Women are particularly more sensitive when they are expecting, as their body goes through many hormonal and physical changes. Certain types of pain are common during this period, particularly abdominal pain. This is usually normal and is brought on by the expanding uterus, stretching of the ligaments and shifting of the organs. But in some cases, abdominal pain during pregnancy is brought on by certain health conditions — appendicitis is one of them.
Remember that having appendicitis while pregnant can be particularly dangerous both for you and your baby. This is why you should be on the lookout for this ailment and seek help immediately if you feel the symptoms of this ailment.
Incidence of Appendicitis in Pregnant Women
During pregnancy, appendicitis is the most common and non-obstetric emergency that may entail surgery. It's not a rare disorder and is seen in approximately 1 out of 1,500 pregnancies.1 It commonly happens during the second or third trimester, although it may also occur during the first trimester.
The appendicitis incidence rates range from 19 to 36 percent during the first trimester, 27 to 60 percent during the second trimester and 15 to 33 percent during the last three months of pregnancy.2 The incidence of appendicitis in women, is the same whether they are pregnant or not. However, pregnancy increases the risk of perforation.3
What's alarming is that expectant mothers who have gone through an appendectomy are at a higher risk of fetal loss,4 especially if this condition occurs during early pregnancy and if the mother fails to receive appropriate medical attention immediately.5 Premature contractions and early labor may also be prompted by appendicitis, especially during the third trimester.6
This Condition May Be Mistaken as a Sign of Labor
The problem with accurately diagnosing appendicitis if you're pregnant is that the signs and symptoms are typically similar to those of pregnancy or the onset of labor. Aside from pain in the lower right abdomen, the most common symptoms include:7
- Loss of appetite (anorexia)
Fever and diarrhea are not common, although uterine contractions and painful or difficult urination (dysuria) may be felt. In some cases, the pain may be in the upper instead of lower right belly, because the appendix changes position during pregnancy.8
Appendicitis During This Delicate Period Must Be Addressed Immediately
If you're pregnant and are experiencing any of the symptoms above, have yourself (and your baby) checked immediately. If not diagnosed and treated promptly, appendicitis can lead to potentially dangerous side effects. This includes complications such as preterm labor, infection and risk of fetal or maternal loss. There is very low risk of the mother dying from appendicitis, though, with less than 2 percent succumbing to this illness.
However, your infant's health may be in jeopardy. Those at a higher gestational age have a higher risk of perforation. If the appendix bursts during the third trimester, preterm labor might happen, and if no surgical intervention is done, the risk of fetal loss rises. The first week after the surgery is the riskiest, as it may lead to premature delivery — both the mother and unborn child should be closely monitored during this period.9