Pregnancy Awareness Week in February

Each year, Pregnancy Awareness Week is observed with the main objective of reducing the number of deaths or complications from pregnancy for both the mother and the baby.

Helping couples to achieve a healthy, successful full-term pregnancy is our top priority at Medfem Fertility Clinic. Our team supports Pregnancy Awareness Week and contributes to raising awareness of the problems in pregnancy that can contribute to or cause infertility.

In this article, we find out more about Pregnancy Awareness Week and its message, look at some of the complications of pregnancy that can contribute to or cause infertility and find out what you can do if you have experienced recurring pregnancy loss.

Pregnancy Awareness Week is an initiative of The Department of Health in South Africa with the aim of improving education and knowledge about pregnancy and highlighting important issues that promote a healthy pregnancy and safe motherhood.

It also encourages pregnant women to begin attending antenatal care within the first trimester as soon as they confirm they are pregnant. Antenatal care provides a number of important benefits such the opportunity to treat existing medical conditions that can be aggravated by pregnancy like diabetes, hypertension, anaemia and infections, as well as testing and counselling for HIV. Antenatal care also helps pregnant women to recognise early danger signs in pregnancy and post-delivery, as well as to prepare for birth and for possible complications. A great deal of important information, such as self-care, the father’s role and the role of the family, is shared.

An important component of Pregnancy Awareness Week is to highlight the rights of pregnant women which include the right of a woman to choose her companion for providing support during pregnancy and childbirth; the right to be treated with respect, dignity and confidentiality; and the right to ask questions and to get explanations regarding her or her baby’s condition.
You can read more about Pregnancy Awareness Week at

Pregnancy complications

Many things can go wrong while a fertilised egg – called an embryo – develops into a fully-formed baby in just 9 months. Sadly, some of these things can cause a pregnancy loss.

Three very common examples include an ectopic pregnancy, a miscarriage, and a stillbirth.

An ectopic pregnancy occurs when the embryo begins to develop outside the uterus or womb. Normally, the embryo travels through the fallopian tube, which leads from the ovary to the womb, where it implants itself in the lining of the uterus. In an ectopic pregnancy, the embryo implants in the fallopian tube, where it can’t develop into a baby. This may be a result of damage to the tube that makes it difficult for the fertilised egg to pass through or there could be a problem with the walls of the tube or the tiny hairs that guide the fertilised egg into the womb. If the embryo implants in the fallopian tube and continues to grow it can stretch the tube until it bursts, which can be dangerous to the health of the mother and will affect the chances of a future natural pregnancy.

About 1 in every 100 pregnancies are ectopic. Sadly, it’s not possible to save an ectopic pregnancy.

In some cases, the embryo does reach the uterus, but the baby is lost before 24 weeks. This is called a miscarriage. Sadly, around 1 in every 5 pregnancies miscarry.

Many women have a miscarriage before they even know they’re pregnant as most miscarriages occur in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, sometimes called an ‘early miscarriage’. It may feel like a period that comes late and with heavy bleeding.

Between 50 – 75% of miscarriages that occur within the first 14 weeks are the result of an embryo or foetus that was defective in some way. The foetus may have been unable to implant in the uterus or implanted poorly; it may have suffered from a genetic aberration; or there may have been significant chromosomal abnormalities. Whatever the cause, the result is that the embryo or foetus is unable to develop normally.

Miscarriages that occur later, between the beginning of the second trimester and week 20, can be due to maternal health issues, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) in the mother, a condition of the uterus or cervix, or problems with the placenta. It’s possible that what you and your fertility specialist learn from this experience can help a future pregnancy last to term.

Sometimes there’s no clear reason why a miscarriage happened, but certainly it is rarely caused by anything the mother did or did not do.

If the baby is lost after 24 weeks or during birth, it is called a stillbirth. Some stillbirths remain unexplained as experts do not yet know what all the possible causes could be. In some cases, a stillbirth can be linked to issues with the health of the placenta, the mother’s health, or the health of the baby.

Impact on future fertility

A pregnancy loss at any time – whether a stillbirth, miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy – is utterly devasting. Having to face infertility as a result as well can leave couples feeling desperate.

It’s important to know that you are not alone and that there are professional support and medical treatments available to assist you not only to deal with the loss, but also to achieve another pregnancy.

At Medfem Fertility Clinic, our team of fertility specialists will take the journey of recovery and fertility treatment with you, step by step.

If you have experienced two or more first trimester miscarriages, or one or more second trimester miscarriage(s), your fertility specialist will begin with a comprehensive work-up specifically for pregnancy losses to identify the cause of the miscarriage.

The specifics of the investigations depend on the number of prior miscarriages and type of miscarriages, in other words, whether it was a primary versus secondary miscarriage; whether it occurred in the first trimester versus second trimester; and whether the cause was chromosomal or not.

The investigations usually begin with a careful medical history for both the female partner and the male partner, and extends to a thorough investigation for specific autoimmune, anatomical, hormonal, chromosomal, infectious, thrombophilia and/or spermatogenic factors.

If a specific factor is identified as a potential cause of the miscarriage(s), a treatment protocol is customised specifically for you. In most cases, the specialised treatments can significantly reduce your risk of another miscarriage.

Often, no cause can be found for the miscarriage(s), and this happens in as many as 50% of couples. Even if no cause is found, there are empirical treatments which have been shown to help reduce the risk of another miscarriage.

At Medfem Fertility Clinic, we recognise the extraordinary impact pregnancy loss can have on your well-being as a couple. We spare no effort as we investigate to identify potential causes for recurrent miscarriages and employ only proven safe and effective treatment protocols to address each couple’s unique clinical situation.

We also offer professional counselling provided by our resident psychologist, who has many decades of experience in assisting couples coping with the devastation of pregnancy loss and the rigours of undergoing fertility treatments.

If you would like to meet one of our fertility specialists or our resident psychologist, simply click here to book an initial consultation or contact us telephonically on +27 (11) 463 2244.

We look forward to meeting you!


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