

Negative Result

A negative result can be slightly more ambiguous. It either means; you are not pregnant, you took the test too early so not enough hormone was present in your urine yet, or you took the test incorrectly. Be aware that some home pregnancy tests are more sensitive to detecting HCG than others.

What Should I do if I Take Multiple Tests and get Different Results?

In this circumstance, we recommended that you visit your GP and have a blood test done to get an accurate answer, however you will have to wait slightly longer to receive the results from this test.

If you find out that you are pregnant, why not book a First Encounter’s earlyAssure™ scan? Available as soon as 8 weeks after conception, this is a scan you can attend before your first NHS scan to seek reassurance about numerous aspects of the pregnancy.


Back in February last year, a debate about choosing your baby’s gender was sparked by Chrissy Tiegen and John Legend revealing that they choose for their baby, Luna, to be born a girl. Understandably, this led many parents-to-be to question how this was possible and if they could do the same.
 
To answer the question: yes, choosing your baby’s gender is now possible due to the introduction of Preimplantation Genetic Screening (PGS) and Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD). However, this only becomes an option to couples under certain circumstances. The gender selection procedure only becomes available to couples who want to avoid passing sex-linked genetic disorders onto their children, such as Haemophilia in males and Rett Syndrome in females. 
 
However, in some circumstances, it becomes available to parents who would also like to ‘balance’ their family by having a child of each gender. Hormone tests are also run to check the client’s fertility and age limits are sometimes implemented. Some clinics will not consider clients unless they are married or already have at least one child of the opposite sex they’re trying for.

Methods of Gender Selection


The most accurate methods of choosing your baby’s gender can be very expensive and typically mean the mother-to-be has to undergo invasive infertility treatments, alongside taking fertility drugs with potential side effects. 

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is one of the main procedures which allows gender selection. IVF is a method of fertilization outside of the womb, starting with a round of fertility drugs which help your ovaries create more than the natural amount of eggs (typically one per month). In an IVF procedure, the patient is placed under anesthetic before the doctor inserts an ultra sound probe through the vagina to check the ovaries and follicles. A thin needle is then inserted through the vagina wall to remove the eggs from the follicles.

The next step is for the extracted eggs to be fertilized in a Petri dish. Once the eggs become embryos after 3-5 days, they are inserted back into the patient’s uterus. If you’re younger than 35 and your embryos are healthy, no more than two are usually transferred.

 

Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis and Preimplantation Genetic Screening


The baby gender selection process happens during the IVF procedure, where one or two cells are removed from the embryo and tested for genetic or chromosomal disorders. Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) and Preimplantation Genetic Screening (PGS) can be used to screen the embryos and predict the baby’s gender. Parents who are hoping to avoid gender-linked disorders usually opt for PGD as the test exposes any underlying conditions the baby may have. By changing the gender of the baby, the prospective parents hope to avoid this disorder. 
 
Preimplantation Genetic Screening is typically used by patients to check if their baby has down syndrome, or are hoping to ‘balance’ their family. Both tests are almost 100% accurate at determining the gender of the baby, and any remaining embryos are frozen so they can be used in the future if the couple decides to make more children.
 
The advancement of science truly is something to marvel at, but as these methods can be expensive and invasive, waiting to find out the gender of your child can be just as exciting. Wondering what your baby will be is one of the most magical parts of carrying a child and the long awaited day of the gender reveal is a milestone in the pregnancy. Here at First Encounters, we offer gender scans from just 16 weeks, so you don’t have to wait too long either. 

The earlyAssure™ option is a scan package we offer to parents who may be worried about the pregnancy as it can identify potential issues with the baby from as early as 8 weeks. Click here to find out more information and book your earlyAssure™ scan.

Heartburn During Pregnancy

 

Why Have I Got Heartburn During Pregnancy?

 

As your baby develops you may find that it is more than just your desire to meet them that’s burning. Heartburn during pregnancy is a frequent occurrence and can be recognised by a burning sensation that resides all the way from your breastbone to your lower throat. Many mothers experience heartburn for the first time during pregnancy and although it is quite uncomfortable, it is usually harmless. The reason heartburn occurs so frequently during pregnancy is due to the placenta producing the hormone progesterone. 

 
Progesterone is usually your friend throughout pregnancy, helping to prevent miscarriages through thickening the uterine lining, and promoting your natural health by reminding you to provide nutrients for your baby. However, this does not mean that progesterone won’t cause you pain from time to time. 
 
As it relaxes the muscles of the uterus and the valve that separates the oesophagus from the stomach, it also allows gastric acids to flow back up to the oesophagus, causing the nasty burning sensation. Your wiggling baby also contributes to your heartburn by placing pressure on the stomach and increasing the chance of acids being pushed into the oesophagus.

What Can I Do to Stop My Heartburn? 

 

1. Find out what triggers it

 
The first thing you can do is make a note each time you have heartburn of what you’ve previously had to eat or drink. Certain foods tend to directly impact heartburn during pregnancy, such as acidic foods, greasy foods, spicy foods, caffeine, fizzy drinks and chocolate. If you can figure out what is causing your heartburn, you can try to eliminate it from your diet and relieve the pain. 

2. Try to avoid big meals

 
Big meals increase the chance of heartburn, as food does not digest as well or move as quickly during pregnancy. It is better to eat several small meals throughout the day, taking your time to eat and chewing thoroughly. 

3. Take care when you sleep

 
Keeping your upper body elevated while you sleep can help stop your stomach acids from reaching the oesophagus. Try to also avoid eating anything 3 hours before bedtime, as this decreases the chance of the stomach acids reaching you even further. 

4. Try chewing gum

 
After eating, chewing gum helps eliminate heartburn during pregnancy. This is due to the chewing motion producing saliva which can help neutralise the acid. 

5. Over-the-counter help

 
If all else fails, any over-the-counter antacid which contains magnesium or calcium may help relieve you of the pain. However, you should first check with your prenatal nurse before taking anything to ensure that it is safe for you during pregnancy. 

 
If your heartburn during pregnancy continues to persist after these methods, be sure to contact your health care provider to see if there are any prescription medicines you can take to help you. Be sure to contact them immediately if you spit up blood or have dark-coloured bowel movements as this is a sign of blood in your digestive tract. We hope these tips help you relieve some of the pain and enjoy every moment of your pregnancy!
 
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