What Are the Different Types of Pregnancy?

November 2, 2018

Knowing you’re pregnant is a blessing, but the first thing a woman needs to know is the type of pregnancy she is having. This will determine in large part how each month will go.

When a woman gets the good news that she’s pregnant, it unleashes a whole whirlwind of emotions, fears, doubts, and hormones. Each medical check-up raises a million questions about whether the pregnancy is developing like it should. The first thing the mom-to-be needs to know is what kind of pregnancy it is.

Human life begins the instant the egg and sperm meet. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), pregnancy is the part of the human reproduction process that begins when the fertilized egg is implanted in the wall of the uterus, and ends with the birth.

Each woman’s pregnancy is different. Some are more complicated than others, and even if a woman has two pregnancies, they won’t be the same. However, did you know that there are three types of pregnancies, from a medical standpoint? The classification has to do with the implantation of the fertilized egg.

Types of pregnancy

1. Intrauterine pregnancy

Types of pregnancy: a medical check-up.

Pregnancy happens when the fertilized egg is correctly implanted inside the uterus and develops normally. Intrauterine pregnancy is what most women have. It lasts 40-42 weeks, from the first day of the last menstruation, or 38 weeks from when the egg is fertilized.

Once it’s implanted, the placenta grows. The baby will receive nutrients he needs to grow via the umbilical cord. The conditions or factors at play when the woman gets pregnant will determine whether it’s low risk or high risk.

Low risk pregnancy

This is the controlled pregnancy of a healthy woman. It occurs in women between 19 and 35 years old. There are no health conditions that could put the mother’s life or the baby’s development at risk.

High risk pregnancy

This is when the pregnancy is not controlled. It occurs in women under 18 or over 35. Here, the woman begins to develop conditions like diabetes, cardiopathies, heart conditions, or pyelonephriti (kidney infection). A high risk pregnancy may also involve rubella, toxoplasmosis, syphilis, HIV, or HPV.

High risk pregnancies can have a happy ending and not endanger the woman or baby, but close medical supervision is necessary.

There is another medical classification that applies when you find out you’re pregnant and hear, “it’s not just one… it’s two!” For fraternal twins, each zygote gets its own placenta and amniotic sac.

Meanwhile, for identical twins, the embryo divides but not the placenta (most of the time). More frequent check-ups are appropriate in this case (monthly sonograms for the duration of the pregnancy), since there is only one placenta nourishing the two babies.

Take a look at this article too:

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2. Ectopic pregnancy

A pregnant woman holding her back.

Ectopic pregnancies, or extrauterine pregnancies, come from a complication when the embryo descends through the Fallopian tubes and is unable to reach the uterus. Therefore, it implants in a place that does not let it develop.

An ectopic pregnancy is very risky for the woman and there is no good prognosis for the baby. It usually doesn’t reach the third trimester. Around week 6 or 7, the woman starts to bleed and feel intense pain.

If there is no spontaneous abortion, the doctor will likely recommend surgical intervention or certain chemotherapy treatments to save the woman’s life.

However, having had an ectopic pregnancy doesn’t make a woman unable to have an intrauterine pregnancy later on. Extra medical supervision, though, is appropriate to make sure everything goes normally.

Ectopic pregnancies can be classified into:

  • Tubal: the embryo is implanted in the isthmus at the end of the Fallopian tube.
  • Ovarian: the embryo is implanted in the ovary. Often it is mistaken for a cyst.
  • Cervical: implantation takes place in the cervix.
  • Abdominal: implantation takes place inside the peritoneal cavity. This is a very uncommon pregnancy.
  • Intramural: the embryo is implanted in the myometrium, the layer of muscle in the uterine wall.

3. Molar pregnancy

A woman clutching her knees.

In this type of pregnancy, the egg is fertilized abnormally. Then, the placenta grows abnormally as well, turning into a mass of cysts called a hydatidiform mole. The consequences are that:

  • The embryo cannot develop correctly and will not survive.
  • The molar pregnancy must be interrupted as soon as it is discovered.

There are two types of molar pregnancies:

  • Complete: There is no sign of normality, neither in the embryo nor the placenta tissue. All chromosomes belong to the father, when normally it is half from the mother and half from the father.
  • Partial: The placenta may show signs of normality. However, the embryo develops abnormally. Half of the chromosomes come from the mother, but those from the father appear in two groups. The baby, instead of having 46 chromosomes, has 69.

Go to your medical check-ups

No matter what kind of pregnancy you have, it is vital to get timely medical check-ups. The doctor is the only one qualified to tell you what your probabilities are and can help both you and your baby be safe.

  • Personal de la Clínica Mayo. Embarazo ectópico. (2018).


  • Personal de la Clínica Mayo. Embarazo molar. (2018).


  • Personal de la Clínica Mayo. Embarazo de alto riesgo: Infórmate sobre qué esperar. (2018).


  • Fertility Smarts group. Intrauterine Pregnancy (IUP)